Located on Wadmalaw Island in SC, the Charleston Tea Plantation was established in 1987, being the only tea plantation in North America. This is also the only brand exclusively creating products with 100% tea grown in America.
The Charleston Tea Plantation Story
Owned by the Bigelow Tea Company and selling the brand name “American Classic Tea”, the Charleston Tea Plantation is 20 miles south of Charleston. They host the First Flush Festival every year to celebrate the beginning of the harvest season.
- 1666 – Captain Robert Sanford and his crew landed on the shores of Rockville, South Carolina and claimed the land for England and the Lord’s Proprietors.
- Late 1700’s – the first Camellia Sinensis tea bushes arrived in the U.S. from China. It took over 150 years to finally grow the tea successfully.
- 1888 – Dr. Charles Shepard founded the Pinehurst Tea Plantation in Summerville, creating award-winning teas until his death in 1915. The plantation was closed and the tea bushes grew wild for 45 years.
- 1963 – The tea plants were transplanted from Pinehurst to a 127 acre potato farm on Wadmalaw Island, creating an experimental farm, where research was conducted over the next 24 years by the Lipton company.
- 1987 – William Barclay Hall bought the land and converted the farm to a commercial operation. A 3rd generation tea taster educated in London, England, he founded the Charleston Tea Plantation and created American Classic Tea.
- 2003 – Reaching out to the Bigelow tea family, William entered a partnership and Bigelow bought the plantation. With 65 years’ experience in the tea industry, they transformed the plantation into a true American icon.
Today, American Classic Tea has grown their base of faithful fans and created new teas under the Charleston Tea Plantation brand.
More Than Just a Cup of Fresh Tea
The Charleston Tea Plantation is a true working farm that provides a learning experience for tea lovers and those who want to get into the tea industry. A living piece of American history, the plantation stretches out as far as the eye can see, showcasing hundreds of thousands of tea bushes.
Guided tours and educational exhibitions include their tea factory, where you get to walk the entire length of the tea production building and watch the whole process on large tv screens along a glassed-in gallery.
There’s a 45 minute trolley ride that includes a stop at their state of the art greenhouse and you can shop at their gift store with countless tea-related paraphernalia.
One of Charleston’s most unspoiled islands, Wadmalaw is approximately 10 miles long and 6 miles wide, with the only connection to the mainland being a bridge crossing over Church Creek. It’s a perfect environment for growing tea, with sandy soils, an average rainfall of 52 inches per year and a sub-tropical climate.
Environmental and Social Responsibility
With a focus on making a difference, the Charleston Tea Plantation and the Bigelow family have their dedication to the environment and their community articulated in their mission statement, stating “do the right thing and good things will follow”.
Regarding the environment:
- They do not use any pesticides (herbicides, fungicides and insecticides)
- They use custom-designed irrigation systems that use only rain and pond water
- They ensure waste reduction by mulching and recycling
- They use Xlerator electric hand dryers which use 80% less energy than conventional dryers
The Charleston Tea Plantation have incorporated “Green Goals” into employee and department imperatives, which is a company-wide priority and they encourage recycling and energy conservation, as well as other conservation initiatives.
Charleston Tea Plantation Teas
Producing a larger leaf style, the Charleston Tea Plantation ensures their teas have a smoother and richer taste, whether you brew or steep in a pot or cup. Their fresh from the farm flavor of full leaf, loose American Classic Teas can be found in over 320 varieties of their black and green teas.
Gluten and calories free, this blend is made from South Carolina grown black tea, which is also Kosher. A hearty and robust tea without the bitterness, this is a fresh cup that is considered by some as halfway between a green and dark Ceylon or Assam tea.
A blend of South Carolina grown black tea that is also gluten and calorie free as well as Kosher, this tea includes natural peach flavorings and is not overpowering. Delicious and refreshing hot or iced, you’ll appreciate the mellow peach and light tea flavor any time of the day.
Wadlamaw Island Green Tea
Offered in pyramid tea bags, this is Kosher and gluten and calorie free, with a bright flavor that’s delicious with or without sweeteners. Carefully crafted to be America’s unique version of a classic beverage that’s centuries’ old, this tea is satisfying with a gentle boost.
The Charleston Tea Plantation is a great place for a day trip if ever you’re in the area. Along with bottled tea they sell body products, tea wares and accessories. Their website has a blog with recipes and you can even book a private event or wedding if you decide to choose this venue as an historic American landmark for inspiration.
Last update on 2021-01-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API