Friday, August 3, 2012

Of Tea and Trees

Last weekend, we went to a tea plantation -- the only one in America! I didn't realize that this hot, humid climate is perfect for growing tea. I was thinking of the foothills of the Himalaya, but it gets plenty hot there. I willl be planting a bush this fall. If I could be any kind of farmer, I'd want to be a tea farmer. That's because tea has no natural predators. So no need to spray with pesticides or what-have-yous even if you grow it on a large scale.

We had a great time sampling the teas and I took lots of notes on the tour. Why, of course, I'm going to write it up for a magazine :) You know shorts are my biggest distraction from the novel-writing, right? And what better way than to curl up in the branch of a giant oak to do so ...

Some of the books I have enjoyed recently, which I read on my back porch (not this giant oak below) are: A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly and Emily's Fortune by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. And I'm loving Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. All historical fiction. I enjoyed NL for its complexity, EF for it's rollicking good fun, and the voice in CNV is AMAZING. I trust this author to spin a yarn so good even the Gestapo will buy it. 

Anyway, this tree is the largest and oldest oak on the East Coast, only a few miles away from the tea plantation. What a beauty!





 


On our way home we got caught in a thunderstorm. You can be sure we prayed our Hail Mary's. We were so glad to be home to watch some Olympics (I still remember we did not have a TV for the last set of games, so we are enjoying watching a few of the events -- swimming, diving, gymnastics).

I have some great revision notes to ponder from my writing friends. Thank you! I wish I could just hole myself in my office for the next two weeks to make the final round before I send it out, but we have less than a month off from school, so we want to know this beautiful lowcountry better. Hard to believe we've been here nearly a year. Living here has exceeded all my expectations regarding the people and place. Thanks be to God.

Have a great weekend, all. And get outside ... even if it's hot and humid. Have a picnic. Catch a storm. Steal a kiss.

*



14 comments:

Faith E. Hough said...

Mmmm... I love tea. And that live oak is so so gorgeous. I wish trees like that grew up north.

Mirka Breen said...

A tea break at a plantation... and an old Oak. Thank you for taking us along. I like mine with milk, always.

Marcia said...

What a fantastic tree!! I always love the pictures you include with your posts.

If I were any kind of farmer, I'd want an apple orchard.

Bish Denham said...

A truly magnificent tree. I want to climb in its branches, put my ear against the bark and hear what it has to say, feel its life pulsing.

Vijaya said...

Faith, I'm a tea-totaler too, and now am imagining snipping my own tea leaves. And isn't that tree just magnificent? Even the smaller ones are gorgeous.

Mirka, a cup coming up, with milk, of course. I prefer cream myself, but then I'd be 300 lbs.

Marcia, you should live in WA -- we grow the best apples.

Bish, you don't know how tempted we all were to climb those branches, but it is not allowed. But even to touch its bark made me feel like I was part of something so much bigger ...

Ruth Schiffmann said...

I am awed by that tree. Gorgeous!! Thanks so much for sharing the picture =)

Christina Farley said...

Oh those pictures are gorgeous. I love your last lines. I think I'll catch a kiss.

Vijaya said...

Ruth, I love sharing all this beauty around me.

Christina, yay for kisses :)

Teuvo Vehkalahti said...

This blog is through a nice to meet new people and their land, culture and nature. Come and look at you Teuvo Kuvat - Teuvo images, both at the same time will be my blog collection flag depicting your country's flag to rise higher. You should also tell all your friends to my blog by fermentation. Teuvo Vehkalahti Finland

annebingham said...

A long time ago I asked the local newspaper's food editor about that tea company -- it's American Classic, right? -- and they ran an article about it and sent a photog out to take my photo. It was an unsettling experience; I was used to being the reporter/photog, not being on the other end of the experience. It used to be carried in stores around here but I haven't seen it in decades. I just went to the website and it appears Bigelow owns the brand now.

I think Thomas Jefferson tried to get tea as a cash crop started here (also olives and rice) but it didn't catch on. Rice did, though!

Vijaya said...

Anne, it is American Classic! They partner with Bigelow now, but they're separate companies. AC only uses tea that is grown on their farm and B uses imported tea.

Yes, rice, watermelon, plantains (bananas) all came here via slave trade.

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

We visited some tea plantations in China. I would love to grow tea - what a fabulous idea! Just go out, pick a leaf, and make yourself a cup. That's pretty close to perfect as far as I'm concerned!

Happy writing!

Vijaya said...

Amy, that's exactly what I like about having a tea bush! I could make my own minty-tea fresh every single day.

Johnell DeWitt said...

I had no idea there were tea plantations and that tea has no natural predators. Cool info. Thanks.