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Japanese Garden Plants
This is where to find details on plants. We don't have a lot of images, but we'll be providing articles and details as we are able. If you have materials to contribute or gaps to fill in, please let us know.

Japanese Name:cha, cha-no-ki 
English Name:Tea 
Latin Name:Camellia sinensis (formerly Thea sinensis) 
Native Habitat:sub-tropical China and Himalayas 
Light:prefer good sunlight but will do well in shade as well 
Soil:well-drained, moist, fertile 
Flower Color:white 
Bloom Time:October-November 
Height:1-2 m 
Uses:medicinal, beverage 
Last Updated:6/26/2004 
Details: Grows in both sunny and shady sites, but prefers sunny, well-drained, fertile and moist soils. It is reather slow-growing and develops rather deep roots. It is difficult to transplant. White flowers with slight fragrance appear in October-November. The flowers are similar to that of the camellia.

Tea is native to China and the Himalayas. It's natural form is as a small tree of 3-4 meters. When cultivated, it is usually rounded into hedges, about 1 meter high and wide. It is a subtropical plant that cannot withstand severe winters

Tea leaves have an association with Buddhism. Tea was brought from China by Buddhists and is said to have been used by monks to keep themselves awake during long meditation sessions. It was also used for medicinal purposes. This usage was extended to the aristocracy in the form of tea-tasting competitions. Later, the association with Zen Buddhism was strengthened through the development of the tea ceremony.

O-cha is green tea. Ocha is prepared by steaming and then drying the tips of the shoots that are harvested. This is different from the black tea of the India and Europe which is fermented or cured. Green tea is usually separated into ban-cha (or hoji-cha) and sen-cha. Ban-cha is made from leaves harvested late in the season and is roasted. Sen-cha is made from the green leaf tips harvested earlier in the season. The first leaves of the year are called shin-cha. Sen-cha is served with water at just below the boiling point (90 C). The more select and delicate Gyokuro variety of sen-cha grown in Kyoto and Shiga-ken is served somewhat cooler water (60-70 C). Special varieties are grown for the matcha used in the tea ceremony. The plants are shaded throughout the growing season and the young leaves are hand-picked and then ground into a powder.

Tea is sometimes planted in gardens under larger trees, by the side of garden stones, next to buildings and as hedges.

For further reference:
Kitamura, Fumio and Ishizu Yurio. Garden Plants in Japan. Tokyo: Kokusai Bunka Shinkokai, 1963, p. 170.

Betty Richards and Anne Kaneko, Japanese Plants, Tokyo: Shufunotomo, 1988, p. 196-197.


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