Tea roses were developed, mainly by French nurserymen, from about 1830 onwards, by crossing some of the more tender roses that had been imported from southern China.
These were hybrids between the hardy R. chinensis and subtropical R. gigantea, and originally described as ‘Tea Scented Roses’ because their fragrance is reminiscent of the smell of fresh China tea leaves.
Tea roses flower continuously in warm conditions and, being too tender for northern Europe, were grown under glass in England for the cut-flower trade. A few more hardy cultivars emerged towards the end of the 19th century, by which time the colour range had been extended to blush, yellow, pink, mauve and red.
The elegant, high centred buds of the Teas, later bred into the hardier Hybrid Teas, became the accepted visual standard by which modern roses are judged.