A Virtual Trip to The Charleston Tea Plantation

Correct me if I’m wrong, but my personal impression of tea in America is that people tend to reach for the coffee pot before they reach for the tea kettle.   While tea is boasted to have numerous health benefits, something about the addictive coffee still has people hooked on the beverage here in the USA.

However, even with all its coffee obsessions, specialty stores boasting coffee and elaborate contraptions to brew a cup o’ joe, America still has only one place where there are coffee plantations – Hawaii.

While tea cannot boat more than one tea plantation either, it does get you to think, no?

So we’re going to take a virtual tour of this tea plantation and what it is that makes this particular one special – The Charleston Tea Plantation in Wadmalaws Island, South Carolina.


The Wadmalaws Island, approximately 10 miles long and 6 miles wide, was established in mid-June 1666 when Captain Robert Sanford and the crew of the Berkeley Bay landed on Rockville, South Carolina.   The land is generally viewed as being the most untainted, its only connection to the mainland a bridge that crosses over Church Creek.

The plantation was formally established in 1987.   The soil is sandy, the climate sub-tropical, and an average rainfall at a whopping 52 inches per year, the island is perfect for growing tea with over 320 varieties on the full 127 acres.   Their tea plants are used to grow American green and black teas in particular.   Though technically, the tea leaf can manufacture Oolong, white tea, etc, the company has been so busy with their green and black teas that the company decided to focus on those two.   Since the land cannot be commercially developed, it is a picturesque island that has still remained untouched.

Climbing Onto The Tour Trolley

Climbing Onto The Tour Trolley

The only tea to be produced by these tender tea leaves?   American Classic Tea.   The tea is harvested in May and is celebrated at the plantation’s annual First Flush FesTEAval, complete with music, entertainment and, of course, tea.   Harvesting continues until the end of September, beginning of October, when the plants are allowed to rest for the season (hey, tea needs sleep, too!).

The Charleston Tea Plantation prides itself on the fact that they are an all-natural tea.   Their tea are flavored with natural essential oils.   They do not decaffeinate any of their teas since that would require the use of chemicals.   The plantation does not even use pesticides to protect the plants from all the bugs.


This proud Green plantation hosts special events, tours and totes a history for America to be proud of.   Their tea is widely enjoyed but both new sippers and purists and their plantation is a beauty to behold.   See about getting a visit in when you are in the area!   You will not be disappointed.

Tea Ceremony: Destination China

History of the Chinese Tea Ceremony:

In China, tea was also used initially for medicinal purposes, much like the tea in Japan.   This was strictly within the confines of the temples that dotted the landscape.   Soon, monks began to evolve their tea usage and use it to teach a respect for nature, humility and an overall sense of peace and calmness.   Monks tried to display these philosophical ideas through their tea ceremonies, mixing Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism in their tea ceremonies.   Soon, like the Japanese, the tea ceremonies evolved into a memorial service for both noblemen and family members.

A Young Girl Conducting A Tea Ceremony

A Young Girl Conducting A Tea Ceremony

The Japanese came to China and learned more about the Chinese tea ceremony, breaking off and forming their own tea ceremony.   Originally, the ceremony was called cha dao, or the way of tea.   However, in the 1970s, the Chinese felt a need to differentiate their tea ceremony from the Japanese and re-named their process to cha yi, or the art of tea.

The Chinese tea ceremony has six major parts to it in order to summarize the technical aspects and the skills needed for success.   They are:

–          Attitude.   The host should reflect a happy, calm, relaxed and confident demeanor.

–          Tea selection.   Tea not only needs to taste good; it needs to have a wonderful name and a beautiful background story.

–          Water selection.   Tea is only as good as the water it is put in.   The water should be pure, light and clean.

–          Teaware selection.   Guests should be able to admire and appreciate the beauty of the items.

–          Ambiance.   The ceremony should be in a clean, quiet room that is enhanced with touches of artwork.

–          Technique.   This not only means the manner in which the tea is brewed.   It involves the full body – hand movement, facial expression, grace and demeanor.

Conducting a Chinese Tea Ceremony:

Chinese tea ceremonies are not as ritualistic as Japanese tea ceremonies, but do deserve the same attention and respect as one might offer any culture.   You will need:

A tea-pot

A tea strainer

A kettle

A tea pitcher

A brewing tray

A deep pot or bowl, meant to wash the tea-pot, tea cups and to discard used tea

A tea towel

Water (if possible, get high-quality water)

Loose tea leaves (traditionally, it is oolong, though any tea will suffice)

A tea pick to unclog the tea-pot

A tea leaf holder


Scent cups (a cup with a narrow neck so that one can appreciate the aroma of the tea)

Tea cups (handless cups for drinking the tea)


–          Cure the tea cups in the same way that you did for the Japanese tea ceremony.   However, rather than use tea to soak the tea items, hot water will do.   Use the tongs to take the cups and pot out of the hot water, so as not to burn yourself!

–          Pour a cup of tea and pass it around to your guests so that they can smell the tea, appreciate the aroma, the look and the quality.

–          Make a full pot of tea for your guests now.   Take the tea leaves out of the tea leaf holder and pour the tea leaves into the tea-pot.   Place the tea-pot into the bowl and pour the water from the kettle into the tea-pot from shoulder height.   The tea-pot should overflow.

–          Scoop away any bubbles and tea leaves and put the lid on the tea-pot.   Pour hot water on the pot so that the internal and external temperatures are the same.

