Tea is a camellia species (C. sinensis), and like many ornamental camellias, it grows well in sandy soils with high organic matter, and tolerates both humid summer heat and mild winter freezes. In fact, the temperature and rainfall profiles of North-central Florida are very similar to some of the top tea production regions in China. Researchers at UF have been exploring the potential for tea as a specialty crop for Florida production. We are bringing together expertise in horticulture, agronomy, soil science, breeding, and plant pathology to develop suitable cultivars and growing recommendations for this unique region, and as new questions develop, we are expanding our team to answer them.
UF Tea projects have been funded by FDACS Specialty Crop and USDA-SARE grants. See what we’ve been working on, what we have learned so far, and what we have planned for the future.
Developing a new crop is a collaborative effort, and tea research is expanding to involve faculty and students from multiple departments and units. Learn more about our team, and what we are doing to contribute to the future of Florida Tea.
Tea is a long-lived perennial, but grants are neither! A two- or three-year grant is just enough to get tea plants established, not enough to answer long-term questions about yields or budgets. Donations to our Tea Foundation fund help keep projects going when the grants run out and there’s still tea to be made.