Frequently Asked Questions
What is the relationship between the Charleston Tea
Plantation, American Classic Tea and Bigelow
In 2003, the Bigelow Family purchased the Charleston Tea
Plantation and formed a partnership with former owner William
Barclay Hall. The Bigelow's brought sixty-five years of
experience in the specialty tea business to the Plantation and the
American Classic brand. Since 2003 the Charleston
Tea Plantation has transformed into a true American icon.
American Classic Tea has maintained its faithful fans
since its start in the late 1980's and has continued to prosper as
a result of consumers wanting to experience the own tea grown
and produced in America. Today the Charleston Tea Plantation
offers more than just a cup of fresh tea. Thanks to the
Bigelow Family, the true working tea farm presents a learning
experience unlike any other in the country.
Are any of the Bigelow Teas made with tea from the
Charleston Tea Plantation?
No, Bigelow Teas are not made from any of the green leaf grown
or harvested here at the Charleston Tea Plantation.
American Classic Teas are the only teas made from the
green leaf produced by the Camellia Sinensis plants grown on
the grounds of the Charleston Tea Plantation.
What is First Flush
The name, First Flush, is actually defined as the
escalated growth of new leaves on the tea plants in the spring time
after they awaken from dormancy. Usually this happens in April or
May and creates a unique taste only available once a growing
season! Traditionally, this tea was reserved only for
How would you describe the taste of First Flush
Avid tea drinkers deem a cup of First Flush Tea to be
the absolute purest, freshest, and most amazing cup of tea
available. Since First Flush Tea is
produced from the leaf that is the plants' "first flush" of new
growth for the season, it tends to have a unique and more
defined taste that encompasses a smooth and mellow
What is the First Flush
Dedicated to the commencement of the crop harvest, the First Flush FesTEAval is a
celebration of America's own tea garden and its popular
product line, American Classic Tea. The festival
name, First Flush, is defined as the growth of new leaves on the
tea plants in the spring time after a winter of rest. Their "first
flush" of new growth is harvested to produce what avid tea drinkers
deem to be the most unique, fresh, and amazing cup of tea.
However, the fesival is not just about tea! Locals have
deemed it an "island celebration." Residents from Charleston
and all neighboring towns trek to picturesque Wadmalaw Island to
enjoy music, entertainment, art, and local cuisine. It is
undoubtedly an event for all ages...Fun for the whole family!
Where are your American Classic
American Classic loose tea tins are packaged
on-site in the Factory at the Charleston Tea Plantation.
American Classic pyramid bags are packaged at RC
Bigelow's state-of-the-art packaging facility in Fairfield,
How many cups of tea can be made from a tin of any of
your American Classic
Our tins can make roughly 22-25 cups of tea, depending upon
your preferred strength of taste.
How old is the Charleston Tea Plantation and why do you
consider it to be a part of history?
The Charleston Tea Plantation got its official start in 1987,
but its true history goes way back. In the 1700's the
Camellia Sinensis first arrived in the United States from China.
Several attempts were made in South Carolina over the next 150
years to propagate and produce tea for consumption, but none were
triumphant. Not 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.
For the next 48 years the tea plants grew wild at
In 1963, a 127 acre potato farm located on Wadmalaw Island in
the Lowcountry of South Carolina was purchased and Shepard's tea
plants were transplanted from Pinehurst to the farm. This
farm eventually became known as the Charleston Tea
Plantation. Every Camellia Sinensis plant growing on the
grounds of the Plantation is a direct descendents of Dr. Shepard's
1888 crop, making the Charleston Tea Plantation a living part
of American history!
What is the best time of the year to visit the
Charleston Tea Plantation?
The Charleston Tea Plantation is open year round and there is
always something for you to see and enjoy...
Spring: The harvest season begins in the month of May.
This is commemorated annually by a celebration known as the First Flush FesTEAval.
Summer: The harvesting and production processes are in full
Fall: Harvesting ends around the end of
September/beginning of October. During this time of year the
Camellia Sinensis plants begin to bloom.
Winter: Even though the harvesting season is over you can still
experience the workings of the farm. The plants may be
resting, but the atmosphere is still full of energy!
When do the Camellia Sinensis plants bloom?
The Camellia Sinensis plants can start to bloom as early as
August. However, typically they peak in the month of
September but can sometimes last through late October. This
is usually shortly after the harvest season has come to a
close. Traditionally, the blooms are followed by the plants'
Why don't you manufacture an Oolong Tea?
