Herbs & Plants

Camellia sinensis

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Botanical Name :Camellia sinensis
Family: Theaceae
Genus: Camellia
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales
Species: C. sinensis

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Nomenclature and taxonomy :

The name sinensis means Chinese in Latin. Camellia is taken from the Latinized name of Rev. Georg Kamel, S.J. (1661–1706), a Czech-born Jesuit priest who became both a prominent botanist and a missionary to the Philippines. Though Kamel did not discover or name the plant, Carl Linnaeus chose his name for the genus to honor Kamel’s contributions to science. Older names for the tea plant include Thea bohea, Thea sinensis and Thea viridis.

Habitat :Chinese Camellia sinensis is native to mainland China South and Southeast Asia, but it is today cultivated across the world in tropical and subtropical regions. The major tea growing regions today include India, China, Sri Lanka, Japan, Taiwan, Kenya, Turkey, Argentina, Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe…. and more.


Chinese Camellia sinensis is the species of plant whose leaves and leaf buds are used to produce Chinese tea. It is of the genus Camellia (simplified Chinese; traditional Chinese; pinyin: Cháhu?), a genus of flowering plants in the family Theaceae. White tea, green tea, oolong, pu-erh tea and black tea are all harvested from this species, but are processed differently to attain different levels of oxidation. Kukicha (twig tea) is also harvested from Camellia sinensis, but uses twigs and stems rather than leaves. Common names include tea plant, tea tree, and tea shrub.


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Click to see different pictures of   Camellia sinensis
There are two major varieties that characterize this species (1) Chinese Camellia sinensis var. sinensis (L.) Kuntz and (2) Camellia sinensis var. clonal assamica (Masters) Kitam.

It is an evergreen shrub or small tree that is usually trimmed to below two metres (six feet) when cultivated for its leaves. It has a strong taproot. The flowers are yellow-white, 2.5–4 cm in diameter, with 7 to 8 petals.

The seeds of Camellia sinensis and Camellia oleifera can be pressed to yield tea oil, a sweetish seasoning and cooking oil that should not be confused with tea tree oil, an essential oil that is used for medical and cosmetic purposes, and originates from the leaves of a different plant.

Camellia sinensis plant, with cross-section of the flower (lower left) and seeds (lower right).The leaves are 4–15 cm long and 2–5 cm broad. Fresh leaves contain about 4% caffeine. The young, light green leaves are preferably harvested for tea production; they have short white hairs on the underside. Older leaves are deeper green. Different leaf ages produce differing tea qualities, since their chemical compositions are different. Usually, the tip (bud) and the first two to three leaves are harvested for processing. This hand picking is repeated every one to two weeks.

Camellia sinensis is mainly cultivated in tropical and subtropical climates, in areas with at least 127 cm. (50 inches) of rainfall a year. However, the clonal one is commercially cultivated from the equator to as far north as Cornwall on the UK mainland. Many high quality teas are grown at high elevations, up to 1500 meters (5,000 ft), as the plants grow more slowly and acquire a better flavour.

Tea plants will grow into a tree if left undisturbed, but cultivated plants are pruned to waist height for ease of plucking. Two principal varieties are used, the small-leaved Chinese variety plant (C. sinensis sinensis) and the large-leaved Assamese plant (C. sinensis assamica), used mainly for black tea.

Click to see:How To Grow Tea (Camellia Sinensis) :

Medical uses:

*The leaves have been used in traditional Chinese medicine and other medical systems to treat asthma (functioning as a bronchodilator), angina pectoris, peripheral vascular disease, and coronary artery disease.

*Tea extracts have become field of interest, due to their notional antibacterial activity. The preservation of processed organic food and the treatment of persistent bacterial infections are particularly being investigated.

*Green tea leaves and extracts have shown to be effective against bacteria responsible for bad breath.

*The tea component epicatechin gallate is being researched because in vitro experiments showed it can reverse methicillin resistance in bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus. If confirmed, this means the combined intake of a tea extract containing this component might also enhance the effectiveness of methicillin treatment against some resistant bacteria in vivo.

