Our tea farm was featured in the Foley Local magazine with me on the cover.  The article was really good and most complementary but it mostly told the story of how I sell seedlings to other farmers who want to get in the tea business.  It did not tell the story of how I make a high quality selection of teas and how yummy my tea really is.  I do sell thousands of seedlings to others and am well know in the tea industry for doing so.  The article did not say visitors need to make an appointment which has brought a flurry of visitors, at all times of the day who all said “we didn’t know we needed an appointment.”  We have drive-ups every day and I am well prepared to handle it.  It is making me do more than one tour a day which works me a bit harder than I want to work.

I am now lining up customers who want to buy seedlings this fall.  Two large farming interest have inquired about buying many thousands of plants.  Yep, we have them.  But I also will sell you a few for your yard.  A lady this past week said she wanted only one so she could have a tea tree in her yard.  I told her is was not going to bloom with Lipton teabags hanging all over it.  For those who are knowledgeable and interested, my seedlings are the F1 generation from the original Lipton plants I found in 1979.  One tea horticulturist said he believed I had the only intact cultivar in the USA.  Five universities are growing it, calling it “Fairhope Select.”  I didn’t name it that.   One reports my variety is “out performing” the other varieties in their test.  Yes, you two can have these plants for only the simple, low price of $1.00 each.  You have to come get them and I recommend moving them between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

My family has told me repeatedly to stop selling these high valued plants for only a dollar.  I really do need to charge more, but things are working out just fine.  I like helping folks interested in growing tea.  My family also keeps telling me to raise my prices for tours and how much I charge for teabags and loose leaf.  I resist that too.  I might in the future raise my tour prices from $10 per person to $20 per person just to cut down on the number of tours.  From fall to spring I can do them everyday I will have them.  I like to lounge around on the couch every now and then.

This has been a slow production year.  A late spring freeze burned the tips of our first flush, cool weather stymied the usual spring growth and the tea didn’t really start growing well until it was 95 degrees everyday.  When its hot like that, you have to be real careful, move in slow-motion and pick smaller batches.  I was out picking in those several days it was over 100 degrees.  Its still hot outside and we are picking every other or third day.  Our black tea is very nice, smells wonderful and has a bit of the fruity notes.  We have made many pounds of Oolong also this year.  My goal is 300 pounds of processed tea but I’ve not added up yet to see if I’m close or going to make it.

Come visit our farm.  Call or text 251-209-3089 for an appointment.  Tours are $10 per person, CASH, and bring a bit more to buy some teabags.  Also, a $5 tip would me me real happy! (I’ve never said that).  We only want two or three people at a time.  We do tours at 1:00 most every day.  We are not set up for groups.  Tours last an hour or an hour and a half if you ask questions.  We have dogs and bugs and you could get peacock droppings on the bottom of your shoes (that doesn’t happen often) because this is a farm.  If you want some plants, we will sell you some plants.  Come on down!

Donnie Barrett