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American Classic Tea: Deep in the Heart of Tea Country

by Sally Bernstein

Tea is the most-consumed beverage in the world after water; yet most of the tea consumed in America is still imported from other countries.

American Classic Tea, the only tea grown in America, is produced 20 miles south of Charleston, South Carolina, deep in the South Carolina Lowcountry, on the subtropical sea island of Wadmalaw. Just minutes from the majestic homes along the Battery and other sights of Charleston, a unique heritage is maintained that began in 1799 when a French botanist brought the first tea plants to America.

American Classic Tea has been the official White House tea since 1987 and is officially designated as the Hospitality Beverage of South Carolina, in recognition of the proprietors unique and historical endeavor.

American Classic Tea "America's Tea" is available for your enjoyment. Bigelow Tea is proud to be the owner of the tea farm on Wadmalaw Island in South Carolina. Previously known as Charleston Tea Plantation, the tea plants (camellia sinesis) are yielding quality tea leaves that are being processed to perfection right at Charleston Tea Gardens. They are pleased to have partnered with William (Bill) Hall-a world renowned tea taster and tea maker-who is overseeing the daily operations at the Gardens, including the harvesting and processing of each and every pound of tea from the farm.

The return of American Classic Tea continues the rich tradition of satisfying tea lovers' needs-iced or hot-with a fresh, smooth tasting blend of tea containing the best tea from America's only tea garden. Due to a limited yield this past season American Classic Tea has been reintroduced only in the 24 tea bag package. You can enjoy the contemporary Southern favorite by ordering American Classic Tea directly on-line or by calling the Gardens' 800 order line (1-800-443-5987). Plans are in the works to reintroduce a larger package size for everyone wanting to use the fresh, distinctive taste of American Classic Tea all year round to quench your iced tea thirst.

In the fields at Charleston Tea Gardens we have already prepared the ground-clearing, leveling, irrigation-for more tea plants that will increase the total acreage of plants by 66%. In addition, following an assessment of the current factory, Bill Hall has traveled to the tea producing regions of South America this winter to acquire modern factory equipment that will greatly increase the efficiencies of the manufacturing process.

What the future holds-An extensive review of the farm's operation has helped us plan for a long, healthy and successful return of American Classic Tea at Charleston Tea Gardens. Irrigation systems in the fields have already been overhauled and expanded. Virtually all of the farm field equipment has been rebuilt or replaced. Following the growing season plans are underway to update the factory in the fall of 2004. With increased tea leaf growth in the fields and better efficiencies in the factory the future looks bright for American Classic Tea and the Charleston Tea Gardens. An expanded product line is in the works for American Classic Tea-including loose teas and product to be sold through retail grocery stores.

We are honored that American Classic Tea and Charleston Tea Gardens are part of the rich tradition and history of Charleston, South Carolina. In keeping with past practices, we will open Charleston Tea Gardens for you to visit and experience first hand not only the growing and processing of the world's second most consumed beverage (behind only water!) but also the unique lands of the Low Country including a stroll under our Oaks. Be sure you enjoy an adventurous and educational Trolley Tour that explores the scenic grounds that produce American Classic Tea.

American Classic Tea
6617 Maybank Highway
Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina
(843) 559--0383


Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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