Tea is made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis. The evergreen plant flowers annually; each flower carries one to five seeds. New plants are grown from seeds or clones. The saplings are nurtured in a nursery for one or two years and then transplanted. Hybrids are usually used for the sake of high yield. About 7,500 bushes can grow on a hectare of land. The bush can grow quite tall, but periodic pruning maintains the height at an approachable level. The bush needs regular manuring and protection from pests and parasites. The average age of a bush is about 60 years, after which it is uprooted and replaced with a fresh sapling. Between uprooting and replantation, the soil is left to rejuvenate. 

A bush matures in three to five years and produces a flush—the growth of new shoots. At low altitude, the growth of the bush is rapid. There is no flush in cold weather. Leaves are harvested every five to twelve days. Deft workers, usually women, hand-pluck the tender leaves—two leaves and a bud. The more the buds, the more the flavour and higher the price. The top of the bush goes into the most expensive blends. A worker can harvest about 18 kg of leaves in a day. Presence of coarse leaves or plucking through machines may affect quality. If leaves are bruised during or after plucking, breakdown of enzymes happens and quality declines.