Charleston Tea Plantation (South Carolina states) : The only tea plantation in the United States


( The Charleston Tea Plantation is located about twenty miles south of Charleston, South Carolina on Wadmalaw Island. Owned by the Bigelow Tea Company, it grows the tea sold under the brand name American Classic Tea and Charleston Tea Plantation from the Camellia sinensis plant. Every year they used to host the First Flush Festival celebrating the beginning of the harvest season.

In the late 1700's, French botanist, François André Michaux, brought the Camellia sinensis plant to the United States and gave it to Henry Middleton. They planted the tea at Middleton’s plantation. The tea seemed to thrive in areas like Charleston and Georgetown. It took many attempts by multiple companies and individuals to successfully establish a tea company without an early failure.

These failures included plantations in Georgetown, Greenville, and Summerville, the longest of which lasted less than twenty years. The Thomas J Lipton Company, fearing an inability to import tea due to unrest in tea producing countries and the inability to import Chinese tea, decided to create a research and development center on Wadmalaw Island. In 1960, they bought the former Pinehurst Tea Plantation in Summerville and in 1963 they moved out to Wadmalaw Island and operated a research station for about twenty-five years. The Charleston Tea Plantation, as it is known today, was established in 1987 when Mack Fleming and William (Bill) Barclay Hall bought the land and the research station from the Lipton Company.

Mack Fleming—a horticultural professor at Trident Technical College—had been running the plantation for the Lipton Company and Bill Hall was a third generation tea tester from England. Along with establishing the plantation, they created the American Classic Tea brand. This tea is still grown at the plantation as of 2012 and the brand continued even though the Fleming-Hall partnership did not last past 2003. They had some differences in opinion on how to run the plantation and ran into trouble when profit margins began to drop. The plantation was put up for auction at this point, where the R.C. Bigelow Company in Connecticut bought it for $1.28 million. Bill Hall joined Bigelow at the plantation and keeps it running and growing the tea to sell across the United States. The Charleston Tea Plantation was opened to locals and tourists to visit and tour the grounds and the factory.

According to wikipedia

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