In my previous post, I talked about growing your own tea. Specifically I talked about growing tea indoors in a small grow tent. I know it’s been a really long time since that post, so let’s begin this one with a quick recap.
Basically, I had gotten a lot of questions from people about whether it was possible to grow tea indoors. I figured it was, but I did research and found that there are actually quite a few people doing this already.
I recommended a smaller grow tent, because I assumed most of my readers would be starting out small with only a few plants. If you’re making a larger garden, you would use a much larger tent or you could just use a room in your home. Naturally you could grow it outdoors, too, but only if you have the appropriate climate in your area.
Tea needs high humidity and a lot of rain to grow properly. The weather can’t be too cold either, but it can be high altitude weather in a subtropical climate. All of the world’s good oolong teas are grown in such areas: Darjeeling in India, Fujian in China and the mountains of Taiwan.
Growing indoors, the two main things you need to worry about are water and light. Plants need both to grow and when they are outdoors they get that naturally. But indoors they either get no light at all or insufficient light, so you will have to give them some artificial lighting to make up for the lack of natural sunlight. They don’t get any water, so you have to provide all of that.
In the previous post I mentioned two types of lights. I mentioned LED grow lights and fluorescent lights. Both are great for tea. The other options like ceramic metal halide or regular metal halide are probably not worth dealing with for a small grower. They give off a lot of heat and use a lot of energy. Plus, if you use them, someone might notice your high energy usage and you could have the police knocking on your door, thinking you are growing marijuana. You don’t want that.
High-pressure sodium bulbs make no sense, because they are mainly for flowering, with a reddish spectrum. Tea plants don’t need to flower. They only need to grow, so you would want a light with more blue spectrum light. LEDs are great because you can get them with any spectrum you want and they use less power and they give off less heat. Much less actually than metal halide lights. The drawback is that they cost a lot. That said, it is possible to get quite reasonably priced ones. Check out Grow Light Info for great reviews of the best inexpensive grow lights on the market.
Since tea plants don’t need to flower, however, fluorescent lights might actually make a lot of sense. For a small garden that is. For larger garden, you have to buy a lot of them in they end up using a lot of power and giving off a lot of heat. They are actually less efficient than metal halide lights in this regard, but because they are generally weaker, you will notice until you have a lot of them.
They also needs to have their bulbs changed often, so that adds to the expense. LEDs do not need these bulb changes. You can grow with them for 7 to 10 years without ever having to change the bulbs. At least for quality ones. If you buy a really cheap one from China, you might be changing the bulbs much more quickly. More likely, it simply won’t grow.
In conclusion, I stick by my recommendation from last time. I made that one hastily, but I’ve done a lot of research since. I still think LED grow lights are the way to go. Check out Grow Light Info and get one of the lights they recommend. That is probably the best way to spend your money on these things. They are much less expensive than the highest quality lights, but they are still high-quality enough to do the job. And that’s really all you need for a small tea garden, isn’t it?