–          Pour all the tea into the tea pitcher and fill the tea scent cups.   Place the tea cups upside down on the scent cups.   This act is said to bring prosperity and happiness.

–          This part might take practice for some.   Take the tea cups and flip them so the tea goes from the scent cups into the tea cups.   Do not drink the tea just yet.   Pour this tea into the bowl.

–          Using the same tea leaves that have been in the tea-pot, pour heated water into the tea-pot.   This time, pour the water just above the tea pot.   This is so you do not remove the flavor from the tea leaves too quickly.   Place the lid on the tea pot.

–          Pour the brewed tea into the pitcher.   Pour the tea into the tea scent cups.   Transfer this tea into the tea cups.   You will use this tea for drinking.

–          As a guest, it is proper to thank the person who refills your tea-cup by tapping your pointer and middle finger against your tea-cup.   This is appropriate for more casual settings.

–          The tea drinker cradles the tea-cup in both hands and they savor the aroma before drinking.   The tea should be drunk in three sips total.   The first sip should be small.   The second sip is the biggest sip that the drinker should take.   Finally, the third sip is to empty the cup and savor the aftertaste.

–          After the tea has been finished, use the tongs to empty out the tea leaves from the tea pot.   Discard used tea leaves in the bowl.

–          Finally, the used tea leaves are shown to the guests so that the quality can be appreciated.   The tea ceremony is ended.

Photo Credit:

China Connections Tour.   2012.   Chinese_Tea_10.jpg, 10 Jan 2012.   JPEG.

Source Credit:

Mack, Lauren.   “Brew Perfect Chinese Tea with Gōngfū Chá, a Traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony.”   About.com, 2012.   Web.   10 Jan 2012.

Seven Cups: Fine Chinese Teas.   “Chinese Tea Ceremony History.”   Sevencupsoftea.com, 2001.   Web.   11 Jan 2012.

An Introduction to Ornate, Original, Obscure Oolong Tea

Oolong tea, also known as wu long tea (translated to mean “black Dragon”), is mostly recognized as the tea served in many Chinese restaurants.

It is unknown exactly when oolong tea was created, though historical records do indicate that it was first grown in the Fujian Province of Taiwan, where it is still grown today.   This region is known to be sub-tropical, warm and humid, which is perfect for oolong!

Not even the name has an exact root.   It is possible that is named after a place name or a variety of tea plant, or maybe the lucky symbolism of a dragon.

What is certain, on the other hand, is the production of the tea.   Oolong tea is made from the same type of leaf as black and green teas.   However, they are fermented for different amounts of time.   They must be processed immediately upon being picked.   First, they are withered in the direct sunlight and then shaken to lightly bruise the edges of the leaves.   Next, they are air-dried in the shade until the leaves turn a light yellow.   This process is repeated several times.

A Nice, Smooth Taste of Oolong Tea Can Sometimes Make a Day That Much Brighter

A Nice, Smooth Taste of Oolong Tea Can Sometimes Make a Day That Much Brighter

Oxidizing takes different lengths of time depending on the type of oolong.   Leaves are pan fried at a high temperature in order to prevent further oxidation.   They now have less moisture and thus a longer shelf life than green teas.   Finally, they are graded, packaged and sold to our favorite stores.

Oolong tea can have 15-50 mg of caffeine content in it, so it has 18.75% – 62.5% the amount of caffeine of a cup of coffee.   In other words, if you are sensitive to caffeine, avoid this tea.   A water temperature of 150-160 degrees is ideal.   Green oolong teas should only be brewed for 2-3 minutes, while dark oolong teas should be brewed for a bit longer.   3-5 minutes usually is enough to do the trick.   If you brew the tea for longer, you will increase the caffeine content of the tea, so be careful of this.

If you have had tea in a Chinese food restaurant, you know what this tea tastes like.   If not, it has a sort of bitter taste to it with sweet undertones.   It can be appealing to some and is a popular tea, but first timers might be best with a bit of honey or sugar.

Though not too much is certain about oolong tea, it is certain that it is one amazing tea!

Photo Credit:

Cultural China.   2010.   Kaleidoscope -> Food Culture: c3ebcb36500a9234302b6ba4967b4051.jpeg, 6 Dec 2011.   JPEG.

Source Credit:

Chinaculture.org.   “Fujian.”   Chinaculture.com, 2003.   Web.   6 Dec 2011.

For Meaningful Life Tea.   “Oolong Tea.”   For Meaningful Life Tea, 2001.   Web.   6 Dec 2011.

The Fragrant Leaf.   “Basic Tea Brewing and Storage.”   The Fragrant Leaf, 2011.   Web.   7 Dec 2011.

The Fragrant Leaf.   “Oolong Tea Production.”   The Fragrant Leaf, 2011.   Web.   7 Dec 2011.

The Oolong Tea.   “About Teas.”   The Oolong Tea.   Web.   6 Dec 2011. 

Paajanen, Sean.   “Tea Brewing Temperature Guide.”   About.com, 2011.   Web.   7 Dec 2011.

The Tea Site.   “Caffeine in Coffee vs Tea: Caffeine Content in Tea: Caffeine in Green Tea: Caffeine in White Tea.”   Dill-ee LLC and The Tea Site, 2009.   Web.   7 Dec 2011.

Teavana.   “Types of Tea – Green, Black, White, Oolong and Herbal Teas.”   Teavana, 2011.   Web.   6 Dec 2011.