Veteran’s Day Celebrated With Visit To Charleston Tea Plantation and Patriot Point

11/11/14 Tuesday in Yemassee, SC (The Oaks at Point South-TT/MA)

On our way around 8:30 and got to the Charleston Tea Plantation (on Wadamalaw Island,SC) by 10, just in time for signing up for the 10:30 bus tour ($10/person) and watching their film/factory.

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A few facts: this is the ONLY tea plantation in the US. Most are in Africa! This is the only tea grown on flat ground (possible because of the sandy soil and nearby ditches that drain the excess rain water). Tea needs lots of heat, humidity and moisture but the bushes’ feet can’t be wet. Thus they are generally grown on hills/mountains. Charleston fit the bill. Plus a gentleman brought cuttings from Chinese tea bushes here in the 18th century. His plantation was abandoned in time, so when Lipton, which was searching for a place to grow tea here in the US, found his plants, they bought that land and began creating this plantation. In time Mr. Hall bought these (he’s a tea taster trained for 4 years in London) and is still in charge of the plants. He gained a partner (Bigelow Tea) a while back (2003?) and they handle the other operations.

This cool tea leaf picking machine is completely unique to here, because this is the only place it’s grown on flat land. At all other tea plantations the leaves are hand picked because of the steep slopes they are planted on. Only the top new growth leaves are picked because those growing on the sides have more stems to deal with.

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A tea leaf is 80% moisture, so they start the process with gently drying the leaves a little (withering) by pushing them over a roller, very slowly.

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Next they crush the leaves to release more cells to oxidation, through the Rotovane.

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The Green tea process stops here, creating the lightest color and flavor, the least oxidation. For Oolong tea, they take 15 minutes of oxidation time to give more color, flavor.

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Black tea requires 45 minutes of oxidation time for its color, flavor and highest caffeine content. Note: these 3 treatments/names apply to all the kinds of tea. Then they sieve out the woody bits. These they put back on the land for compost.

Next our bus tour. We got a ride on an antique from Lexington, KY, where apparently they name everything after famous horses, especially Man O’War.

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Here you see the tea bushes. They take several years to reach maturity, then 4 more years before they are ready for leaf picking. Note the ditch in front. Can you also see that some of the bushes haven’t yet filled out completely? When the weather cools the plant goes dormant. Your sign of this is the appearance of their lovely flower. By the way, tea plants don’t need any herbicides or insecticides. Even the deer don’t like them!! Thus these haven’t been given any of those poisons, only granules of fertilizer dropped on their “table top.”

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In the greenhouse they support the new cuttings, to be planted in new areas of land. Note the misting sprinklers -it’s amazing how precise they have everything, like the timing of moisture, cooling/heating tubes under the plants, fans that even draw cool water from the swamp cooler wall when it gets really hot.

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After tasting lots of their tea and Marcia buying some, we were ready for lunch. We found a Diners, Dives and Drive Inns recommended place, The Early Bird Diner. Yum!! I had a F G T sandwich (fried green tomatoes with bacon and lettuce). Boy were those tomatoes hot and sweet! John enjoyed a meatloaf sandwich, Marcia and Greg both had the featured item Fried Chicken and Waffles. 2Nd lunch together and once again were we ever full!

For Less Caffeine in your tea:

Studies show that heat releases caffeine. Therefore you may enjoy your tea with naturally reduced caffeine by using the following methods:

ICED TEA (by the way 80% of the tea Americans drink is iced-made popular at a World’s Fair)

Pour cold water over the tea bags. DO NOT BOIL WATER. And let it sit overnight on your counter. In the morning, remove bags, add sweetener if you like, then ice and drink.

HOT TEA Pour boiling water over your tea and let it sit for 60 seconds. POUR OUT THAT FIRST CUP. Then pour boiling water over your tea again and enjoy!

It took awhile to get to Patriot Point (Mt. Pleasant,SC), north of Charleston. We got to cross the Ravenel bridge, which is beautiful.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t doing my duty as John’s navigator and just as he started to enter the lane to his right (on this bridge) another car was entering from its left.  Marcia alerted John immediately, thank heavens.  I was too busy taking multiple photos of the bridge….  😦

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Wow, there are 5 tours on the Flight Carrier USS Yorktown (CV-10), so I’ll just share some images. Naturally this was not free. $17/senior (62+) and John got in free because he had served in the military and it was Veteran’s Day. Nice timing. Thanks to Marcia who planned this trip for today.

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Marcia took a ride on a flight simulator. Whee!! And John took a non moving ride on an airplane.

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On the flight deck

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Next the USS Laffey (DD-724), a Destroyer that was attacked by 22 Japanese aircraft (bombers and kamakazee) and survived, thanks to their gunners (and a captain that wouldn’t quit until they couldn’t shoot) as well as help from our planes, including Vought F4U Corsairs.

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Then we walked onto a Submarine (the USS Clamagore (SS-343)). Each of these ships smaller than the prior one.

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Marcia and I were getting worn out by now, but the guys were still raring to go so we walked over to the Vietnam Experience.

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The sun was setting so we finally headed home, naturally hitting the commuter traffic so it was after 7 pm when we got home. So glad we’d planned a simple supper of chili and popcorn. Easy and warm. So ready for bed tonight!

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About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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