Do you know the relationship between a camellia and a cup of tea? Today Southern Gardening is visiting the Great Mississippi Tea Company in Brookhaven and I’m going to show you what they have in common. The camellia grown for tea is Camellia sinensis and evolved in southwestern China. It can flower anywhere from late summer into November and produces pretty white flowers with dense groups of bright yellow stamens. The flowers aren’t used for making tea, but with bee hives nearby, a delicious light tasting tea honey is produced. In the garden this camellia can grow to 10 feet. But for producing tea, the plants must be a manageable size to harvest the leaves. Many teas are harvested by hand by removing the end two leaves of new growth. The tea plants are shaped into uniform square hedges and The Great Mississippi Tea Company uses a cutting-edge modern harvester. This harvester is moved across the production field collecting tea leaves several times a season. Whether you like black, oolong, green or yellow, these teas are all processed differently from the same Camellia sinensis plants. For more information on the types of tea that are produced and availability go to the Great Mississippi Tea Company web site, www. greatmsteacompany. com/ Did you know that tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world after water and is delicious. I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman and I’ll see you next time on Southern Gardening.