@rachael_spatula asks: “I have some seeds from China… not sure how best to germinate them in California. Any ideas?”
@rongembrace: Just as we all have unique identities, tea does too. One defining factor of a tea’s identity is geography (though varietals and other factors matter too). The soil, water, altitude, the diversity of the surrounding vegetation and the micro-climate all matter when it comes to raising and nurturing a tea plant. This could be as simple as raising a cactus or as complicated as raising a human being. So tea requires different care as the growing environment changes.
What I can say: Just as all the other plants, water and nutrition are very important at the beginning phases. Here are some tips:
The best time to plant a seed is winter since it has higher germination rates than those planted in spring.
Wake up the tea seeds by soaking them in 25-30°C / 77-86°F water for 4-5 days. Change water twice a day, discarding the seeds that float to the surface.
Then place the remaining seeds beneath 7-10 cm / 3-4 in of soil. Then cover 5-6 cm / 2-2.5 in of thin sand on top of the soil. Next, cover some straw on top of the thin sand.
Keep room temperature at about 25°C / 77°F, spraying some water once a day, and make sure there’s enough airflow in the room.
When 50 % of the radicle (the visible root) is up in the air, then it is ready to go in the soil, about 2-3 cm below the soil.
Though a tea store I frequented in NYC wasn't able to successfully raise a tea plant, i've tasted tea in NYC that was “born” in Hawaii. So, you definitely have a shot.
Please let us know how it works out and thanks for your question! 📸: @rongembraces
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