Tea 101

Tea and The Garden

 Tea has been one of the most popular hot beverages in Canada since 1716, when The Hudson’s Bay company imported it into the country. It took over a year for the tea to arrive and Canadians have been enjoying a nice cuppa’ ever since, in fact Canadians drink more than nine billion cups of it a year. It is also rather serendipitous that 300 years later, The Westholme Tea Farm, in the Cowichan Valley of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, just this year (2016) were able to harvest, process and sell their first teas from their unique, delightful and 100% Canadian grown teas!

We all know how much we enjoy a cuppa’ tea while we are out puttering in the garden. Lord knows it’s the perfect thing on a cool morning while mucking about with our bulbs this time a year! But have you ever thought of how you can use it in your garden? Here are a few tips on how you can utilize the amazing benefits of Tea in and around your garden:

1.) Were you walking through the woods and were completely taken with that gorgeous red colour of that vine climbing a fence, or a tree, that you just had to touch it? Getting overwhelmed with the beauty of the three leaved Poison Ivy vine has gotten a lot of folks in trouble. But using tea will help soothe the pain. To dry and sooth the pain of a weepy poison ivy rash some strongly brewed black or green tea will come to your rescue. Simply dip a cotton ball into the cooled tea, dab it on the affected area, and let it air-dry. Repeat as needed.

2.) So, you have enjoyed a nice cup, or pot of tea while sitting or working the garden. Now you have this pile of wet used leaves, or tea bags left over. Before you head to the trash bin with that green mess, head to your composter instead! Adding used teabags (make sure they are biodegradable) and used tealeaves feeds the compost with beneficial nutrients and helps to break things down too. To speed up the decomposition process and enrich your compost even more, pour a few cups of strongly brewed tea into the heap. The liquid tea will hasten decomposition and draw acid-producing bacteria, creating desirable acid-rich compost.

3.) Roses are such a beautiful treat in the garden, their fragrance and blooms and the hips they leave for birds and wildlife in the fall. But did you know that they could use a cuppa from time to time as well? Sprinkle new or used tea leaves (loose or in compostable tea bags) around your rosebushes and cover with mulch and then water in, to give them a midsummer boost. When you water the plants, the nutrients from the tea will be released into the soil, spurring growth. Roses love the tannic acid that occurs naturally in tea. Same goes for your ferns and other ericaceous loving plants.


4.) Okay, so you may not have a traditional garden, not a problem. You can use tea for your potted garden too! For healthier potted plants, place a few used tea leaves or compostable teabags on top of the drainage layer at the bottom of the planter before potting. The tea bags and leaves will retain water and leach nutrients to the soil. Schedule an occasional teatime for your ferns, bonsai trees and other acid-loving houseplants. Substitute brewed tea when watering the plants a couple times a year. Or work wet tea leaves into the soil around the plants. You love to see shiny leaves on your Ficus Benjamina or other glossy leafed plant? Take brewed tea, that has cooled, and dab a cotton cloth in it and wipe the leaves to give them a lush, luxuriant look.


Want to enjoy some amazing teas in a beautiful garden environment? Come on out to the Royal Botanical Gardens first Tea Festival, November 5th 2016, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There are lots of vendors serving free tea samples, informative talks throughout the day, come experience a tea ceremony, or walk the beautiful Mediterranean Greenhouse. After you have enjoyed the show, why not visit Hendrie Park or the newly re-created and world famous Rock Garden and more. It will be a great opportunity to start the holiday shopping as well. You can enjoy for the day, ½ day or just an hour or two, either way your registration gets you into all areas of the RBG. For more information visit http://rbg.ca/teafestival . Register early and save.

For more information, please contact Nancy Lee-Colibaba at nlee@rbg.ca or 905-527-1158 ex. 510