Charleston Tea Gardens

Fully oxidized tea leaves for a robust cup.

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Dec 6th 07 1:47 am
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Charleston Tea Gardens

by skywarrior » Dec 6th 07 1:47 am

Ok, yes, yes, I know it's owned by Bigelow. But something within me is simply intrigued over the thought of an American tea, http://www.bigelowtea.com/act/

I seem to recall trying the tea many years ago, but in bags. I don't have any particular impressions. They now have loose tea too. Has anyone tried this tea? What did you think?

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by Mary R » Dec 6th 07 2:52 am

The bagged tea is mostly African in nature, I think. A very, very, very little percentage of it is actually from Charleston. I called that plantation earlier in the year, though, and asked about their single estate stuff. They had some at the time, but I'm looking at the website now and see that they offer four blends: Charleston Breakfast, Governor Gray, Rockville Raspberry, and Plantation Peach. I don't know how much actual Charleston tea is in these loose varieties, but they are all much less expensive than the single estate they quoted me earlier.

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by skywarrior » Dec 6th 07 3:23 am

Interesting. So I'm not the only one who is intrigued over a tea plantation in the US?

That's too bad about the blend. Do you think it suggests it isn't quite the quality they'd like or something else?

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by Mary R » Dec 6th 07 4:38 am

I'm sure quality has something to do with it, but supply too. One little tea garden for a line in one of the bigger bag companies? It needs Kenyans.

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by Wesli » Dec 6th 07 7:48 am

TOO BAD

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by henley » Dec 6th 07 2:53 pm

I found out about the plantation a few months ago. After showing my 4 yr old how tea is made from leaves, she asked if we could go outside & pick some leaves to make tea. It was then I started searching the internet for a way to show her where tea actually comes from. Since Charleston is a regular place we visit, we are planning a trip to the tea plantation once they start production again in April. Don't know about the quality of the tea but regardless it should be a fun mother/daughter outing.

Something I have wondered... I noticed Bigleow's mint tea is referred to as "Plantation Mint". Will be interesting to find out if the mint is actually grown in Charleston.

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by Mary R » Dec 6th 07 3:32 pm

If you can, you might want to try to schedule your Charleston trip for their "First Flush Festival." Next year (2008) it will fall on May 17. I believe that is also the first day they make their unblended single estate first flush tea available for purchase. Their website also implies that everyone who goes to the festival gets a sample of that tea...which would be a nice perk.

And because I'm a supreme nerd, I called the plantation (843-559-0383) and asked about the blends I mentioned earlier. Unlike the bagged tea, they are made only with leaves from the Charleston plantation. The woman I spoke with didn't know if all the leaves in any blend were from a single flush, though. I guess it really doesn't matter that much with flavored tea.

I don't think Charleston will be the only US plantation for long--didn't some berry farm in the Pacific Northwest plant a bunch of tea for commercial harvest recently? I remember that news story, but not when it was projected to open.

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by divintea » Dec 6th 07 3:59 pm

That story is so adorable, henley. Please please keep us updated how the outing goes, even though it's not for a while. Your daughter is so astute! Maybe she is secretly brewing leaves outside right now to figure out her mystery!

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by Wesli » Dec 6th 07 7:13 pm

So Mary, you're saying this place can deliver to us our first American terroir tea?

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by Mary R » Dec 6th 07 7:54 pm

That would be an adequate abridgment of my anteceding affirmations, yes.

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by skywarrior » Dec 6th 07 8:04 pm

Mary R wrote: And because I'm a supreme nerd, I called the plantation (843-559-0383) and asked about the blends I mentioned earlier. Unlike the bagged tea, they are made only with leaves from the Charleston plantation. The woman I spoke with didn't know if all the leaves in any blend were from a single flush, though. I guess it really doesn't matter that much with flavored tea.
Their flavored loose teas are from the plantation? Awesome!

I would seriously love the concept of having an American tea plantation or two. I have no idea if it would be good tea, but it's a start.

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by thor0298 » Dec 11th 07 2:14 pm

I have a box of American Classic Tea from there that I received as a gift recently. I haven't tried it yet but maybe one I am done with the cup I am currently drinking I'll give it a try and write some impressions.

It is a very smooth blend of black tea. No bitterness at all. The smell before making it was very fresh. A very nice blend of tea.

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by Antony » Dec 12th 07 2:01 am

You're talking about the American Classic teabags right?

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by thor0298 » Dec 13th 07 4:03 pm

if you are asking me then yes

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by forkyfork » May 5th 08 7:15 pm

Thought I would give this topic a little bit of a bump.

I am planning a trip to the tea plantation this Friday, since my boyfriend and I are driving up to NC from Florida. It's really on the way.

I was wondering if anyone has actually been here and has done the tour. How long does it take?

Unfortunately we are going to miss the festival the next weekend, but they still may be processing the day before.