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The Tea Rose

Merrium-Webster defines the tea rose as such: a garden rose (Rosa odorata) of Chinese origin that includes several cultivars and is valued especially for its abundant large usually tea-scented blossoms. The words "tea rose" first appeared in English in 1838! Roses, or Méiguī/玫瑰, are said to have been first cultivated in China over 5,000 years ago. There are two main types of Oriental roses: the China Rose and the Tea Rose.

The primary European/Middle Eastern Roses are Damasks, Damask Perpetuals, Albas, Mosses, and Centifolias. Both are these Roses are known as Old World Roses. Where most European/Middle Eastern Rose bloom once per year, Oriental Roses bloom continuously throughout the season. However, Oriental roses were known to be less hardy than European/Middle Eastern Roses.

In the 1830s, European, namely (French and some English) cultivars were interested in crossing European/Middle Eastern Roses with Oriental Roses to create a hybrid flower that not only bloomed repeatedly throughout the growing season, but was also very strong. Some say that Eastern cultivators were also attempting to breed similar hybrids. After much experimentation, in the late 1800s, cultivators created what we now know today as Hybrid Tea Roses, which are New World Roses. So, we have Oriental Tea Roses to thank for the wonderful smell of Roses we enjoy today.

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