Reader Question: Can I Grow Tea Indoors?
Over the past month or so I’ve gotten a number of questions from readers asking about growing their own tea. This was a strange one for me. It’s something I never considered before, but I guess a lot of people are trying to live healthier and tea is part of a healthy lifestyle.
Moreover, organic tea is even better. That way you know it hasn’t been treated with pesticides or other chemicals. And even though you can buy organic tea online, a lot of tea is grown in regions where you can’t trust these kind of labels.
Countries like Sri Lanka, China, India and Kenya are the four biggest tea exporters in the world. I wouldn’t trust a label from anyone of these countries and neither do most people. In fact people in those countries themselves don’t trust their own governments to properly enforce these kind of regulations. Organic tea does not necessarily mean tea that is organically grown. It just means that the manufacturer of that tea has paid off the right people to be able to label their tea as organic.
Growing your own tea at home solves this problem. You know exactly what it is being treated with and you can safely consume the tea knowing you’re not putting chemicals in your body.
The main problem you would face, and this is the problem most of my readers seem to have, is that most of them live in climates that aren’t especially conducive to the tea plant. Tea needs a warmer, but most of all more humid, climate.
A lot of tea does grow in somewhat colder regions. They are subtropical regions that are warm, but the tea grows at a higher elevation where it is cooler. It doesn’t freeze, necessarily, but it’s not scorching hot either. It’s not tropical weather.
The one thing it does have in common with the tropics, is the high moisture content in the air. All tea growing regions get a lot of rain and have very humid air. It is no surprise that the United States’s biggest tea growing region is Hawaii. This is the kind of climate tea loves.
So if you don’t live in an area with that kind of climate, what do you do? The answer is: you would grow tea indoors. Yes, just like all the other plants we’ve mentioned on this site, you can also grow tea indoors. And just like the other plants, you would have to provide water and light.
For the lighting, I would recommend fluorescent grow lights, if your tea garden is small. The reason for this is that tea does not flower. You only need to veg it. This means fluorescent lights will work well for a small garden.
If your garden is larger, they will be less efficient. In that case metal halide lights might make more sense, but LED grow lights would actually be best of all. They give you the kind of output you want and don’t cost you too much to operate. The upfront costs are higher, of course, but they pay for themselves pretty quickly.
That said, all of my readers that asked about growing tea indoors were planning to grow small gardens. For them, fluorescent grow lights make the most sense. This is especially true in the beginning when you are just starting out. You don’t want to spend a ton of money, if you don’t yet know if this is something you will continue doing for a long time. Figure that out, before you expand your garden and start buying expensive LED plant lights for your tea.
If you try and grow your own tea garden, please let me know. This is something I never considered before I started getting reader questions about it this month, but now I’m very interested. It would be difficult for me to grow my own tea at the moment, but I’m interested to know how it goes for you guys. I drink a lot of tea and would love to give my own tea garden a try someday.