I went climbing in the hills again today, and am very proud of myself because I identified my first Wild Tea Tree without the guidance of anyone else. It is a good season for this as There are flowers now (at least this at this altitude and latitude. I don't know about anywhere else.) The fresh leaves smelled a little bit like evergreen with a touch of menthol, but mostly very vegetal, and not much like tea at all! The flowers were a lot smaller than I had originally imagined them. I have a picture of a tea flower in one of my books about Pu-erh where the Tea flower looks to be about the size of a child's fist(with no size reference present), but the flowers I saw were nickel to quarter size. The picture is probably just an enlargement, although it was a picture of a Yunnanese Ancient Tea Tree, which has bigger leaves than the variety in Zhejiang, and the plant I saw was just a bush, while many of the trees pictured in the book were hundreds to tens of hundreds of years old and are full blown trees. Walking in the hills is a great time for thinking things over and having fantasies and I thought about wild tea and how I must roam through all of the mountains looking for wild tea trees, collecting tea leaves and processing my own tea. I bet it would be really hard to make anything worth drinking without a proper drying device. The tea bush I saw brought to mind an article I saw on the Cha Dao blog The Role of Stress in Tea Growth and Manufacture. The author says that Tea Plants subject to stress of various sorts make better tea. I bet the plant I saw today would make great tea as it was totally torn up by insects.
Sorry about the picture quality. The first one is focused on the background, the second one is not great either, but I took them with my cellphone, so c'est la vie.