I've had a few questions over the past few days which I thought I would address here so everyone will see the answers!
* Where did I find the teapot flash drive? eBay, and if you search for "teapot" and either "USB" or "flash drive" you should find them. I ordered mine from Hong Kong for 89 cents plus $7.50 shipping. I definitely took a gamble on this (I do not like to order from Hong Kong!), but it works great and I have already transferred some files to a friend using this flash drive. We agreed it would be great for espionage!
* How long will the Central Library's teawares be on display? Through Thanksgiving, the library director says, so you still have plenty of time to stop by if you live in the area.
* Where did I get the tea-themed outfit I wore at the library tea? eBay, again. It was still new with tags, and it originally came from QVC. The label says "Quacker Factory," if that helps. (If you're at all interested in tea-themed clothes, do a search online for "Michael Simon" and a word such as tea, teacup or teapot. I have a Michael Simon knit dress with teacups on it which I haven't even worn yet (need to lose a few more pounds!) but hope to wear later this fall.
And now, since a couple of you were interested in what I talked about, I'd thought I'd go right to the heart of the "History of Tea in the South" part of my library talk!
I had taken along the camellia sinensis plant I rooted for my friend Deberah from the one given to me by my friend Lynn, and I asked if anyone had ever seen a live tea plant. They had not, so I was happy they would all be seeing something new!
After a brief description of the difference in processing of green, black and oolong teas, I shared about my 2008 trip to the Charleston Tea Plantation, and of watching the Green Giant as it harvested the tea. The Charleston Tea Plantation was started back in the 1960s on an old potato farm. When I got home from that trip, I began to search online for more information about early tea production in South Carolina. Turns out, a Dr. Charles Shepard had actually planted tea in Summerville, S.C. back in the late 1800s, and tea plants from that abandoned operation were transplanted to the Charleston Tea Plantation. I found several vintage postcards from his Pinehurst Tea Gardens which you can see here and here.
One day I came across a Pinehurst postcard with an image that puzzled me, this one. They're described as "pickers in a tea field," but of course an image of young black men picking anything in a field wasn't exactly a cheerful image in my mind. I kept wondering how these youth became tea pickers, and so the postcard actually gave me more questions than answers.
Then one day, tea blogger "Tea Lover Denise" in South Carolina, who was moving to England, was giving away some of her things in preparation for the big move when she came across an old article she thought I'd like. Did I ever! It turns out that Charles Shepard had started a school for these young people (shown above), which certainly added a new element to the history of tea growing here in the South. According to the article, which appeared in a Charleston building industry publication, "After their lessons, they went into the fields for the labor-intensive process of picking tea leaves. The children were paid by the pound for what they harvested." As I told the library group, I really don't know much more about them than that, but I plan to make a trip to Summerville, S.C. and visit their museum so I can learn more about Pinehurst and those who worked there. It's a topic I find endlessly fascinating, and if you can add to the story please do!