When it comes to growing tea the United States tends to be overshadowed by the world’s other tea producers. That’s not surprising. Tea has been grown here for centuries but never in sufficient quantities to be much more than a curiosity. China, India, and Africa account for much of the world’s tea production, with a number of other countries also growing significant but more modest amounts.
But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t native growers here willing to take a crack at producing some all-American tea. Homegrown producers have been featured quite a few times in these pages, including this recent article about a newly formed group called The United States League of Tea Growers (USLTG) and this article titled U.S. Grown Teas.
One recent effort along these lines that’s worth mentioning is the Tea Across America initiative, which has set the rather ambitious goal of seeing that every one of these United States is growing a tea plant. It’s a lofty goal, especially when one tries to imagine tea growing in the chilly climes of North Dakota, Minnesota, or Alaska, just to name a few.
On the other hand, as already noted, there are a number of states who were on board with homegrown tea long before there was an initiative like this one. The best known of these is South Carolina, home to tea growing for centuries and currently home base for the Charleston Tea Plantation. The next most significant state is arguably Hawaii, where tea growing is becoming more popular, and then California and Washington.
More recently, if I’ve got my chronology right, southern states like Mississippi and Alabama have come on board and the Tea Across America site notes that tea growing is also getting underway in New York and North Carolina and may soon be coming to five other states as well. And it’s likely that there are at least a few states I’ve missed.
But if you’ve done the math you’ll know that there are quite a few states still unaccounted for. Which is where well-meaning volunteers with a green thumb can get involved. As the site notes, organizers of the campaign are “currently looking for tea people in non-tea growing states to volunteer to receive a plant and take care of it.” If you’re the first volunteer to sign up from your state, they’ll send you a tea plant and the rest is up to you. Read all about it here.
See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.
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