Q: Can tea flowers and fruits appear on a tea plant because of stress?
A: Yes, I have heard and read something similar on line before. My answer to this question is another question “Do you mean, a natural cycle of life is the result from stress?”
Tea is a perennial crops that good quality tea are hand-picked of young bud/leaves from tea trees. In an ecological balanced natural environment or with the least human interference, flowering and seeding are natural psysiological habits of all plants, including tea plants. In a normal tea farm, roots of tea trees are not growing very deep, because roots can easily absorb nutrition from regular fertilizations; leaves grow faster and tea farmers would like to benefits from more production outputs. In case roots don’t get enough fertilizers from the surface, then roots will be forced to grow deeper to search. for the natural nutrition under; the life force of the plants is strengthened and it grasps the ground stronger. Is it the result of having stress? No, it is nature.
Yes, indeed if it allows the tea tree to give flower buds, it will affect the distribution of photosynthetic that affects the productive growth; the vegetative growth is relatively reduced. In other word, the natural cycle flowering and seeding process can affect the growth of tea tree which means reducing the tea production outputs. The small tea flower buds are gradually appeared starting from end September, normally from November to February of next year is the flowering period. The tea plants and the growing status of branches are closely related to the process of flowering. When and how much are depending how the Nature Mother is being affected by the weather, certainly the rain capacity, of course the choice of cultivation, tea farm management and quality measurement would play an influential role to the flowering or not.
In order to expand the growing territory, tea plants need friends from the Nature. If there were no assistance from insects on the pollination process then tea flowers normally open only for 10-15 days. Tea plants that have been pollinated will result the slowly grow fruits (in Chinese we call it “Tea Seeds”) .
Indeed the process of flowering and seeding will use up nutrients from tea tree; there are many tea farms do not allow the flowering seeding to happen, so they can arrange more pickings to increase the production outputs for their business. So what do they do to reduce the natural flowering and seeding process through manipulation:
- Manually remove flowers and seeds once appear on tea plants
- Trimming tea plants to break the natural growing cycle, meanwhile to increase the growth of young buds and leaves in the coming season
- Apply more fertilizer to accelerate the growth of leaves that plants won’t have enough energy to grow flowers and seeds.
- The worst manner is perhaps using pesticide, i.e. Abscisic acid, to regulate the natural hormone growth
So, let’s go back to the question. No, flowering and seeding are natural cycle of life for any plant, including tea plant, but it is not the result of having stress.
If we really want to save those ancient tea trees, then we should collectively support those tea farmers who respect the natural cycle of life and maintain a good microenvironment balance. Only healthy tea plants can ensure the continuation of producing good quality tea, it is not a simple quantity issue but a complex quality consideration. Tea is not just about profit and Loss in the business or the price you pay, it’s about how do we value and respect the Mother Nature and discipline the application of pesticide and excessive picking because of human greediness.