Saturday, August 11, 2007

The One and Only

The blogging hiatus is over, as is the extended vacation which was at its root.

But my vacation wasn't all fun and games. Just last week I went on a reconnaissance mission to the Charleston Tea Gardens on Wadmalaw Island SC. It is the only tea plantation in the entirety of North America. Why, you ask? Well, because the entirety of North America is entirely unfit for tea growth, except the "lowcountry" in South Carolina, or so the Bigelow corporation, which owns the entire 300 acre plantation, would have you believe.

I had my doubts.

The plantation is a fun visit. They have a free tour of the factory with video explanations and everything, a cute little gift shop with some surprisingly reasonably-priced merchandise, and "trolley tours" throughout the day for $10 a person which each have different focuses. I wasn't about to sit on a trolley for an hour and a half in a heat wave in the highest humidity area in the country (which is why they can grow tea there...), but I did go on the factory tour, which was interesting and informative.

I'll fill in more details as I upload and edit my pictures from the trip, but overall I'd say it was well worth the time and gas it took to get there.

And as for my doubts? They only had iced tea available to try, and it sucked my mouth dry from the tannins, but the flavor was unobtrusive. Their "First Flush" was the only one sold from there that wasn't a blend, and it smelled good, if a little earthy and stiff, but they won't sell the tea itself unless you pay $25 total for its packaging, which leaves you paying $16.50 per ounce! I'm still enjoying my dollar an ounce teas from Angelina's, so I didn't go for it. Since they have to pay American wages, it makes sense that it would cost a bit more, but I'm sure a large percentage is going to "The Man" (i.e., R.C. Bigelow, Inc.) and for tea that was grown outside of ideal conditions ... I'm not going to shell out those bucks, but to each his own.


joan said...

It is a pretty spot though isn't it? I went when it was cooler so did do the trolley tour through the fields.

Samantha said...

Oh, definitely. It's gorgeous, and I'm glad it's around, but mostly for its educational benefit, because it'll be awhile before I can travel to India or Asia.