Click to see different medicinal uses:

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


Herbs & Plants

Tea-Oil Plant (Camellia oleifera)

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Botanical Name : Camellia oleifera
Family :        Theaceae
Genus :          Camellia
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales
Species: C. oleifera
Common NamesOil-seed Camellia, Tea Oil Camellia, or Lu Shan Snow Camellia

Habitat : E. Asia . It is widely distributed in China and is cultivated extensively there. It is found in forests, thickets, banks of streams and foothills at elevations of 500 to 1,300 metres. Woodland Garden; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge;

An evergreen Shrub growing to 4m by 1.5m.
It is hardy to zone 8 and is frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower from October to April, and the seeds ripen in September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.
This species looks much similar to Camellia sasanqua except the dark green, evergreen leaves are a bit larger, three to five inches long and two to three inches wide. Single, white, fragrant flowers are produced in late winter, and this large shrub or small tree will reach a height of 16 to 20 feet with thin, upright, multiple trunks and branches. The crown forms a rounded or oval vase with lower branches removed

The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soil. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.

Prefers a woodland soil but thrives in a warm open well-drained loam if leafmould is added. A calcifuge plant, preferring a pH between 5 and 7. Prefers the partial shade of a light woodland. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c. It succeeds on a wall at Kew and outdoors in milder areas. Prefers a wet summer and a cool but not very frosty dry winter. Plants are not very self-compatible, self-fertilized flowers produce few seeds and these are of low viability. This species has been cultivated for many centuries in China for the oil in its seed. A very ornamental plant, some named forms have been developed for their ornamental value. This species is closely related to C. sasanqua.

Seed – can be sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse. Stored seed should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in warm water and the hard covering around the micropyle should be filed down to leave a thin covering. It usually germinates in 1 – 3 months at 23°c. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions when they are more than 15cm tall and give them some protection from winter cold for their first year or three outdoors. Cuttings of almost ripe wood, 10 – 15cm with a heel, August/September in a shaded frame. High percentage but slow. Cuttings of firm wood, 7 – 10cm with a heel, end of June in a frame. Keep in a cool greenhouse for the first year. Leaf-bud cuttings, July/August in a frame.

Edible Uses

Edible Uses: Oil.

An oil obtained from the seed is used in cooking.

The seeds of Camellia sinensis and Camellia oleifera can be pressed to yield tea oil, a sweetish seasoning and cooking oil that should not be confused with tea tree oil, an essential oil that is used for medical and cosmetical purposes and originates from the leaves of a different plant. The seed oil can be used as treatment of ringworm. Tea-oil Camellia is commonly over 80% monounsaturated fat. As such, it reduces LDL (‘bad cholesterol’). Tea Oil is also known as “Tea Seed Oil” when sold as cooking oil in supermarkets throughout Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

It can also used in textile manufacture, soap making and as an illuminant. Camellia oil is also traditionally used to protect Japanese woodworking tools and cutlery from corrosion and is currently sold for that purpose

Medicinal Actions &  Uses
The seed oil is used in the treatment of ringworm.

Other Uses
Dye; Insecticide; Oil.

A non-drying oil is obtained from the seed – used in textile manufacture, soap making and as an illuminant. The oil consists mainly of olein. It is not subject to polymerize or oxidize, nor does it form solids at low temperatures. A grey dye is obtained from the pink or red petals. The seed cake has insecticidal activity.


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Herbs & Plants

Leptospermum Scoparium

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Botanical Name : Leptospermum scoparium
Family: Myrtaceae
Genus: Leptospermum
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Myrtales
Species: L. scoparium
Common Name :  “Tea Tree” is also shared with the related Melaleuca tree of Australia suggesting that both were used to make tea by Captain Cook.
Other Names: Manuka or Tea tree or just Leptospermum
Habitat : Native to New Zealand and southeast Australia. It is found throughout New Zealand but is particularly common on the drier east coasts of the North Island and the South Island, and in Australia in Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales. Manuka (from Maori ‘manuka’) is the name used in New Zealand, and ‘tea tree’ is a common name in Australia and to a lesser extent also in New Zealand. This name arose because Captain Cook used the leaves to make a ‘tea’ drink.

