American Classic Tea

Charleston is a city I’ve always wanted to visit – for its’ rich American history, Gone with the Wind estates and architecture, its’ military past and influence, the magnificent gardens, and the southern food. I’m not kidding. The she-crab soup alone was worth the trip.

After the successful Netflix hit, Outer Banks, which filmed a lot of its scenes in Charleston, it was easy to get my kids onboard with the idea too.

What I didn’t know before researching my trip was that although hundreds of tea plantations exist throughout the world, (most in Asia, Africa and South America) there is only one located in all of North America and you guessed it, it’s in Charleston, South Carolina.

Tea bushes were imported to America from China as early as the 1700s, but according to the Charleston Tea Garden‘s website, it wasn’t until 1888, when Dr. Charles Shepard founded the Pinehurst Tea Plantation in Summerville, South Carolina did American grown tea become a reality.  In Summerville, Dr. Shepard created award winning teas until his death in 1915.  After his passing, the Pinehurst Tea Plantation closed and Dr. Shepard’s tea plants grew wild for the next forty five years.

Had Dr. Shepard experienced earlier success, American history, as it was impacted by the events of the Boston Tea Party in 1773, may have taken a different trajectory.

The history of the Charleston Tea Garden involved the vision, commitment, and investment (as well as the transplanting of a lot of tea bushes) of William Barclay Hall and the Bigelow Tea Company to produce “American Classic” tea, the first tea ever to be made with 100% tea grown in America. Tea lovers in the Carolinas have been enjoying the brew for nearly 30 years and Antsy Nancy will be pouring tea from the Charleston Tea Garden at our upcoming, How to host an American Girl Holiday Tea Party.

My sisters and I take a holiday shopping trip every December and during our New York trip five years ago, we spied a group of moms and their daughters – all holding American Girl Dolls – exiting the hotel lobby dressed in holiday attire. They had just come from an American Girl Christmas tea party and clearly had a wonderful time. That memory inspired our December parent and child class, where we will share the skills needed to host your own holiday tea party. We will provide invitation suggestions, learn how to properly brew and serve tea, test a tea party menu (recipes from a fabulous book I bought in the Charleston Tea Garden gift shop, Teatime Parties), proper table setting, and napkin folding demonstrations. We will also focus on etiquette and table manners for a tea party.

Cocoa will be served for non tea drinkers and before you ask … of course, boys are welcome! If your child doesn’t have an American Girl doll, a favorite Teddy or other doll will serve nicely. As a special treat, we will frost and decorate holiday sugar cookies and each child will bring home a platter of their treats.

Register fast, because these classes are going to fill up quickly!

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