I realized about a week ago that I believe I only have two or three reviews posted covering teas produced in the United States. All three of those reviews, the Spring White Tea from Bob Jacobson at Hawaii Rainforest Tea, the Sweet Roast Green Tea from Mauna Kea Tea, and the Aged Roasted Black Tea from Onomea Tea are from tea farms in Hawaii. In the past couple of years, most notably the past twelve months, thanks to the work of the United States League of Tea Growers, tea farming in the mainland United States has become an intriguing new horizon in the tea industry.
However, there is one tea plantation in the mainland United States that has enjoyed success for over two decades. That is the Charleston Tea Plantation in Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina. You can read more about the Charleston Tea Plantation by visiting their website here. Perhaps the more well-known side of the Charleston Tea Plantation is their partner company, Bigelow Teas. Bigelow offers bagged teas, while the Charleston Tea Plantation offers loose leaf teas under the American Classic Tea label. The photo below shows the three American Classic Tea tins that I received.
This review will focus on the Charleston Breakfast black tea from Charleston Tea Plantation. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves had a uniform dark brown-black color with few light brown stems. The leaves are cut to a degree that I would compare them to the BOP grades of Sri Lankan teas. Therefore, all leaves are small fragments. The aroma is sweet and woody, having scents of molasses, sweet hay, and light spice.
Nine grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (500 ml) cast-iron teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 205ºF (96ºC). The leaves were infused for three minutes.
The first infusion produced a nice deep orange color with a red tint, clear and transparent. The aroma is room-filling, with scents of malt, sweet hay, and very light floral. The body is full, with a pungent and moderately astringent feel. The taste has notes of malt, citrus, and perhaps pine wood? The aftertaste is lightly sweet and floral. At points in this cup, I thought I felt very slight notes of cinnamon all the way through the aftertaste.
The second infusion produced a lighter orange color. The aroma was significantly lighter, but retained the scents of malt and sweet hay. The body lightened to medium. The taste lightened signficantly, but retained tastes of malt, light citrus, and pine wood. Despite the significant lightening between the first and second infusion, the second was still worth drinking. However, I decided not to try a third infusion.
The wet leaves have a uniform copper color. Their is a uniform size and shape to the leaves. All leaves are small fragments. Some stems are present. The leaves have an aroma of malt and sweet hay.
Overall, the first infusion of the Charleston Breakfast black tea was enjoyable. It would definitely take milk or cream well. However, this is a single infusion tea, since I do not believe many people would find the second infusion to be worth drinking. Considering that my collection of strong black teas is quite undeveloped, this tea will serve a good purpose as my wakeup tea on drowsy mornings. I know that all of the teas produced at Charleston Tea Plantation are processed mechanically from the plucking stage to the finished product. As time goes on, and tea cultivation increases in popularity in the mainland United States, I hope that Charleston Tea Plantation will begin producing some hand-processed teas.