Description :It is a prolific scrub-type tree and is often one of the first species to regenerate on cleared land. It is typically a shrub growing to 2–5 m tall, but can grow into a moderately sized tree, up to 15 m or so in height. It is evergreen, with dense branching and small leaves 7–20 mm long and 2–6 mm broad, with a short spine tip. The flowers are white, occasionally pink, 8–15 mm (rarely up to 25 mm) diameter, with five petals.


This species is often confused with the closely related species Kanuka – the easiest way to tell the difference between the two species in the field is to feel their foliage – Manuka leaves are prickly while Kanuka leaves are soft. The wood is tough and hard, and was often used for tool handles. Manuka sawdust imparts a delicious flavour when used for smoking meats and fish.

It is hardy to zone 8 and is frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower from May to June. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid and neutral soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry or moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

.Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Manna.

Edible Uses: Tea.

The fresh, pungent leaves are a fragrant and refreshing tea substitute . Of excellent quality, in taste trials this species has often received higher marks than the traditional China tea obtained from Camellia sinensis[K]. It is important to brew the leaves for considerably longer than normal teas to ensure the flavour is released into the water[K]. A sweet manna is sometimes exuded from the stems as a result of insect damage . Another report says that manna is reported to form on the leaves .

Other Uses

Dye; Hedge; Insecticide; Roofing; Wood.

This species can be grown as a hedge in the milder areas of Britain  and is reasonably tolerant of maritime exposure. Plants should not be trimmed back into old wood, however, because they do not regenerate from such treatment. A yellow-green dye is obtained from the flowers, branches and leaves. A greenish-black dye is obtained from the flowers. Source of an insecticide (no further details). Wood – red, strong, elastic. Used for inlay work, cabinet making etc. The bark is used for roofing huts.

Scented Plants
Flowers: Crushed
The flowers, when handled, possess an aromatic fragrance.
Leaves: Crushed
The leaves, when handled, possess an aromatic fragrance.
Cultivation details
Succeed in almost any neutral or acid soil of good or reasonable quality[200], preferring a light sandy loam and full sun. Succeeds in dry soils. Prefers a position sheltered from hot or cold drying winds. We have found the plants to be fairly tolerant of maritime exposure[K]. The plant only succeeds outdoors in the milder areas of Britain. Hardy to about -10°c, succeeding outdoors in most of Southern Britain. A polymorphic species, many forms have been developed for their ornamental value. There are some dwarf varieties that grow very well in pots in cold greenhouses and conservatories. Resents root disturbance. Plants do not regenerate from old wood. The bruised leaves and the flowers are pleasantly aromatic. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus.

Seed – sow spring in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts, and give some protection from the cold for their first winter or two outdoors. The seed remains viable for many years. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 – 8 cm with a heel, early August in a frame. Over-winter in the greenhouse for its first year. Good percentage. Cuttings of almost mature wood, 4 – 5 cm with a heel, October/November in a frame. Good percentage.


A dwarf form with small white flowers.
A dwarf form with small red flowers

Medicinal Uses:
Manuka products have high antibacterial potency for a limited spectrum of bacteria and are widely available in New Zealand. Similar properties led the Maori to use parts of the plant as natural medicine.

Kakariki parakeets (Cyanoramphus) use the leaves and bark of Manuka and Kanuka to rid themselves of parasites. Apart from ingesting the material, they also chew it, mix it with preen gland oil and apply it to their feathers.

