In this post we share photos from our time at Charleston Tea Garden, the only tea factory in the United States that fully produces and distributes tea. While it is a trek from downtown Charleston, this is a unique opportunity to see firsthand what 100% tea grown in America looks and tastes like.
A brief history of the Charleston Tea Plantation
Tea arrived to the United States in the late 1700s but it was not until 1888 when the American Dr. Charles Shepard began to cultivate the leaves in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. He successfully farmed the tea leaves until his death in 1915, when the knowledge he gained from his years of experience died with him.
It was not until 1963 that tea leaves from Dr. Shepard’s farm were brought to a 127-acre sight (today known as the Charleston Tea Farm, but then a potato farm) where growers began to experiment with the the tea leaves.
In 1987 William Barclay Hall purchased the land, where he used three-generations of tea taster family experience to convert the research-and-development farm to a commercial operation. In 2003 Hall partnered with the Bigelow Tea Company who later went on to purchase the property and continue the legacy of American Classic Tea.
Note that this farm has never used slave labor despite its previous name “The Charleston Tea Plantation”.
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- Located on Wadmalaw Island in the Lowcountry of South Carolina
- We recommend a private car to get here. Those who attempt to take Uber, Lift or taxi may be successful in getting to the farm but have difficulty in securing a ride back to downtown Charleston or the airport. This is a well known issue and many travelers have had their plans change by not securing a ride to/from the farm ahead of the trip.
Take the Ashley River Bridge (US17), stay left to Folly Rd. (SC171), turn right onto Maybank Hwy. (SC700) for 18 miles, look for entrance sign on the left.
From Charleston Airport and I-26:
Take I-526 West, take a right onto Savannah Hwy. (US17) for 4.8 miles, turn left onto Main Rd., follow Main Rd. to Maybank Hwy. (SC700), turn right onto Maybank Hwy. for 10 miles, look for entrance sign on the left.
From Points South of Charleston:
From Savannah Hwy. (US17), turn right onto Main Rd., follow Main Rd. to Maybank Hwy. (SC700), turn right onto Maybank Hwy. for 10 miles, look for entrance sign on the left.
Factory & Giftshop
- Complimentary hot and cold teas
- Purchase trolley tour tickets here
- Entrance for he factory tour
- $15 per person ages 12+ ; $7.50 for children between ages 4-11, and children under 3 and under are free
- 35-40 minutes
- Drive through of tea bushes and visit the greenhouse
- Learn about the farm’s tea origins, the process to harvest tea and what makes this tea special
- Enter from inside the gift shop
- 12 minutes from start-to-finish, runs every 15 minutes
- View a tea production building with a glassed in, air conditioned gallery that runs down virtually the entire length of the facility
- Learn all about how tea is made
- Learn the difference between black, oolong and green tea
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