North America’s Only Tea Plantation—-And I Got to See It!!!!


P1120590One of the reasons we took a recent trip to South Carolina is because I have so wanted to go visit the Charleston Tea Plantation.  It was a fabulous sunny Sunday afternoon and I was in tea heaven!!!  Chris was such a good sport and made this trip happen and I think he actually enjoyed it as much as I did.

Tea wonderful tea!

Tea wonderful tea!

The Charleston Tea Plantation is the home of American Classic Tea, tea grown in America. It is located on picturesque Wadmalaw Island in the heart of South Carolina’s Lowcountry. Its grounds include 127 acres of Camellia Sinensis tea plants, a working Tea Factory and a charming Plantation Gift Shoppe. One of the fun things was taking a trolley ride throughout the tea plantation aboard Man of War—-a trolley that was used to shuttle jockeys around at races that the owner bought on Ebay!  

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Here is the background of the Charleston Tea Plantation as written about in their literature and on their website:

In the 1700’s the Camellia Sinensis first arrived in the United States from China. Several attempts were made in South Carolina over the next 150 years to propagate and produce tea for consumption, but none were triumphant.  Not until 1888, when Dr. Charles Shepard founded the Pinehurst Tea Plantation in Summerville, South Carolina did American grown tea become a reality.  In Summerville, Dr. Shepard created award winning teas until his death in 1915.  For the next forty-eight years the tea plants grew wild at Pinehurst.

In 1963, a 127 acre potato farm located on Wadmalaw Island in the Lowcountry of South Carolina was purchased and Shepard’s tea plants were transplanted from Pinehurst to the farm.  For the next 24 years research was conducted on this experimental farm.  In 1987, William Barclay Hall purchased the land.  Hall, a third-generation tea taster who received his formal training during a four-year tea apprenticeship in London, England, converted the research and development farm to a commercial operation.  Thanks to Hall’s persistence the Charleston Tea Plantation became and still is the home of American Classic Tea, 100% grown in America.

William Barclay Hall

William Barclay Hall in his younger days

In 2003, the Bigelow Family purchased the Charleston Tea Plantation and formed a partnership with former owner William Hall.  The Bigelow’s brought sixty-five years of experience in the specialty tea business to the Plantation and the American Classicbrand.  Since 2003 the Charleston Tea Plantation has transformed into a true American icon.  American Classic Tea has maintained its faithful fans since its start in the late 1980’s and has continued to prosper as a result of consumers wanting to experience tea grown  100% and produced in America.  Today the Charleston Tea Plantation offers more than just a cup of fresh tea.  Thanks to the Bigelow Family, the true working tea farm presents a learning experience unlike any other in the country.  The Charleston Tea Plantation is a living piece of American history!

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tea plants growing in the greenhouse

tea plants growing in the greenhouse

Up close and personal

Up close and personal

Picking the tea is actually left up to the Green Giant–a specially made one of a kind machine that has blades that cut the top of the tea bushes off   The cut leaves are blown into the hopper and then those are loaded into pickup truck beds once the hopper is filled. It is a very simple process and the plantation employs only about 30 folks–the majority of whom work in the fabulous gift shop.

Green Giant

Green Giant

A shot of part of the inside processing plant at the Charleston Tea Plantation

A shot of part of the inside processing plant at the Charleston Tea Plantation

The Gift Shop and factory in back

The Gift Shop and factory in back

Who wouldn’t love to have a cup of tea on the front porch here???  All you can drink tea was available inside with all of their flavors featured including iced versions of several.  The gift shop was fabulous and even though I did not take any pictures of it—believe me—we spent a lot of time in there finding treasures including if you can believe it—a teapot.

The trolley tour, the factory tour and the endless tea had me in heaven.  I would love to come back again and bring some friends for the first flush that they celebrate in May with the very first cuttings (and the best) of the season.   Anyone want to come???

Don’t forget my Giveaway is still going on.  Jump over here to read about the motivation behind the giveaway in February!!

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Comments

  1. No idea this existed in the US. how very cool! Another reason to go to South Carolina.

  2. McGuffyAnn says:

    Very interesting. I like tea, so this was really interesting. I am sure you were enthralled.

  3. I bet you were in tea heaven. Love that you think Chris may have enjoyed the tour also. You know, I never really thought about how tea grew. I suppose I don’t consider that about a lot of foods. Did you buy another teapot?

    • I was indeed in tea heaven! We had been to a tea plantation in Australia and this one was even better. Chris picked out a pot for me — it is actually probably a coffee pot as it is taller but for me it will hold tea!!!

  4. This sounds so fun. I’d love to go with you in May and visit a true tea plantation. 🙂

  5. I did not know there was a tea plantation in the USA, but I don’t know a lot of things. It sounds veriy interesting. Glad you could go.

  6. Your tea posts have me wanting to go out and get an assortment of good quality teas!

  7. Sounds like a tearific time! That porch would be the perfect spot to sip some iced sweet tea. My 16 year old recently went into an old middle eastern tea shop to buy a secret Santa gift for one of the girls in his class. She loves the tea, but they don’t allow women in the shop. I was against giving them our business, but who listens to the mom, he said it was fascinating and enjoyed sampling some of the tea which he said was brewed very strong.

  8. I didn’t know about this, either. Finally, something made in the States!

Trackbacks

  1. […] trip to the Charleston Tea Plantation included a teapot purchase , of course!!!  I let Chris pick out his favorite one out of all the […]

  2. […] steep your tea.  You might recall that Chris and I had a nice visit to the tea plantation and I shared my visit here.  It is such an amazing place and the tea—-oh the tea—-it is flavorful and fabulous so […]

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