Manuka honey, produced when honeybees gather the nectar from its flowers, is distinctively flavoured, darker and richer in taste than clover honey and has strong antibacterial and antifungal properties. The finest quality Manuka honey with the most potent antimicrobial properties is produced from hives placed in wild, uncultivated areas with abundant growth of Manuka bushes. However a very limited number of scientific studies have been performed to verify its efficacy.

The University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand has formed the Waikato Honey Research Unit to study the composition of honey and its antimicrobial activity. The Active Manuka Honey Association (AMHA) is the industry association that promotes and standardizes the production of Manuka honey for medical uses. They have created the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) standard which grades honey based on its anti-bacterial strength. In January 2008 Professor Thomas Henle, University of Dresden (Germany) identified methylglyoxal as the active compound in Manuka honey. This is now shown on products as MGO Manuka honey. E.g. MGO 100 represents 100 mg of methylglyoxal per kilogram.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


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News on Health & Science

Drinking Tea ‘Reduces Stroke Risk’

Here’s some good news for tea-lovers: having three or more cups of the drink everyday can cut the risk of stroke, says a new study.

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According to Lenore Arab, professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine, drinking the beverage can reduce the threat by as much as 21%.

UCLA boffins observed that the result was obtained in tea made from the plant Camellia sinensis and not from herbs. It was contemplated that anti-oxidant epigallocatechin gallate or the amino acid Theanine in teas may be what leads to the reduced risks.

“By drinking three cups of tea a day, the risk of a stroke was reduced 21%,” the New York Daily News quoted Arab as saying. “That’s why these findings are so exciting. If we can find a way to prevent the stroke, or prevent the damage, that is simple and not toxic, that would be a great advance,” he added.

Sources: The Times Of India

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Herbs & Plants

Aspalathus Linearis (Rooibos)

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Botanical Name : Aspalathus linearis
Family:    Fabaceae
Tribe:    Crotalarieae
Genus:    Aspalathus
Order:    Fabales

Synonyms: Aspalathus contaminatus – auct. Borbonia pinifolia – Marloth.
Common names : rooibos tea ( Eng. ), rooibostee, bossietee (Afr.)
Habitat : Aspalathus linearis is naturally distributed in the winter rainfall area from about Vanrhynsdorp in the north to the Cape Peninsula and the Betty’s Bay area in the south. The area experiences cold wet winters and hot dry summers with about 300-350 mm of rain per annum. Rooibos tea is made from selected forms of the species found mainly on the Cederberg Mountains. It is cultivated on sandy soils in the valleys of the Olifants, Breede and Hex Rivers (Dahlgren 1988).

Derivation of name and historical aspects :
The genus name Aspalathus is derived from the Greek aspalathos, which was the name of a scented bush that grew in Greece. The epithet linearis is derived from the Latin word for linear, which in this case refers to the shape of the leaves.

Aspalathus linearis is an erect to spreading, highly variable shrub or shrublet up to 2 m high. Its young branches are often reddish. The leaves are green and needle-like, 15-60 mm long and up to about 1 mm thick. They are without stalks and stipules and may be densely clustered. The yellow flowers, which appear in spring to early summer, are solitary or arranged in dense groups at the tips of branches. The fruit is a small lance-shaped pod usually containing one or two hard seeds.

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Although many of the plants in the genus Aspalanthus are attractive, they have apparently seldom been grown in gardens. This is thought to be due to the difficulty in propagation by seed or root cuttings and in providing the optimal growing conditions for the plants. In order to grow Aspalathus linearis successfully, seeds must first be scarified and then planted in acid, sandy soils.

There are commercial plants of rooibos at the Cape. According to Mr S de Beer of Lambertshoek farm, Clanwillian, seeds which are obtained from the local rooibos tea management board have been treated and germinate easily. They are planted in seedbeds in March to a depth of 5-10cm and are ready for planting out by July. Plants are generally rainfall dependent and the plants prefer not to be too wet. No fertilizing is required and the plants grow quite well in nutrient poor conditions. The most common pest is Loopers or “Landmeter wurmpies” (the larvae of the family Geometridae and of the order Lepidoptera)

Cultivation:Aspalathus  Linearis  grows in sandy hills and on the sides of mountains. Well-drained, sandy but moisture-retaining, non-acidic soils. Generally farmers plant seeds in February and March and then transfer the seedlings to plantations. It takes 12- 18 months before the shrubs are ready to be harvested. The plants are harvested once each year, from December through April. They are harvested up to period of five years and then pulled out and new plants are planted.

