You don’t need a large garden or farm to grow your own tea as a planter on a balcony would work just fine. Understanding the tea plant, its organic growing requirements, and how to harvest the leaves will allow you to enjoy homegrown tea. The same plant can be used to make organic green, oolong, or black tea.
Growing camellia sinensis requires a fertile, well-drained moisture retentive lime-free soil in full sun. Prefers a soil that does not contain much nitrogen. Plants are shade tolerant and succeed in most soils.This species is not very cold hardy and is only likely to succeed outdoors in the very mildest parts of Britain. It tolerates temperatures down to at least -7°c in California gardens but this cannot be translated directly to British gardens because of cooler summers and longer colder and wetter winters. Seed takes about 12 months to develop on the plant, the woody seed capsules persist for 3 or more years. Any pruning is best done after the plants have flowered with the intention of maintaining a compact habit.
To process organic tea leaves for green tea:
1) Pluck the very youngest leaves and leaf buds.
2) Blot the leaves dry, and let them dry in the shade for a few hours.
3) Steam the leaves (like you would vegetables) on your stove for about a minute. (For a different flavor, try roasting them in a skillet for 2 minutes instead of steaming.)
4) Spread the leaves on a baking sheet and dry them in the oven at 250 F for 20 minutes.
5) Store the dried tea leaves in an air-tight container