The popularity of black and green teas have kept us so busy with
production that we have not had the opportunity to re-configure the
Factory for the production of Oolong Tea.
Where are your teas flavored?
Our teas are flavored in the Factory at the Charleston Tea
Plantation. After the tea is completely finished with
production, an all natural essential oil is sprayed on the leaf
which is then placed in a large tumbler. The tea
is tumbled for several hours to ensure the consistency of the
added flavor. It is then stored in an airtight container to
maintain its freshness.
Why don't you manufacture any decaffeinated
The Charleston Tea Plantation takes pride in producing a
product as all natural as its American Classic Teas.
There are absolutely no herbicides, pesticides or insecticides
used to protect the growth of the tea plants. With that
being said and taking into consideration that in order to
decaffeinate any tea requires the use of chemicals, we have
chosen not to produce a decaffeinated tea. However,
studies have shown that heat releases caffeine, so there are ways
to naturally reduce the amount of caffeine in your American
ICED TEA-Pour cold water over your tea bags (DO NOT USE BOILING
WATER) and let it sit overnight at room temperature. In
the morning, remove your tea bags, add a sweetener if desired
and serve over ice.
HOT TEA-Bring your water to a rolling boil and pour it directly
over your tea bag or loose leaf. Do not use much water
because this first brew contains the most caffeine and should be
discarded. Leave this to infuse for 45 - 60 seconds and then gently
pour the tea out, leaving your tea bag or loose leaf
in the cup. Now you are free to use the same tea bag or
loose leaf to make your fresh cup of
naturally decaffeinated American Classic
How much caffeine would you say your
American Classic Teas have in
A cup of any of our American Classic Teas usually
contains half the amount of caffeine that an average cup of coffee
Is a green tea better for you than a black?
Actually both green and black teas are very beneficial as part
of a healthy lifestyle because...
- -Great source of Polyphenols and Antioxidants (study by Tufts
University/National Cancer Institute)
- -Support Cardiovascular Health (study by Bigham's Women's
- -Associated with higher bone density (study in American Journal
of Clinical Nutrition)
- -Promote body fat reduction while increasing energy (University
of Geneva study)
- -NO Carbohydrates
- -NO Calories
Is there a difference in the amount of caffeine in black
and green teas?
Typically, black tea contains slightly more caffeine than green
tea. Although, being a natural occurring part of the plant, the
caffeine levels can vary based on climate and soil content.
What is the easiest way to make a gallon of iced sweet
tea with your teas?
- 1. Place 9 American Classic Tea pyramid
bags in a heat safe containiner
- 2. Bring fresh, cold tap water to a roilling
- 3. As soon as the water reaches a rolling boil, pour
directly over the tea bags
- 4. Steep the tea bags for 6 minutes
- 5. Add water and ice to bring to a gallon
If you do decide to sweeten your tea, we suggest that you create
a liquid solution with your sweetener prior to adding it to your
How long will a gallon of your iced tea stay
We would recommend only keeping a gallon of iced tea for a
maximum of one and a half days.
Do you sell your loose tea leaf to any other companies
to use in the production of their products?
No, American Classic Teas are the only teas made from
the green leaf produced by the Camellia Sinensis plants grown
on the grounds of the Charleston Tea Plantation.
Can I buy American Classic Teas from anyone
else besides the Charleston Tea Plantation?
Currently, stores in 17 different states carry American
Classic Teas and/or Body Products. Check to see if
the own tea grown in America is sold in a shop near you!
What is the importance of your product being
Certified South Carolina Grown?
The Certified South
Carolina program is a new, exciting cooperative effort among
producers, processors, wholesalers, retailers and the South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA)
to brand and promote South Carolina products. The goal is for
consumers to be able to easily identify, find and buy South
Carolina grown products. Purchasing American Classic
Teas not only supports the efforts of the Charleston Tea
Plantation, but also the State of South Carolina!
Who did the wonderful photography for our
All photographed images used on the Charleston Tea Plantation
website, with the exclusion of the Weddings, First Flush Festival
and Plantation News pages, were photographed by Yve Assad
Photography & Graphic Design, http://www.yvephoto.com/.
Are there any tours or transportation to the tea
plantation from Charleston?
Yes, "Lowcountry Loop" offers an "Island Sip and See" Tour on
Tuesdays and Thursdays. This tour departs from the Charleston
Visitor's Center. Call 843-654-5199 to make a reservation for