Camellia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Theaceae. They are found in eastern and southern Asia, from the Himalayas east to Japan and Indonesia. There are 100–300 described species, with some controversy over the exact number. There are also around 3,000 hybrids.
Camellia sinensis (Lat. from China) is a species of evergreen shrubs or small trees in the flowering plant family Theaceae. Its leaves and leaf buds are used to produce tea. Common names include "tea plant" and "tea shrub"
White tea, yellow tea, green tea, oolong, dark tea and black tea are all harvested from one of two major varieties but are processed differently to attain varying levels of oxidation, with black tea being the most oxidized and green being the least.
The name is given by Carl Linneaus to honor Rev. Georg Kamel's (1661–1706) contributions to botany. Kamel was a Jesuit lay brother, pharmacist, and missionary to the Philippines although Kamel did not discover, or name this plant, or any Camellia. In fact Linnaeus did not even consider this plant a Camellia but a Thea. It was Robert Sweet that in 1818 shifted all formerly Thea species to the genus Camellia.
In Japanese culture the camellia, valued for its brilliant flowers and sturdy branches, was once a source of dyes, wooden implements and oils. Edo Period documents describe nearly 200 varieties of camellia. A number that is disputed to this day when up to 3,000 varieties is discussed. A member of the tea family, the camellia blooms in November and December. For these reasons, it is associated with winter as well as with the tea ceremony.