Tea plants are propagated from seed and by cutting; it takes about 4 to 12 years for a tea plant to bear seed, and about three years before a new plant is ready for harvesting. In addition to a zone 8 climate or warmer, tea plants require at least 127 cm (50 inches) of rainfall a year and prefer acidic soils. Many high-quality tea plants are cultivated at elevations of up to 1,500 m (4,900 ft) above sea level: at these heights, the plants grow more slowly and acquire a better flavor.
Only the top 1-2 inches of the mature plant are picked. These buds and leaves are called “flushes”. A plant will grow a new flush every seven to 15 days during the growing season, and leaves that are slow in development always produce better-flavored teas.