Yes, we have pruned off the tea rows in anticipation of the first flush which now is happening around the middle of March. The first growths came last year when the air temperature was not warm and for the first time I had to use artificial heat to help process tea. The first sprouts seem to come earlier each year with global warming at our doorstep. I have even planted long leaf pine seedlings in my tea rows for a bit of shade in years to come, if needed.
I have not been able to post on this web site in a couple months as my computer melted down. I have received emails from several folks asking why was I not posting any news. I have had my computer rebuilt and now it works very well. So, I’m back!
A couple weeks ago a TV news reporter needed a quick story and came here in a freezing 30 mph north wind to do a story on how tea does freeze in the cold weather. I looked cold in the short news story and my mouth could hardly work. It was later put on facebook and shared over 200 times. The next day, this web site had 4,800 hits and it stayed high like that for several days. The reporter did not mention that reservations were needed so we have had one drive up after another for the past two weeks. Cars have pulled up and left because they could not get in the parking lot. If I can accommodate them, I will give them a tour, but the visitors have rather overwhelmed us coming early in the morning until dark. We actually did not need the PR as between Thanksgiving and Christmas we were doing tours every day already. I like to keep my tea business in the fun category but we are being pushed to work a little harder than needed.
Also note that if you are contemplating a tea farm tour, if you can and most out of town tourist can’t, wait until we start picking and processing tea this spring. It makes for a more interesting tour to see tea at different stages of production. Also seeing the new growth on the bushes helps understand how it all works. And remember, call ahead so I will have a pot of tea ready and bring cash to purchase tea, as we do not accept plastic.
I was certainly saddened when I heard the news that Bill Hall, founder of the Charleston Tea Plantation has passed away. He was a super nice guy whom I spoke to often. We traded lots of jokes about his farm producing the “only” tea grown in America. Once in a publication he said I “stole” my original plants, which is not at all true and later he apologized. We shared a common interest and had long conversations about how to grow and make tea. He was real friend that I will miss.
My tea plant sales were very good this year. We sold thousands of plants that have gone all across the USA. I likely needed to have kept records of where they all went but after selling them for over twenty years, I know my Camellia sinensis fairhope plants are found all over the country. I encourage folks to transplant them in the fall, but I still am selling them almost every day here. I show them how to cover them using bamboo poles and shade cloth like I saw the Chinese doing back in the early 1980’s.
Come see us sometime!