While visiting Family and friends in my home town, I discovered the Charleston Tea Plantation. Having visited tea plantations in China, Japan and Thailand, I couldn’t pass up this opportunity!
It turns out that the hot, wet and humid weather we all like to grump about is perfect for growing tea.
It all started in the late 1800’s with 2 tea companies, the Pinehurst Tea Plantation and the Golden Grove Tea Company. This marked the first time tea was successfully grown in North America.
These two companies faded away in the early 1900’s, and the Charleston Tea Plantation bought and restored many of these original tea plants.
The tea garden is located just 25 minutes west of Downtown Charleston on Wadmalaw Island in sunny South Carolina.
The garden was founded in 1960 by Lipton and is now operated by R.C. Bigelow Tea. It is currently the only place in North America where tea is grown and manufactured.
There are 150,000 tea bushes on 127 acres of land. Although the property doesn’t have an old style plantation home, you still feel that old southern charm.
The main building is the processing plant that also functions as a gift shop. Factory tours are free and if you go at the right time you can see them processing their delicious tea.
After visiting the processing plant we decided to have a walk around the grounds. There are paved sidewalks that lead to different areas of the plantation and a wonderful pagoda to sit under and enjoy the scenery.
The garden is large and very relaxing.
The primary tea they produce is the American Classic Tea . This is the delicious black tea that has become so famously known as southern iced tea.
I like to fill a medium pot with water and pop in two American Classic Tea bags. I bring this to a rapid boil for about 3 to 5 minutes. I then cover it and let cool, this also allows the tea to steep more.
This is by far the best black tea I have ever had. It’s strong and smooth with a slightly sweet aftertaste. It also pairs well with sugar, if you’d like to make southern sweet tea. I prefer it with a squeezed lemon wedge and ice.
They also produce some flavored teas and a couple of green teas. All of their teas are grown naturally with no insecticides or fungicides.
There is no cost to visit the Charleston Tea Plantation and all factory tours are completely free of charge.
The only tour I saw when I visited was a $10 trolley tour around the grounds. Becki and I chose to just walk around.
They’re open 7 days a week. Their hours are Monday through Saturday, 10:00AM to 4:00PM and Sunday, 12:00PM to 4:00PM.
Getting to the plantation from Downtown Charleston is a beautiful drive through a tunnel of old oak trees. Just pop their address (6617 Maybank Highway Charleston, South Carolina 29487) into your GPS and enjoy the view.