What is Tea?

Confused by cultivars and tea types? Get the lowdown on the world's most loved leaf.


Tea comes from the Camellia plant. About 99.9% of tea comes from Camellia Sinensis and the rest comes from obscure Camellia species such as Camellia Taliensis.

So in taxonomic terms, practically all tea is made from:



Below SPECIES is VARIETY. For tea there are 2 original VARIETIES - Sinensis (smaller leaves) and Assamica (larger leaves). Another variety called Cambodia is thought to be a hybrid of Sinensis and Assamica but it is rarely used to make high quality tea.

Below VARIETIES is SUBVARIETIES or CULTIVARS. The difference is simply that if a SUBVARIETY is cultivated by propagation (taking cuttings of the plants to ensure an identical genetic make-ip) then we tend to call it a CULTIVAR (CULTivated subVARieties).

When you are  investigating a tea the least that you should know is if it is a Sinensis or Assamica variety but at Mei Leaf we strive to give you the subvariety or cultivar too. This has a huge influence on the flavour and qualities of the tea.

We think you’ll love:

The perfect way to store your tea. Stackable tins which have been designed to keep your tea organised easily.

Long Jing - Dragonwell

First flush, pre-qing-ming Long Jing picked on 8th March from 40-year-old bushes of the small leaf variety. Sweet adzuki beans, lemon shortbread and palmier.

Organic Oolong processed in low oxygen to increase GABA to 200mg per 100g. Summer rain, apricot jam, wet wood and chestnut honey.

Ancient tree Raw Gushu PuErh from Da Xue Shan forests in Yunnan. Banana pudding, wild strawberries, flint and green bamboo.