A cup of tea makes everything better - Garfield and Tango Travel the Long and Winding Road - CycleBlaze

April 28, 2022

A cup of tea makes everything better

Charleston fun day

We took an off day today to do some fun things along with a grocery run. 

After breakfast, we went over to Walmart. Then after lunch we spent the afternoon doing more exploration of these islands around us. 

First on the agenda was a visit to the Charleston Tea Plantation. It's the only place in the US where tea is grown and is located on Wadmalaw Island which wasn't too far away from us. 

It was a really interesting visit. We'd hoped to get a trolley tour of the farm, but would have had to wait too long for the next one so we settled for a self-guided tour of their factory. 

We learned that the farm is about 127 acres with hundreds of thousands of tea  bushes. It used to be a potato farm which was purchased in 1963 where tea plants from a defunct tea plantation in Summerville, SC were transplanted here. The next 20 plus years it served as an experimental farm with research being done on the plants.

In 1989, the plantation was purchased by a new owner - William Barclay Hall who founded the current operation. In 2003, a partnership was formed with the Bigelow Tea Company who operate it today. 

In 2020, the negative term 'plantation' was changed to 'farm'. Not only is the tea grown here, but it also goes through processing on site. Unfortunately, no leaves were actually going through the equipment today but the videos we watched were quite informative.

After our tour, we stopped in the gift shop where we could taste all of their varieties of tea - both cold and hot. I drink tea everyday and really liked their peach, raspberry and cinnamon/spice teas so we picked those up to take home.

Our next stop was at Deep Water Vineyard for some wine tasting which was located nearby. I knew they made wine from Scuppernong muscadine grapes so had high hopes. But we didn't end up buying anything or even do a tasting. 

Most of their wines were blended with California grapes and despite saying they had a couple 'sweet' types, they were quite dry. Plus their bottles were expensive compared to the wines we bought in Georgia. So disappointed, we continued to our last stop - the Angel Oak Tree which is the largest live oak east of the Mississippi.

This tree was incredible!! It is estimated to be 4oo-500 years old and is 65 ft. tall with a circumference of 25 ft. The massive branches stretched out for many feet and where the lower ones touched the ground, were supported by posts. What I also found interesting was that there was no Spanish moss on the tree? Maybe so the moss doesn't shade the leaves which can reduce photosynthesis or weigh down the branches causing small ones to break?

After walking around for awhile, we headed back to the campground in heavy rush hour traffic. Don had considered biking out to John's and Wadmalaw Islands as there were a number of farm roads, but most of the roads getting there had busy traffic even during the mid-day, along with no shoulders. Nope, guess we'll go elsewhere.

The rest of the evening was quiet as we both enjoyed drinking glasses of our sweet Georgia wine and listened to a neighbor playing her fiddle. 

We couldn't believe this Painted Bunting that came to our feeder!
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So colorful!
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Scott AndersonSo amazing. I’ve never seen one of these.
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3 weeks ago
Today we visited the Charleston Tea Garden (Plantation).
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There were hundreds of thousands of tea plants on their farm, all neatly trimmed in these rows.
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As the new growth appears at the top of the bushes, it's cut off to be processed into tea.
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I didn't kiss Waddy.
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And I didn't sit on his knee!
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This is the tea production area. Unfortunately they weren't harvesting today so not much was happening. But essentially the tea leaves go through 6 steps - from removing the moisture to drying to removing the stems to final bagging.
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This is the machine that trims the growth off of the tea bushes.
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The Angel Oak was an incredible tree!
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Scott AndersonThat really is incredible. The largest live oak I’ve ever seen.
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3 weeks ago
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