We had an amazing day yesterday! We went to the Charleston Tea Plantation, on Wadmalaw Island, one of the sea islands just south of Charleston. We took a tour in a trolley that was converted into a bus. There they were, acres and acres of bushes that we learned were Camellia Sinensis tea plants. So this tea is a cousin of the beautiful flowering camellias found all over the southeast!!
Every other tea growing country has a very cheap labor source. Other countries pay the workers $3.00 a week to harvest the tea. That won't quite work here in the States, so this tea plantation invented their own mechanized system to harvest the tea. They used parts of a cotton picker among other things to make this machine that appears to roll over the bushes while picking the top layer of leaves and blowing them into the collection, or hopper area. The tour included the greenhouse where propagation takes place, the fields, irrigation ponds etc. We also had a tour of the factory where the tea leaves are processed into tea. It really was fascinating, and.... we got to sample lots of tea, iced and hot! The gift shop is new, and very nice. Of course we bought some tea, I chose Plantation Peach and Green Mint while our son selected the Charleston Breakfast tea , Green Mint and the First Flush. Tea plants' "first flush" of new growth for the season, is harvested to produce what is said to be the most unique, fresh, and amazing tea. It's only available once a growing season of course and was traditionally reserved only for royalty back in the day.
I've GOT to tell y'all about the hand lotion I got there. It is amazing!! My hands are always dry and a mess it seems. I've tried every kind of hand creme on this planet, but this is hands down the BEST STUFF. It's called
American Classic Glycerine Hand Therapy, and the scent is intoxicating and lasts hours and hours. This stuff is much better than anything in Bed Bath and Beyond.
|one of the ponds used for irrigation|
|rows of tea and the irrigation ditches|
|harvester in action|
|the resident gator, named Wally|
|greenhouse where cuttings are tended until they can be planted|
|the factory, where the leaves gathered at harvest are taken to be processed into tea.|
|the bar area is where you can sample all the tea|
|the map shows where tea is grown across the world and this is the only tea grown in North America!|
|The gift shop offers an amazing assortment of tea items as well as all the tea grown and produced here. Teapots, mugs, tea sets all gorgeous- and I brought one home:)|