How Fertilizer and Soil Affects the Growth of Tea

Soil is the support base of plants in agriculture. As much as there are production techniques in environments without the use of soil (such as hydroponics, aquaponics, and aeroponics), the soil is still the primary medium where farmers plant and produce tea plants.

Plants grow and develop with air, water, sunlight, and fertile soil available. Certainly, with these adequate conditions, it is possible to guarantee good agricultural production.

According to agronomists, fertility is related to the soil’s ability to provide nutrients to plants, which is essential in modern agriculture.

Fertile soil sustains plants, stores water, and filters pollution.

Therefore, below we will understand how this fertility works.

Fertile Soil and Productivity

In the past, many people believed that tea plants only needed water to grow. But, after several studies, scientists realized that water, climate, temperature, and fertility are essential factors to obtain the desired final product with high productivity.

Imagine a producer who grows tea for two crops in a fertile area. At the first, he had at his disposal a favorable environment. In the second harvest, there were problems with the weather: less rain and low radiation and temperature.

The natural tendency is for this second crop to present lower productivity, together with different characteristics of flavor and aromas. This is because the plant did not have the same nutrients as in the first production cycle.

For this reason, fertile soil will not always be productive. The environment as a whole must be favorable during the entire cultivation period. This is essential in agriculture.

Tea Culture Throughout the World

The cultivation of tea is an agricultural activity which is carried out in many regions of the world. This exhibits a problem in fertilization studies due to a lack of research data in some countries.

The soil and fertility recommendations currently followed are based on studies carried out in different geographical places and on the estimation of nutrient export through foliar analysis. This factor explains most of the problems regarding productivity, flavor, and aroma concerning the geographic region where the product comes from.

It is known that the tea-producing plant adapts very well to low-fertility conditions but to obtain a high production, the plant presents a considerable requirement of nutrients.

Nutrients have different roles and results in plants. To work well, they have to be in precise conditions and amounts. In general, we can say that the plant grows well and exhibits excellent final quality in moist, well-drained, acidic soils rich in organic matter.

Among the essential nutrients, nitrogen is essential for production and maintenance of tea plant leaves. Potassium is a vital part of increasing the production of the plant’s flowers.

How Soil Fertilization and Fertility Change the Beverage

In recent years, world tea production has increased more than consumption, implying a greater need for high productivity and quality. Despite this, precise and efficient criteria have not yet been established to predict the quality of tea from the leaves, as well as which agronomic practices contribute to the increase in quality.

Although the mechanisms are still being discovered, the amount of fertilization is one of the factors known to directly impair the quality of the beverage.

Factors, such as excess nitrogen, lack of copper, and irregular phosphorus levels contribute to a low-quality final product. These create changes to the plant’s metabolism, which generate compounds responsible for the final flavor and aroma.


Tea production is a fast-growing agricultural activity with a constant increase in demand. The culture also began to establish itself in several countries outside Asia, where we find most research and studies on the plant and the drinks that derive from it.

Thus, for non-Asian producers, there is still a lack of data necessary to achieve stable production of good quality tea, but even so, nowadays it is not that difficult to find good quality tea.

The featured image at the beginning of this post is from Engin_Akyurt of PixaBay.

Marcelo Pedraz

Marcelo Pedraz

Marcelo Pedraz is a Brazilian biologist who studied biology & animal science at Universidade Estadual Paulista - UNESP.

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