Have you ever seen a tea plant?
The tea plant is an evergreen of the Camellia family that is native to China, Tibet and northern India. The small leaf variety we’re talking about is known as “Camellia sinensis”. There are four main types of tea: green tea, black tea, oolong tea and white tea. All tea comes from the same plant. The specific variety of tea plant and the way the leaves are processed after harvesting determine the type of tea that is created.
For years I’ve tasted many types of teas and being from the South, had my share of sweet tea, but I had never seen a tea plant in nature. We certainly all know about the health benefits of drinking tea! So, this summer, while on our way to attend our nephew’s wedding in Charleston, S.C., we took a diversion to the one and only Tea Plantation in the whole United States called “The Charleston Tea Plantation” located in Wadmalaw Island in South Carolina.
As an Aromatherapist, blending teas seem to come natural to me, so I was extremely excited to see it. Of course, no one expected it to be record heat that weekend, but we enlisted some relatives to join us and arrived just as they were opening. Along the drive to the plantation you are surrounded by beautiful large oak trees and you get caught up in the history and heritage of this unique area.
We visited the Plantation Gift Shoppe first where you can sample all of their teas, either hot or cold, as well as having a full array of teas and tea gifts. We also visited the free short walk through of the tea facility with videos describing each step of the tea from harvesting to packaging while waiting for the Trolley Tour.
The Trolley Tour (35-40 minutes) was extremely informational as we enjoyed the scenic ride among the tea plants surrounded by oak trees and a beautiful chestnut tree around the 127 acre farm. On the farm there are more than 320 varieties of tea plants and they discuss horticultural aspects and various stages of tea plants and growth and how tea plants came to be in Wadmalaw Island in South Carolina. We also got to see the “Green Giant” (although this one was blue) in action, a custom design harvester in action to the hot house.
The Gift Shoppe also told us about visiting The Angel Oak not too far away from the Tea Plantation which was also amazing.
I don’t want to spoil the tea plantation adventure by telling you everything we learned, so that if you ever have the opportunity to visit “The Charleston Tea Plantation”, there will still be a bit of mystery for you to discover!