We are having a huge bumper crop of tea this year.  Last year I went for long periods with nothing to pick but this year it is growing faster than I can pick it.  I shoot for 300 pounds a year and did not make that last year.  We almost sold out by spring, before the first flush.  With so many customers buying my tea by the pound, I’m going to have to make more than 300 pounds.  With the vigorous growth that we are experiencing, I will be able to do that.  We have made 160 pounds already and work on tea every day.

Yesterday four ladies came for a tea tour.  They were wearing day dresses, hats and big jewelry.  When they saw this was a class on tea making and not a high tea social, they drove off leaving me standing there with cups and a hot kettle of tea.  I ran the Fairhope Museum for 22 years and had lots of dealing with John Q Public but I found this insulting.  This is not a social where you sip tea, munch scones and chat with your friends.  Its is a class where I tell you the biochemical differences of green vs black tea, then we ride out into the fields on a golf cart to see how tea is grown, maintained and plucked.

While I am gripping about Johnny Q., three times last week my guests coming for a tour called me at the last minute saying “oh, our plans have changed,” “we forgot,” “we are on our way to Biloxi.”  I can certainly understand vacation time and planning something different but this is a bit inconsiderate of us on the tea farm.  First, if I had some forewarning I could sell the time slot to another caller.  I also pace my mornings for a 1:00 tour and clean up the patio, make tea, set out tray and cups and gift shop and give my big dog his calm down pills.  I have to be ready 30 min out because 1:00 to some folks means 12:30 – 1:30.  So I have to do lots of preparation for a visit.  Of course the biggest burn is when they don’t call at all.  Its just the business we are in.

Again, this is a farm tour.  We only do them at 1:00 everyday because we have a farm to run and tea to pick and process.  I like only three people at a time and will not do groups or bus tours.  We have all the biting bugs that most people find in their yards and we saw a snake a few days ago and the guests freaked out!  It takes and hour and a half for a tour and if you tell me how you are interested in tea, I will style the tour for your interest.  Children are not particularly interested in tea and sometimes it is hard for guests to entertain them and hear anything  else.  Tours cost $20 per person in cash.  You will want to bring a little more to buy some loose leaf or teabag tea, green or black.  I will give you a small tea plant if you want it.

Come see us.  Folks are very complementary of our tours!

Donnie Barrett