Tea is an evergreen tree or shrub
native to southern China, Tibet and northern India. Camellia
sinensis is what the boffins call it. Three basic varieties
are recognised, named for their location: China, Assam, and Cambodia.
The Chinese variety prefers high altitudes and can produce its
small serrated leaves for a hundred years. Chinese have been steeping
these leaves in hot water to make a refreshing drink for at least
two thousand years. Cultivated plants are regularly pruned keeping
them short for easy leaf picking but the wild tree (which can still
be found in Yunnan province) can reach (40ft), while an untended
domesticated plant can grow up to (30ft). Tea should not be confused
with the tea tree found in Australia - Leptospermum, or
herbal and flower teas (tisanes), neither of which are true teas.