New Tropical Garden – Exciting times! Part 7

A Sad Story

I woke up the other morning and found my way to the kitchen to make myself a nice cup of tea. Nothing remarkable about that I hear you remarking. No, however, I put the kettle on, opened the tea bag pot and to my horror, I could see the bottom! There were no tea bags left!! I frantically searched the cupboards, even venturing into the depths of the back of the cupboard where all the forgotten things live. Among the broken shards of spaghetti, squashed stock cubes, soft with age and old honey jars now fused to the shelf, I found a solitary tea bag. A sad individual, long removed from his kin, an old pinenut his only friend.

Old Tea Bag

Sad perhaps but he was a tea bag none the less! Into the cup he went with a splash of milk, one sugar and some boiling water [sounds rather cruel now I’ve personified him]. What resulted was a cuppa nobody should ever have to experience, it was truly awful. It tasted exactly of the cupboard from whence it came. With a bouquet of curry powder, gravy thickener, brown sauce, cumin powder and a cornucopia of other flavours of which I’ve no idea what, it was an experience which I’d soon rather forget. A dark moment in my life.

To turn this sorry situation into something positive, I took the opportunity to look up tea on the internet, to see, well, what tea is. I knew it was the crushed up leaves of a plant, that the plant is grown in India, it is picked by the woman on the PG Tips box and has in reality little to do with chimps or small yorkshiremen. That was the extent of my knowledge.

Tea for two and two for tea…

To save you some time and prevent you from leaving my website, I’ll quickly explain tea to you. What we call tea is the fermented, rolled, dried and then crushed up leaves and bud of the Camellia Sinensis plant. Wow, managed to do it in a sentence, Wikipedia had to use a whole page! The plant is a relative of the Camellia Japonica we often grow in the UK for their glossy leaves and bright flowers. It is a native to China and India, however and here’s the interesting bit, it will and does grow perfectly happily in the UK. In fact there is a small plantation on the Tregothnan Estate in Cornwall! What really got me excited, not only do they grow in the UK, Tregothnan actually sell the plants for others to grow them too. Having an exotic plant to put in my tropical garden that I could also make a cup of tea from is just a dream come true!

I had to get one! When I went to the site, Tregothnan were selling the plants for a not overly cheap price of £14.95 each. They also sold three together for £35. I thought I might as well go for the three to give me some backup if I managed to kill one of them. If I manage to kill all three, well then that’s my stupid fault. As I put in my details to buy them, I discovered there would be a £5 postage charge, however, if I spent over £40, postage would be free. So I needed to find something for £5 and get it effectively for free. I plumped for two baby Trachycarpus fortunei or Chinese windmill palms as they’re known for a total of £42.90.

A few days later, they arrived and here they are. Three tea plants, ready and waiting to be put out in the garden in the spring.

Camellia Sinensis

Just need to find out how to make tea from them!

About James

I am a keen forager, gardener, cook and metal detectorist. I enjoy growing my own veg, using my smoker, foraging for all manner of flora and fungi and just love getting out in the wild.
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