You can not really see very well in the attached photo how I am doing something different this year.  This past winter I was just looking at photos of the tea rows at the Great Mississippi Tea Company and noticed how their bushes were fat and loaffy like tea bushes you would see on Sri Lankan hill sides.  My tea bushes were not shapped like that, then I had a dahha monent.  Even though mine were twice the age of theirs, it dawned on me that they were pruning them that way.  All these years I was simply picking everything off  and thought they would just get larger in time.  I was wrong about that.  In an earlier life, I was a professional bonsai tree maker.  I made truck loads of them so I know how to shape a plant into the shape you want.  So, this year I am leaving the outside branches that I call “phalanges” and only picking down the middle.  It cuts my production down by a third, so I’ll not likely hit my production goal for this year, but it is an investment in the future.

It was only a few weeks ago the Col. Jason McDonald, a very good friend, who founded the Great Mississippi Tea Company addressed this subject in his tell-all fb page.  He said they were sacrificing product to “train” the plants into that shape.  There is a good word, train.  I will have to give him all the credit because it was his photo on his “Let’s Grow Tea” fb page that made me realize I needed to do something different.  Now, the other day he did say he withered green tea…twice! But, we will address that some other time.

We are having a constant train of visitors to the tea farm.  We have had a burst of yellow biting flies this year.  I have been telling guests to wear long pants and socks which makes it ok.  We have had people in beach clothes to run back to the car (the flies can get like buzzing bees) but the fly problem has slowed and they will be gone soon.  We don’t seem to have the pet spiders hanging around the year and practically no mosqutoes so it is safe to come visit the tea farm.

Remember to bring cash to pay the $10 per person fee and a little more so you can buy some tea.  The tours take an hour and if you have three or less in your group we are now starting to ride through the tea bush lined woodsy trail which folks seem to really injoy. Call to make an appointment.  Come see us!

Donnie Barrett