Seed – sow late spring in a greenhouse covering the seed with about 10mm of soil. It will probably be beneficial to pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water prior to sowing. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots of well-drained sandy soil as soon as they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer after the last expected frosts. It will probably be wise to give the plants protection from the cold and from excessive rain for at least their first winter outdoors. Cuttings of half-ripe wood in a closed frame in early summer


The basic method of rooibos harvesting has remained largely the same as the process used centuries ago. An environmentally friendly way of harvesting tea is used that involves cutting only the young branches. Once they are cut, they are neatly bound and transported to the process yards. The older branches are left on the tree and the bushes get slightly taller every year. The tea cuttings are chopped very fine and then bruised to ensure that the important chemical reaction which develops the characteristic colour and flavour of the tea can take place. After watering and airing, the tea is left to “sweat” in heaps and it at this point that the tea acquires its typical reddish brown colour and develops its sweet flavour. After the sweating process has been completed, it is spread out in a large drying yard to dry in the sun.
The rest of the process involves sorting and grading the tea according to length, colour and flavour. The finished Rooibos is finally weighed, bagged, and sold to companies who pack the product in either teabags or in loose leaf form under their own brand names.

Main constituents:Rooibos contains Magnesium, zinc and iron which are all essential to a healthy nervous system. Zinc and iron in particular are important for brain functioning and concentration. It also contains Vitamin C, Alphahydroxy Acid, potassium, copper, calcium, iron, manganese and fluoride.

Rooibos tea is a most popular drink for health-conscious people, as it contains no colourants, additives or preservatives and is free of caffeine.Aspalathus linearis is of great economic value. It was first used by the indigenous people of the Cederberg area and is currently a very popular tea.
A tea made from the dried fermented leaves tastes similar to oriental tea made from Camellia sinensis. It is less astringent, however, due to the lower tannin content. It is caffeine-free, but has a higher content of fluoride which might help to protect against tooth decay. Recent research has shown that this tea contains a substance similar to superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant compound that is thought to retard the ageing process. The leaves and stems are harvested in the summer, fermented and sun dried for later use. The leaves are sometimes used as a flavouring in foods and in baking.

Medicinal Uses:
It is considered healthy as it is caffeine-free, low in tannins and rich in anti-oxidants. It is not only enjoyed as a herbal tea, but is also used as an ingredient in cosmetics, in slimming products, as a flavouring agent in baking, cooking and cocktails and even as a treatment for infants who are prone to colic.

it has been used in the treatment of vomiting, diarrhoea and other mild gastric complaints. It has also been shown to be of benefit when used internally and externally in the treatment of a wide range of allergies especially milk allergy, eczema, hay fever and asthma in infants.

Many children with ADHD symptoms also suffer from various allergies and food intolerances. Rooibos is of great benefit in the management of allergies and to build up the immune system. Rooibos improves overall liver functioning, which helps the body to eliminate toxins and improves overall body functioning thereby increasing the efficiency of all organs of the body. Rooibos is endemic to the Cedarberg Mountains of the Cape and is not found anywhere else in the world.
(Treatment for Acne)  (Ingredient in ClearSkin FaceWash)
(Treatment for ADHD)  ( Ingredient in Focus ADHD)
(Treatment for High Cholesterol)  Ingredient in Cholesto-Rite)

Now known worldwide for its anti-oxidant and healing properties, the soothing and healing effect of Rooibos on the skin is remarkable. It is an extremely nutritious herb. Rooibos can help to control blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure and enhance immune functioning.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.