Charleston Tea Plantation

August 13, 2013

Fields of green at the Charleston Tea Plantation

Fields of green at the Charleston Tea Plantation

 

The Southern states are dotted with plantations open for touring, but only one is a working tea plantation: the Charleston Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island in the heart of South Carolina’s Lowcountry.

The 127-acre spread is home to the American Classic Tea brand. The plantation produces all-natural black and green teas from the Camellia sinensis plant, a relative of the raisin family. William Barclay Hall, a third-generation professional tea taster, bought the plantation in 1987 and developed the brand’s characteristic taste. He sold it in 2003 to the Bigelow Tea Company but continues to oversee its operation and product development.

The plantation hosts educational farm and factory tours every day it is open and special events throughout the year. Hop aboard a trolley for a narrated excursion through the meticulously manicured tea fields and to the greenhouse, where propagation takes place under a precisely controlled climate. Perhaps the “Green Giant” harvesting machine will be at work–it’s a one-of-a-kind contraption fashioned from the parts of used cotton and tobacco harvesters.¬†Tea that is made from the first new leaves after the plants awaken from winter dormancy is called “First Flush.” Many fans of the early harvest claim the resultant tea is the ultimate in freshness. Once reserved for Royalty, the tea is now honored at the annual island-wide First Flush FesTEAval event that celebrates local culture, cuisine and hospitality.

Visit the¬†factory to learn about the history of tea and watch it being processed. You’ll end up at the Plantation Gift Shoppe. While sipping the free samples, you can browse the shelves for loose and pyramid teas in such flavors as Plantation Peach, Governor Gray and Rockville Raspberry as well as souvenirs and tea-preparation accessories. American Classic Tea also is sold in tea rooms, golf shops, gourmet food stores and online at http://www.charlestonteaplantation.com.

Taster’s Tip: If only genuine “sweet tea” satisfies your cravings, try the American Classic Tea recipe under the FAQs on the company website.

Tickets for trolley tours are $10 for ages 12 and up, and $5 for children under 12. Factory tours and tastings are complimentary.

The one-of-a-kind "Green Giant" tea harvesting machine.

The one-of-a-kind “Green Giant” tea harvesting machine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charleston Tea Plantation

6617 Maybank Highway

Wadmalaw Island, SC 29487

843-559-0383