Tea plants grow in areas with humid climates and rainfall measuring at least 100 centimeters a year. In the United States, these zones include: 7, 8 and 9 for best results. This is why areas such as South Carolina (with the largest tea garden in the U.S.), Alabama, Oregon, Hawaii, Mississippi and Washington State host the most tea plantations and commercial tea farms in the nation.
In the United States, Camellia sinensis (the small leaf variety of tea) can be grown in the warmer parts of the country in the summertime; but it is best to plant tea in the late fall or spring seasons. Tea plants take a few years to grow - approximately three to seven years to reach full maturity - but the result is worth the long brewing time.
To grow tea, growers will need to first buy the Camellia sinensis seeds and space the plant about a square meter away from other plants in a partly shady spot outside. Tea is a perennial plant and can handle light frost but it does not grow well in extremely cold weather. The soil should be well-drained. All in all, tea plants should get about six hours of sunlight each day. Pruning tea plants is best in the spring season and will help keep the plant from growing out of control. Without pruning, tea can grow up to 12 feet tall; but optimal tea plants should remain at 2-3 feet high for the best tasting tea!
Each tea plant that is planted can be cultivated for more than 100 years. An acre of tea can yield 800 to 3,600 pounds of made tea each year. One pound of made tea requires 4.5 pounds of fresh picked tea or 2 to 3 thousand shoots.
Growing tea in the U.S. is slowly boiling with farmers, leading to an 8 percent growth each year.