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February 25, 2015
Just South of the city of Charleston, South Carolina, Wadmalaw Island is home to the Charleston Tea Plantation. The Camelia Sinensis tea plant was brought to the United States in 1799 by the botanist Francois Andre Micheaux. The plant, which is used to make both black and green tea, took to South Carolina’s sub-tropical climate, and especially thrived in Wadmalaw’s sandy soil and 52 inches (852 ml) of rainfall a year.
The 127 acres of the Charleston Tea Plantation once belonged to the Lipton Company and was used as a research facility. In 1987, Mack Flemming and Bill Hall purchased the site. Mack Flemming was a professor of horticulture who invented the “Green Giant” harvesting machine, which is used to this day to efficiently harvest tea. Bill Hall comes from a family of English “tea testers” and still works on the plantation today. The company’s signature “American Classic Tea” is the only tea brand in the world to be made from 100% American tea leaves.