Today we got a new plant. Here it is:
The one tied to the stake, guess what it is! Go on, guess! You'll never guess.
It's a tea plant! Its leaves, when it gets more of them to spare, will be able to be dried and soaked in hot water to make actual tea. If it looks like a camellia to you, well, that's because tea is a camellia; Camellia sinensis. We found one at the West Seattle Farmer's Market, of all places, from a guy whose main livelihood seems to be his apple orchard. He claims the tea camellia is actually quite easy to grow and care for, just like regular camellias. It can go straight outside, and is tough enough not to mind our occasional freezes; it's evergreen and glossy; it has fall flowers that, unlike most camellias, have a strong and lovely fragrance; it will only get bushier and happier if you prune it; and, coolest of all, after a couple of years it ought to produce these little nuts that, when planted, will sprout into more tea plants! I shall, if all goes well, be able to give away tea seeds to my dear ones someday.
Right now it's maybe a foot high. The guy claims it'll grow another couple of feet this year if the summer's warm, and next year we can take our first harvest for tea. Sweetness!
Hope we manage not to kill the lovely thing.