All mature leaves left on the bush below the tipping and plucking surface are called the maintenance leaves or foliage. The growth of shoots which are harvested from a tea bush is dependent on the maintenance foliage. These maintenance leaves which are retained on the bush at the time of tipping play significant role on the growth of new shoots. The young tea leaves are not efficient for photosynthesis and therefore, cannot manufacture food (carbohydrate). The young, shoots on a bush, therefore develop at the expense of photosynthates produced by the maintenance leaves.
In a tea leaf the capacity of manufacturing food material develops gradually and a leaf does not attain full physiological efficiency until it has grown to half of its full size (it is about 5 weeks form unfolding of a leaf). Young shoots on a plucked bush are removed so fast and their constant removal stimulates production of new shoots at a rapid rate such that the maintenance leaves become essential for sustained productivity and survival of a plucked tea bush. The maintenance leaves manufacture carbohydrates which are translocated to the growing shoots for their growth.
Photosynthetic efficiency of the maintenance foliage is retained for about 6 months after which it gradually declines and the leaves ultimately drop off after about 18 months.
By tipping the primaries/laterals in light prune or skiffed bushes at different heights, a new layer of maintenance leaves are provided to the bush for efficient photosynthesis.
Two Leaves and a Bud Shoot