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Tea plants are propagated from seed and cuttings; about 4 to 12 years are needed for a 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 in) 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. Though at these heights the plants grow more slowly, they acquire a better flavour.

Two principal varieties are used: Camellia sinensis var. sinensis, which is used for most Chinese, Formosan and Japanese teas, and C. used in Pu-erh and most Indian teas  Within these botanical varieties, many strains and modern clonal varieties are known.

Caffeine constitutes about 3% of tea’s dry weight, translating to between 30 mg and 90 mg per 8-oz (250-ml) cup depending on type, brand,and brewing method. A study found that the caffeine content of 1 g of black tea ranged from 22 to 28 mg, while the caffeine content of 1 g of green tea ranged from 11 to 20 mg, 

Fresh tea leaves in various stages of growth;

The astringency in tea can be attributed to the presence of polyphenols. These are the most abundant compounds in tea leaves, making up 30-40% of their composition.

Tea also contains small amounts of theobromine and theophylline, which are stimulants, and xanthines similar to caffeine.