When we think of great tea-producing nations, a few names spring to mind. Among them are China and India, the world’s top tea-producing countries, and Japan. While there are other countries that grow tea in more modest quantities, one name that rarely comes to mind when it comes to growing tea is that of the United States.
It’s likely that the U.S. will never be a serious contender in this arena, but there are a number of interesting experiments with tea growing going on around this great nation of ours.
The most notable of these is in South Carolina, whose tea-friendly climate has allowed for small-scale production for several hundred years. These days, tea is grown on Wadmalaw Island in South Carolina – at the Charleston Tea Plantation, an ongoing concern that was bought out several years ago by Bigelow Tea.
Tea grown at the Plantation is blended with other black teas and marketed as American Classic Tea. The Plantation also produces small quantities of a single-estate, first flush tea.
At the other end of the United States, in Hawaii – a country better known from producing a high grade of premium coffee – experiments with tea have been going on for about a decade. For more information about these efforts, a good starting point would be the Web presence for the Hawaii Tea Society or this article from the Chicago Sun-Times.
Moving from the middle of the Pacific to the Pacific Northwest, we find a small-scale tea farm operated by Washington’s Sakuma Brothers. Their primary area of expertise is produce, but they have been growing tea for about ten years and currently have about five acres planted.
Last, but not least, is a planned foray into tea production by one of the Bay Area’s better-known tea merchants. Roy Fong, of San Francisco’s Imperial Tea Court, announced earlier this year that he would start a tea farm, also to be located in the Bay Area. It will be a number of years until anyone will be drinking tea grown there, but you can keep up to date with progress at the Imperial Tea Court’s blog.
Don’t forget to check out William’s blog, Tea Guy Speaks!