How to Harvest Camellia Sinsensis


Camellia sinensis is the broadleaf evergreen shrub that provides the dried foliage needed to make the tea beverage. Pruning of the shrubs promotes fresh, tender new shoots and leaves for harvesting. Pinching off the new leaves, usually the youngest two to three leaves per shoot, and then drying and crushing them yields a deliciously flavored tea.

Step 1

Prune the tips of at least 50 percent of all branches on the tea shrub in late winter. Wait until newly planted shrubs are at least 3 years old before drastic pruning in anticipation of tea leaf harvest.

Step 2

Allow the new shoots to appear from the pruned branch tips, letting them grow so that two to four young leaves are unfurling.

Step 3

Pinch off the tender new shoots with the youngest two to three leaves and collect them in a wicker basket.

Step 4

Place the harvested shoots into a steam basket, and let it sit over boiling water for 45 to 60 seconds.

Step 5

Dry the steam-treated leaves for 45 minutes in a dry oven at about 225 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 6

Remove the tea leaves from the oven and gently roll them with a pastry roller for 25 minutes, bruising and crushing the plant tissues. Or roll the palm of your hands over the leaves to roll and bruise them.

Step 7

Dry the tea leaves once again, this time in an oven or warm room where temperatures are around 150 degree Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.

Step 8

Crush the leaves as needed to brew fresh green tea with boiling water and a tea infuser or strainer.

Step 9

Harvest more fresh shoot and leaves of tea every 10 to 14 days on the shrub, as new growth appears after your previous pinching.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand pruners (secateurs)
  • Wicker basket
  • Steamer
  • Baking sheet
  • Dry oven
  • Pastry rolling pin


  • "Economic Botany: Plants in Our World, Second Ed."; Beryl Brintnall Simpson and Molly Conner Ogorzaly; 1995
  • 2BASnob: Tea Harvesting and Growing

Who Can Help

  • Imperial Tea Garden: How to Brew Tea
Keywords: harvest tea leaves, Camellia sinensis, tea leaf pinching

About this Author

James Burghardt has written for The Public Garden, Docent Educator, numerous non-profit newsletters and for's comprehensive plant database. He holds a Master's degree in Public Horticulture from the University of Delaware and studied horticulture and biology in Australia at Murdoch University and the University of Melbourne's Burnley College.