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Charleston Tea Plantation

Submitted by on November 18, 2010 – 12:31 amOne Comment

Road Trips Foodies driving through South Carolina might want to stop at America’s only tea plantation. Located on Wadmalaw Island in the state’s Lowcountry, the Charleston Tea Plantation includes 127 acres of Camellia Sinensis tea plants, a working tea factory and (no surprise) a gift shop.

Visitors can learn how tea is made during a factory tour, take a trolley ride through the tea fields, and drink fresh brewed tea. The Charleston Tea Plantation is open year ’round.

The trolley ride is narrated by William Barclay Hall, who founded American Classic Tea in 1987. The Bigelow Family purchased the Charleston Tea Plantation in 2003.

The recorded history of Wadmalaw Island dates back to 1666, when it is believed that Captain Robert Sanford and the crew of the Berkeley Bay landed on the shores of what is now known as Rockville, South Carolina. On June 23, 1666, he and his crew claimed the land for England and the Lords Proprietors.

Wadmalaw, about 10 miles long and 6 miles wide, provides the perfect environment for propagating tea, with sandy soils, a sub-tropical climate and an average rainfall of 52 inches per year. The Island’s only connection to the mainland is a bridge that crosses over Church Creek.

The Camellia Sinensis plant, which produces leaves for both black and green teas, is grown in more than 320 varieties on the Charleston Tea Plantation.

The plantation got its official start in 1987, but its true history goes way back. 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 was triumphant. Not until 1888, when Dr. Charles Shepard founded the Pinehurst Tea Plantation in Summerville, South Carolina, did American-grown tea become a reality. For 48 years after Dr. Shepard’s death in 1915, 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 this farm (which eventually became known as the Charleston Tea Plantation). Every Camellia Sinensis plant growing on the grounds of the Plantation is a direct descendant of Dr. Shepard’s 1888 crop, making the Charleston Tea Plantation a living part of American history.

One response to “Charleston Tea Plantation”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Road Trips 4 Foodies, Michelle Nowak. Michelle Nowak said: RT @roadtripsfoodie Tour America's only tea plantation: Charleston South Carolina http://bit.ly/hdQsVX […]

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