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    QUICK FACTS Ornamental

 

     
 
 
History
Nutrient value
Plant care
Green tea recipe
           
 
 

Camelias

History

The genus Camellia was named by the Swedish Botanist, Carolus Linnaeus. He developed the binomial system of plant naming that is still in use today. The genus Camellia was named in honour of a 17th century Jesuit missionary, Joseph Kamel, which is Camellus in Latin. All of the 267 recorded species within the genus originated from Asia, where they had many uses, including ornamental, cosmetic, and culinary (e.g. in tea blends). They are also a source of oil and provide fuel in the form of high-grade charcoal.

Nutrient value

Camellia sinensis, the tea plant, is used to make tea. Tea leaves in general consist of polyphenols, mainly flavonoids (water-soluble plant pigments), vitamins, volatile oils, and caffeine. The flavonoids, especially catechin or epigallocatechin gallate, are known to contain potent antioxidant as well as anti-cancer substances. They also protect against digestive and respiratory infections. Tea is also well known for its anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-thrombotic (stops the formation of a blood clot within a blood vessel) effects and cholesterol lowering properties. It assists in weight loss by speeding up fat oxidation, and lowers high blood pressure. The health benefits gained from drinking all categories of tea are comparable. It is a perfectly natural health drink, and when consumed on its own it has no calories.

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Scientific advice on plant care

Plants need to be grown in humus-rich, porous soils that are slightly acidic (pH 5.5-6.5). They also need good sunlight and high humidity with temperatures below 15°C in winter and plenty of shade in summer. When Camellias are grown in pots the best practice is to use a general potting mix containing 500 g of 12-14 month slow release fertiliser in 200 L of bark and 50 L of sand. Repot every two years. Do not water if the soil feels moist. Prune after flowering, before spring growth begins. Camellias thrive well without fertilisers. However, fertilisers, such as well-rotted cow and sheep manure or blood, can be applied in early spring. Alternatively, ericaceous fertiliser can be applied once in early spring at a rate half that recommended on the label to improve growth and flower vigour.

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Green tea recipe

Roll freshly picked leaves from C. sinensis (tea plant) between your hands until the leaves darken and crinkle, allowing the fermentation process to begin. Do not break the leaves into pieces because the leachate from the broken leaves will give the tea a bitter taste. Place thin layers of leaves on a tray in the shade for 2-3 days. Then dry the leaves in an oven at 106°C for 20 minutes to remove all excess water and stop the fermentation process. Store in an airtight container or use straightaway. Brew one teaspoon of dry leaves for each cup in water that has just begun to produce small bubbles. Leave for 2-3 minutes. Serve or pour off all liquid to avoid over steeping.

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