For several years we have been trying pruning tea in different ways.   As I grew up on an agricultural experimental substation around research scientists, it is in my nature to experiment  with the plants I am growing.  So many producers cut their tea bushes very low and some even replace the plants after only a few years.  I was advised to cut my tea rows down low to improve production so I have cut several rows of them down to six inches from the ground and some a foot from the ground.  We have maintained some down low and allowed other rows to creep back up a bit taller.   The flat rows in this photo, I call “pancake” need to be much flatter.  I hired a person who needed work to cut them and they rounded them more than my instructions intended.  They are usually kept table top flat.

My conclusions are going to cause a flurry of emails and text agreeing and adamantly disagreeing , but here is my humble opinion.   I don’t like the low cut rows first because I have to bend over to pluck them.  They do produce more volume and do need picking more often.   They try harder.  The growth is of a different nature, fatter and juicer,  than the traditional “cupcake” shaped rows which are kept belly button high.  When we prune these we cut them back to the “knuckles” or scars from previous pruning’s or pickings.  We usually will cut away the knuckles every several years.

It has seemed that the leaves plucked from the higher, traditional rows makes a better tea.  The difference is slight, but several taste test batches has my wife and I thinking this.  I will have to admit our “tasters” have gotten a bit worn out over the years, but that is what we have concluded.  The low cut rows makes more tea and the higher rows makes a better brew.

Things are going well here at the tea farm.  We have several tours a week, sometimes every day, and our sales are very good.  Remember this is an outdoor farm with lots of bugs, peacocks, sunshine and rainy days.  We try to keep tourist out of the sun.  You need to call for an appointment, and we do not take online orders and do not take credit card payments.  Tours are $10 cash or check and children, whom few like tea, are free.  Next time we may discuss chemical fertilizers.  Come see us!

Donnie Barrett