Monday, May 19, 2008
Charleston Tea Plantation - Part 1
My 2008 birthday season is now officially over (and thanks for all the nice b'day wishes!), and the best gift of all came this weekend when my sweet husband indulged me with a trip to the Charleston Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island, S.C. for the First Flush Festival! You know it's a trip you've genuinely looked forward to when you do the tacky tourist thing and even roll down the car window just to get a picture of the entrance sign. I was amused to see the road sign (top photo) reading "American Classic Tea Ln."
The tickets were ordered and received long ago (DH said he wanted to be sure they didn't sell out), and when we arrived we learned that for $5 more we could begin our day with a trolley tour of the tea fields.
Of course we had to do that, and our guide was a nice gentleman with a good working knowledge of the Charleston Tea Plantation's operation and history. He was kind enough to even stop the trolley and allow me to snap some photos of the rows of tea plants.
Suddenly, those two tea "hedges" I saw here in Georgia a few weeks ago didn't seem quite so impressive anymore! The Charleston Tea Plantation is about 127 acres.
At other tea plantations around the world, workers pluck the leaves by hand. Here, they use a unique piece of harvesting machinery known as the "Green Giant." See how the business end of the machine rises over the top of the row? It uses a scissor-like cutting action to cut just the top few inches of new growth on the tea plants. On Festival Day on Saturday, all around the place were samples of this spring's "First Flush" of tea available to drink. And this tea really did taste especially fresh and delicious.
That's enough for today, so drop by tomorrow and I'll wrap up this little mini-tour with a bit about how they manufacture the tea. And those of you who've been before, feel free to share your own impressions if you like!