Call me old fashion, but I have always used leaves to mulch under the tea plants.  This is not only the natural bed for tea plants but gives them the nutrition they need as the natural mulch turns to compost.  I have now gotten too many rows and can not physically get enough leaves out into the fields to do the job.  I have “industrialized” by turning to wood chip mulch.  When I was in nursery science at Auburn University, the instructors were not recommending wood chips as a mulch.  But now, my horticulturist brother, Dr. Jim Barrett, University of Florida said that wood chips would be good for the tea.  So I bought a large truck load and spread it out.  We shall see.