Mom and I had family visiting in June (2023) and were looking for some fun things to do close by. I remembered the Table Rock Tea Company. I knew about it for a while but just never remembered to stop in on my way to or from hiking. What an interesting story and delicious tea. They started with just a hedge row for friends and family. Isn’t that how it usually works?
Table Rock Tea is run by a husband a wife duo, Steve and Jennifer Lorch. They became interested in tea during their time in Kenya. The natives taught them all about tea and they are using that knowledge to grow some fab tea in our region. Did you know Kenya produces 20% of the world’s tea?
Here are some cool, random bits of information I learned on the tour:
- It takes 3ish years for the plants to be mature enough to pick tea.
- You only pick from the new growth.
- In my notes, it says they will produce for 50 to 80 years, some even longer. Some in China are thought to be 1,000 years old (though maybe not producing).
- All tea comes from 1 bush – the difference is in the manner of processing.
- It takes about 5lb of leaves to get 1lb of finished leaves.
- No natural predators! Deer can’t eat the waxy, prickly leaf which also has caffeine.
- If you want a more decaffeinated tea, then steep leaves in cup of hot water for 20 seconds, dump the first cup then fill up. This will naturally cut the caffeine with no use of chemicals.
Table Rock has a large greenhouse that is like a huge terrarium. 95% of the seeds the germinate turn into plants. Their plant has a large tap root so requires less water and resources to grow. Some of you may have been to the tea plantation in Charleston. Their plants have more of a spider route system and are more fragile, plus needs water irrigation. I haven’t been down there yet but it’s on my list.
You will see their new herbal garden, where they are working to produce some herbal teas using herbs like yarrow, echinacea, chamomile, and lavender. Do you have a hard time growing lavender? Well, try planting in a shale rocky bed. It needs lots of drainage and not a lot of water.
They are doing amazing things in the mountains and I can’t wait to see what comes next, I am voting for tea tastings and a tea room! Go take the tour and learn all about their Lazarus Field, why it’s called that, and see how the plants are doing now. They had their Marathon tea iced for our tasting pleasure. We all got a few goodies. Loved the Walhalla Masala and the Westminster. Tell them you heard about it from Raspberry Moon and let me know which teas you get!
Happy Tea Time!