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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the relationship between the Charleston Tea Plantation, American Classic Tea and Bigelow Tea?

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 Tea

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 Royalty.

How would you describe the taste of First Flush Tea

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 flavor.   

What is the First Flush FesTEAval?

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 Teas packaged?

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, Connecticut.

How many cups of tea can be made from a tin of any of your American Classic Teas?

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 Pinehurst. 

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 swing.

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' dormant season.

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 teas?

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 Classic Tea...

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 Tea

How much caffeine would you say your American Classic Teas have in it?

A cup of any of our American Classic Teas usually contains half the amount of caffeine that an average cup of coffee does.

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 Hospital)
  • -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. 1.  Place 9 American Classic Tea pyramid bags in a heat safe containiner
  2. 2.  Bring fresh, cold tap water to a roilling boil
  3. 3.  As soon as the water reaches a rolling boil, pour directly over the tea bags
  4. 4.  Steep the tea bags for 6 minutes
  5. 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 brewed tea.

How long will a gallon of your iced tea stay fresh?

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 only tea grown in America is sold in a shop near you!

What is the  importance of your product being Certified South Carolina Grown?

Certified South Carolina Grown ThumbnailThe 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 website?  

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,  



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