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GLT's Grow: How A Grassy Plant Becomes Tea

Tea leaves
Ashwin Kamath
Flickr/Creative Commons
GLT's Grow is doing a three-part fall series on chocolate, tea, and coffee. Yum!

Coffee may jump to mind when thinking about drinks we consume originating from plants. But tea is more widely consumed.

In Part 2 of a series on coffee, tea, and chocolate, GLT's Mike McCurdy talks with Illinois State University’s Patrick Murphy about a beverage that, like coffee, is good hot or cold.

  • Most tea comes from a short, grassy-looking plant called camellia sinensis. The type of tea you get changes based on when you harvest the plant. White tea, for example, comes from buds that are picked very early on, right when they first emerge. It’s also more expensive.
  • Your Lipton tea bag is generally going to be black tea. But not all black teas are created equal, according to Murph. It can vary based on how it’s processed, the culture and manner in which it was grown, and its plant’s geography (such as high elevation or from a river basin).
  • Camellia sinensis is grown year-round and worldwide. It’s mostly found in tropical and subtropical regions. Commercial tea production is limited in the U.S. But you could grow it in central Illinois in a greenhouse or as a short-season crop.

Listen to this week's full episode:

On next week’s episode: Chocolate!

GLT's Grow is your source for gardening advice and down-to-earth tips. Murph and Mike are ready to take on all your gardening questions, so submit yours today.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.