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Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Charleston Tea Plantation

Today we went out to the Charleston Tea Plantation. It is out on Wadmalaw Island. It is the only tea plantation in North America. It is also all organic. They do not use insecticide or fungicide. They do have deer, but the deer only nest in the bushes, they do not like the taste of tea leaves. They also said they have foxes that run around in the bushes.
History Bit:
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 tea Dr. Charles Shepard with Border 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 CTP Entrance Sign with BorderSouth 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.   

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 Classic brand.  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!

That was from the Charleston Tea Plantation Web site. 
On the road to the Charleston Tea Plantation.  You have to drive through Johns Island till you get to Wadmalaw Island.  
Pretty drive. 
On Tea Plantation property. The bushes on the right are tea bushes
Tea bushes!
King!  This stump is in the parking lot
The entrance
Lon was really not sure what to make of the frog
At the start of the trolley tour. It is free to get into the Tea Plantation, but the trolley tour is ten dollars for adults, and 5 for kids.  Lon said he wanted to do it. So we did. The trolley tour takes about 40 minutes
Our trolley. They bought it off ebay. It originally ran in Philadelphia. 
Live Oak
Inside the greenhouse with all the new cuttings. 
They explained to us how the cuttings were made and how they strengthened the roots. They will be planted in October. 
Since this is the low county and tea is not grown on hillsides, they came up with this harvester here in about 1970.  It uses a scissor action to cut the new growth off just the tops of the plants. 
Love these live oaks
Inside the propagation shed. It shows how to take cuttings and get them ready to grow into new tea plants
Fun sign
Inside the store. The factory is behind the store. 
The store also has as much tea as you want drink, hot, iced, sweet or unsweet.  Lon tried peach, he did not it very much, but the mint green tea he liked. 
The factory tour starts every 15 minutes. It is a video guided tour.  You move from one screen to the next as they talk about what is going on in the room to your right. 
On the way back to the car, Lon found this. He was not sure what to make of it!  
We had a great time.  We were going to go get some lunch and see if we could find Hobby Lobby. 
That was the plan. 
We said goodbye the turtles in the irrigation pond. This is pond two.  They did also tell us that there are gators who live in the ponds too. 
We had crossed back to Johns Island. We were on Main Road.  The car just stopped working. There were no warning lights or bells.  I barely made it off the road, as this was the only bit of road that had a shoulder.  There was a ruin of an older house just ahead.  The car would not turn over, but the lights and windows worked.   The road was busy, cars were coming very close to me. Two police officers passed me, but did not stop. The only person to stop was a guy with California plates. I told him the tow truck was on it's way and he said great and drove away.  I made brownie points with Mark because I called the tow truck before I called him. I knew I was on Main Road, but I did not know the area at all.  I looked up the cross streets on the garmin. The dispatcher was very pleased I could tell her that information.   
The tow truck driver let Lon lift the car up.  Lon thought that was pretty cool !

Once the tow truck driver found out where I was, he got there in less than 45 minutes. I was originally told at least an hour, maybe more. He got the car hooked up enough to take it to a parking lot to hook it up properly. He told me that where the car broke down was a very dangerous section of the road. He did not want me to wait till he dropped his first car off.  He was very nice.  I was still happy that if the car had to break down it did not do so on the interstate doing 75 miles an hour. 
Mark met us at the AAA  service center. I had no idea where to have them take the car!  A mechanic got in the car and it started for him, he drove it around the building. Pulled it into a bay because the parking lot was full. He told me that the car seems to work now, so might as well take it home.  Mark was going to take Lon with him.  I went to go find the keys, and the mechanic  came over to us and said, well, the car won't turn over.  Good thing I did not take it home!   The car is still there, and will be there till at least tomorrow.  Keeping my fingers crossed that it is not  a bank breaking  fix. 

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