I was. I had a lovely large plant that I bought online. Sadly I did something wrong, probably gave it too much sun last summer and it is no more. It was especially beautiful in winter with so many small white flowers with a yellow center. Good look with yours. They look nice and healthy.
I do not think you can grow the tea plant except as a houseplant in your zone. I have 3- bought from a seminar at the Charleston Tea Plantation. Mine are in mostly shade. Plants stay green all winter but I'm not that impressed with them- flowers are very small sand as the commercial says' those tiny little tea leaves' you would need a lot of plants to make tea. What other herb benefit would you have from this plant? Mine were 1 gallon when bought and have been in ground 2 years.
I'm growing it in zone 6b. I give it a wind break in the winter to protect from cold winds and the top dies off but the bottom leaves are a bit desiccated but come back fine in the summer. This year it was buried in snow for about a month, but it is fine now - just shorter and fuller. This year I am going to try making my own tea!
western NC, zone 7: Mine (Maidens' Blush, from Nichols)has been growing slowly for maybe 5-7 years? Remember that it is a Camellia, so look up Camella preferences & treat it like one!
For me, that is a southwestern exposure, rich but well-drained soil, slightly acid. Lovely small single camellia flowers, late winter. Tea plantations tend to run several hundred years old, because:
A) It does grow slowly
B) For tea, you only pick tender new-growth leaves (which is why you want to let the plant get good-sized before you start picking...)
C) Fortunately they are very long-lived bushes, once well established
D) No One in their right minds cuts down a well-established profitable plant! :-)
NOT a get-rich-quick crop, tho... But nice to grow & I'm looking forward to my 1st cup of home-grown real Tea. Unfortunately, I'll have to drink green (I do prefer Black, which has to be fermented), until the bush gets MUCH larger. Definitely a patience-is-a-Virtue plant.