This article (via MUSE) discusses the role of women in cultivating tea: "Beyond the Paradigm: Tea-picking Women in Imperial China" (Weijing Lu, 2004).
(from web site): Abstract—This article explores the tension between women's labor and tea-picking through the Confucian norm of "womanly work." Using local gazetteer and poetry as major sources, it examines the economic roles and the lives of women tea-pickers over the course of China's imperial history. It argues that women's work in imperial China took on different meanings as ecological settings, economic resources, and social class shifted. The very commodity—tea—that these women produced also shaped portrayals of their labor, turning them into romantic objects and targets of gossip. But women tea-pickers also appeared as good women with moral dignity, suggesting the fundamental importance of industry and diligence as female virtues in imperial China.