We have had this web site for years and I can not believe how much traffic we have had – thousands of readers.  I have included all sorts of tea growing advice and tea making information, but the most response ever has been to these few old pictures I have posted.  I appreciate the jokes, insults and chatter from our regular tea customers and friends.  I see the emails and texts and respond to most.

This included photo will certainly get a response.  The lovely, young bathing beauty is me, in my parents yard about 1985, some 43 years ago.  I had hair and it was black and I still wish I had some of that.  The foreground can be dismissed but what you can see in the background is two of the original tea plants I recovered from the 1970’s Lipton tea experiment or demonstration.   By this time I had made several hundred cuttings off of these as they grew and rooted them in wooden boxes with vermiculite.  Off to the left, rows of tea bushes fifty feet long had grown about waists high.  This was about the time I first went to China to learn how to make tea.  This was about five or six years before I bought the farm that I now call the Fairhope Tea Plantation.

We are having a different type of tea production year this year.  It has been cool in the mornings, 60 degrees instead of 80 degrees and the new tea growth is growing very slowly.  Its growing erratically and uneven, really cutting down on our production.  Lots of my local farmer friends are saying the same thing.  Blueberries are small, bees not making much honey and one said “even the weeds aren’t growing.”  We have made about 60 pounds of green and black so far and by this time every year we are over 100 pounds.  I have enough to sell to our constant stream of customers but growth needs to kick in so we will have enough for the year.  I am sure it will and soon we will be in “high cotton” and will have forgotten the luxury of not having to pick and make tea every day.  It has given me a chance to clean up the tea rows of weeds and little trees.

I have written a report on my three years experimenting with training tea rows to get flatter and wider.  The idea is to produce a wider “picking table” on the rows.  It involved pruning and picking techniques and I put a lot of thought into it.  Email a request to me and I will send you a copy.

We are still doing tea farm tours most every day.  We have drive up and repeat customers almost every day.  They will say “Oh, we need to make an appointment?” and “do you accept credit cards as we don’t have any cash?”   You do not need an appointment just to buy tea, but you do for a tea farm tour.    We do these any day at 1:00 PM, one tour a day  These coast $10 per person, cash, and you will want to bring a little more to buy some tea.  We sell individual cup size tea bags, green and black for $10, you get 32 teabags.  We sell loose leaf bags, 6-8 ounces, green and black for $15.  I will take up to six people per tour but I like three or less so we can ride around the tea on the golf cart, its a better tour.

Also, we have peacocks, dogs and bugs of all types.  Our annual crop of biting flies are slowing down but they are still here.  It also is getting HOT!  We are out on my patio and not in an air conditioned area.  Its a farm visit and not a tea party social.  Also, small children do not enjoy the farm visits.  They care little about tea, get real fussy real fast, and the parents try to entertain them and miss out on the information presented.  I was a school teacher for young children so I would never say no children but be reminded, young children do not enjoy the tea tours and tend to stop the parents from doing so.

That will do it for the day.  Come see us!

Donnie Barrett