Blog 169: Why Do Tea Plants Need “Haircut”?

Reader who are familiar with our tea-making would know that we only have one harvest per year. Since the harvest is in spring and our tea-making is done in our facilities, our tea fields are less busy in other seasons. However, this doesn’t mean we can just leave tea plants in the wild when we’re not harvesting leaves.

Although tea plants growing in premium tea fields don’t need to be taken care of on a daily basis, we still need to do periodic maintenance to keep tea plants healthy and strong.

Among all necessary maintenance work, trimming and cutting is definitely one of the most important and interesting job.

Trimming and Cutting procedure is crucial to the production of fresh leaves

Some readers might wonder that since we emphasize so much about leaving our tea plants natural, why would we intentionally trim down tea plants? Could this affect the output of tea plants? Would this harm the health of our tea plants?

To answer these questions, we have to talk about why we give tea plants multiple “haircuts” every year.

First of all, the purpose of trimming tea plants is not to make them look better. The main goal of trimming and cutting in spring is to fix the crown and renew the growth.

A proper trimming can lower the height of the crown and make it easier to harvest. At the same time, cutting the top by just a little bit can help reduce the “apical dominance”. Apical dominance refers to the phenomenon that the top of the plant (main stem) is dominant over other sides of the plant.

When apical dominance happens, branches and leaves on the side are suppressed. Many leaves would stay in a dormant state. Therefore, trimming and cutting the top can encourage and stimulate the growth of branches and leaves on the side. As a result, tea plants can grow more and stronger branches.

There are different levels of trimming and cutting. The picture above shows new leaves growing out of tea plants that have been "deep-cut"."

More interestingly, trimming and cutting can help balance a tea plant’s aerial part and underground part. In our opinion, the aerial part and the underground part supplement each other. These two parts are both conflicting and united.

The root system of a tea plant requires the aerial part to provide carbohydrate, protein, etc. Of course, stems, branches and leaves need the root system to provide water, amino acid, and other nutrients. A proper trim can break this relative balance and boost nutrient contents stored in the root system. Cutting down old branches can help further reduce the overall nutrition demand and relieve the load on the root system.

In this picture, you can see where branches were cut. Also, if you take a closer look, the brown part the leaf stem represents where tea leaves were picked the last time.

Finally, trimming and cutting offer a few extra benefits. Less dense crown can limit pest damage because more light and air are allowed into the plant. Also, trimming and cutting primarily get rid of old and sick branches and leaves.

In conclusion, tea plants’ “haircut” is a crucial step in tea field management and tea plant maintenance. It helps harvest, reduce pest damage, improve production quantity and quality.

We hope you enjoyed today’s blog. As always, if you have questions or suggestions, please leave a comment, tweet us @valleybrooktea or email the author directly at zhang@valleybrooktea.com. Please also follow us on Instagram @valleybrooktea and join our mail list to get our daily tea updates and our latest promotions!

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