To grow tea, plant Camellia sinensis in a partly sunny to sunny area with well-drained, sandy and acidic soil. In the United States, tea plants can be grown in zones 7 to 9.
- Select a location
Find a sunny to partly sunny location on your property for the tea bush. Make sure the spot is well-drained.
- Check the soil
Squeeze some dirt in your hand, and if it immediately falls apart when you open your hand, you have sandy soil and don't need to add any gravel or sand to help drainage. If the dirt doesn't fall apart, you may need to add gravel or sand to assist drainage. To test the pH, purchase a kit from a home and garden store. Look for slightly acidic soil.
- Plant Camellia sinensis seedling
Once the area is selected and the dirt tested, plant the Camellia sinensis seedling in the ground, and space multiple seedlings 3 to 5 feet apart. If planting it in a container, add sphagnum moss to standard potting mix, or use a soil designed for rhododendrons.
- Maintain the plant
Water the plant often enough to keep the soil moist. For ease of harvesting, keep the tea plant pruned to 3 feet tall, or let it grow into a small tree or a large shrub. If you live in a colder zone with freezing temperatures, move the plant into a protected area during the winter months. Once the plant is around three years old, harvest the top two leaves with each bud.