|Camellia bush in a misty morning (Descanso Gardens, Oct 2007)|
|Camellia collection in the Elezabethan Gardens (Nov. 2010)|
Most of readers, I believe, would be hard-pressed to name a tea plantation in America except Lipton's Charleston Tea Plantation . For me, the closest connection to American Tea Gardens would be the two camellia gardens I have visited--Descanso Gardens in Glendale (about 20 minutes drive east of LA) and Elizabethan Gardens near Outer Banks, NC, plus the "pride and joy" bush in a protected spot of my backyard! From my experience, camellia plant is similar in temperament as my other favorite plant: gardenia. Once the combination of right weather, location and soil are provided, it would proliferate without much extra attention.
Few years ago, I dreamed of making my cup of tea from a tea plant in my own yard and had thus ordered various frost-free camellia plants from Camellia Forest Nursery . Somehow none of the 20 plants survived after 2 years of struggle.
However, a recent article in the Word Tea News about The History of American Tea Gardens revived my hope about fresh American teas in the making from Alabama, Hawaii , SC, Washington, Oregon and Pacific NW areas. If successful, a tea plantation tour similar to the winery tour would be my next travel pursuit!