Thursday, October 8, 2020

Book Review: Grow Your Own Tea

Did you know you can grow tea at home? I've been growing my own Camellia Sinensis plants at home for a couple of years now, mostly figuring things out as I go along. I was so excited to see the new book Grow Your Own Tea by tea farmer Christine Parks and tea historian Susan Walcott, Ph.D and couldn't wait to get my hands on it.

There are so many questions to answer before you start growing tea. Do I need seeds?  Where should I plant them? What kind of soil and light do the plants need? The questions can go on and on. This book covers all the basics of growing Camellia Sinensis plants at home, both indoors and out. 

Grow Your Own Tea: The Essentials

The information in the book is well organized and easy to follow. There are many illustrations and charts for easy reference. 

The book is written by both a tea farmer and a tea historian, and it features information on both. The book starts with some brief historical tea info and includes information on tea growers around North America and the U.K. Basics on the tea plant are explained before going deeper into the ins and outs of tea growing. 

The book is based on the authors' growing experience and has also been well researched. It gives all the necessary info on where to start your tea growing journey, and what the plants will look like as they grow. Readers are led through all the important decisions that need to be made before planting, all the way through tending adult tea plants ready for picking.

Once you have your tea plants started, what happens next? Grow Your Own Tea takes the reader through not just how to grow tea but how to care for them at various stages of their growth. The book also covers climate needs, and growing tea in colder areas. 

There are tasks to be done based on the season, making it easy to understand what your plants need, and when. There is even important information on how to take care of pests and other plant ailments. 

Grow Your Own Tea: As A Reference guide

Since my plants are already a couple of years old, I've been using this book as a helpful reference guide. I've been leafing through various chapters to learn about what else I should be doing for my little plants. My main issue lately has been the size of my plants. They seemed small for their age, and this book helped me troubleshoot why I've been having issues.

I had recently wondered why my plants were just growing straight up, and not branching out. Turns out I needed to prune them to encourage the branching! The book gives in-depth information on when and how to prune. 

Learning how to overwinter the plants is important, especially for my Brooklyn backyard seedlings. The book goes in depth on the steps to take, which has been very helpful for me.

Grow Your Own Tea: Important Extras

The book is a helpful reference guide, but also contains other interesting sections. I enjoyed reading about various tea growers throughout the US and the UK and what their experience has been.

There is even a section on growing tea in a changing climate, which is becoming more and more important. 

There are chapters on harvesting (knowing when to harvest is key) and processing tea at home. If my plants continue to thrive, perhaps one day I'll be able to try and process a batch of Brooklyn grown tea.

If you're thinking of growing tea at home, this guide is a great resource. It gives in-depth information and answered all of my questions about what to do. I'm grateful to add it to my tea library, and can see myself reaching for it often. Thank you to Timber Press for providing this copy for review.


  1. Are your Camellia plants outdoors year-round in Brooklyn? I'm in Westchester and have also considered buying some Camellia sinensis plants.

  2. Are your Camellia plants outdoors year-round in Broolyn? I'm in Westchester and have also considered buying some Camellia's.

  3. Hi Joel, they are outdoors year-round in Brooklyn! They survived last winter, I covered them with horticultural fleece before temps dipped below freezing, and plan on doing so again this year. Fingers crossed they survive their second winter. I was told that it's not the temperature that's the problem, it is the icy winds that can damage the leaves. I grew up in Westchester, actually! If you plant some do keep me posted on how it goes.