Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tea Plantation and Goodbyes

After seeing a brochure for this, we couldn't leave without visiting the Charleston Tea Plantation since this is the only grower of tea in North America. When something is one-of-a-kind and we are close, we rarely pass up the opportunity to check it out.

The drive to Wadmalaw Island was lovely. It is a rural agricultural community so little traffic and very peaceful as we drove under heavy tree canopy most of the way.

If you go, know that the sign at the entrance is hard to see. We nearly missed it. This sign is on the grounds after you park.

We arrived about twenty minutes before they opened. I know! It is very rare for us to be somewhere before opening...okay...yeah...they opened at noon today. Still, we were on the first trolley tour of the day. Isn't this a cool trolley? It was used in Philadelphia's trolley system for many years before it was retired and the plantation's owner purchased it on E-Bay.

As the trolley left the Visitor Center, it passed under these Live Oak trees. These large, long branches curved into an arch high enough to allow passage of a tall vehicle...these trees are mystical, magical, magnificent!

This is a field of tea plants. They look like hedges because they are "trimmed" when harvesting the leaves. Note the narrow rows between each "hedge".

This is the best shot I could get of a tea blossom since the plants are resting for the winter and will bloom again in spring. Note the straight cut across the tips of two leaves near the top of the photo.

This my friends is a tea leaf harvester and it works like a giant lawnmower, cutting off the leaves that rise more than 40 inches above the ground. There is no other machine like this one; it was built especially for this purpose. Driving down the narrow rows between sections, the leaves are cut, blown into a catcher and then dumped into the bed of a pickup truck when full.

We also toured the facility that turns those leaves into the three kinds of tea: green, black, and Oolong. Take time to visit if you are in the area!

By then we were hungry so we drove back into the city for dinner. We decided on TBonz which is directly across the street from Historic City Market.

A replica of the Statue of Liberty covered in small mosaic tiles greets you  as you enter. It is quite a work of art; I would love to have it in my house.

Speaking of art. We like fun art; absurd art; unique, even irreverent art. Our taste is unpredictable but oddly enough we are both usually drawn to the same things, except for contemporary installation art which I love and Rich loves to deride! Anyway, TBonz displays the following paintings. They are replicas of very famous paintings with a twist in line with the restaurant's name...the bovine twist. Can you name the original paintings and/or the artist? Check back on Wednesday or Thursday if you are interested and I will update this post with that information.

Rich says that when you see a beer with a name like this on the menu, you must order it. Can you read the tag line under the name? It says "YOU'RE NOT WORTHY" and the back label continues the theme...too funny!

And now the lasts...this was my last meal in Charleston...the best chopped Cobb Salad I've ever eaten. Rich had a steak that he said was perfect. I am so glad that we picked such a fun place with delicious food for our last evening. Really, you must go to Magnolias and TBonz to eat if you're in Charleston.

Our last drive down to the Battery and back up on East Bay Street

 Our last drive down Market Street

Our last drive into our RV Park. This is a home inside the park and this RV park is loaded with huge Live Oak trees similar to this one.

This was my seventh visit to this fabulous city. There is so much in this area to see and do and EAT...giggle! I hope we come back. We stayed days longer than originally planned and agree that there are many more things we would like to do here. time!

Lovin' Life ~~ Leavin' Charleston

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