We are also at the end of “Black History Month” a concept created by Carter G. Woodson to insure the history and contributions of African-Americans be brought to the forefront for even a short period of time.
Carter Woodson, a historian, author and journalist, realized that African American contributions “were overlooked, ignored, and even suppressed by the writers of history textbooks and the teachers who use them.”. He chose a week (now extended currently to a month) in February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
So where is this all going and how does it relate to tea?
Another teatra.de member Xavier retweeted a link to tea photos from the Library Of Congress. When I took a look, a few photos caught my attention.
I have always wondered and have asked several knowledgeable tea people, Why tea growth in the US was never expanded?
There are certainly many parts of the country that have the terrior to sustain tea growth and production.
Most of the responses incorporated cost of labor, as being the main deterrent for the lack of expansion and the conversation would stop there.
History was never my favorite subject in school and I kept thinking, wasn’t there an abundance of free labor during the 18th century.
Didn’t the East India Tea Company import tea to the colonies in 1773?
In addition, wasn’t part of the economic backbone of monarchy during this period steeped in tea? It just didn’t make sense to me.
In my quick Wikipedia research I found out that tea cultivation in the U.S. was trialed in 1774 when seeds were sent to the Trust Garden in Savannah, Georgia.
My thoughts, the onset of the Revolutionary War in 1775 and the association of tea as a symbol of rebellion may have thwarted any focus on further exploration. This post is not to answer the question, as I will have to do much more research than the limited search I did on the web today.
Boston Tea Party, from Wikipedia
Wikipedia goes on to report: “The first recorded successful cultivation of the tea plant in the United States is recorded as growing on Skidaway Island near Savannah in 1772. Junius Smith succeeded in growing tea commercially in Greenville, South Carolina, from 1848 until his death in 1853. Dr. Alexis Forster oversaw the next short-lived attempt in Georgetown, South Carolina, from 1874 until his death in 1879. In 1863, the New York Times reported the discovery of tea plants growing natively in Western Maryland and Pennsylvania.”
Some one I respect greatly for his wealth of knowledge mentioned it might have been because tea could not rival the south’s two most prominent, financially lucrative crops at the time cotton and tobacco which would seem feasible because it is generally all about the money.
In addition the Civil War 1861-1865, and the aftereffects, would have also had a significant effect in all southern crop production.
Back to how this post came about.
On the Library Of Congress site (Thanks again Xavier), I noticed several photos about tea that prompted this post in honor of “Black History Month”.
Accession ID # P.DPC.017710
School Teacher and Her Students at Pinehurst, Summerville, South Carolina
From Wikipedia I found;
” In 1888 Dr. Charles Shepard established the Pinehurst Tea Plantation close to the government’s farm. Dr. Shepard secured laborers for the fields by opening a school and making tea-picking part of its curriculum, essentially ensuring a force of child labor while providing them with an education they might not otherwise obtain. Pinehurst produced award winning teas until Dr. Shepard’s death in 1915. The garden closed after Shepard’s death and Pinehurst lay unattended until 1963.”
More info on the current status of this field can be found on Wikipedia, Tea Production in the United States and it is interesting.
The original plantation was eventually moved and exists today as The Charleston Tea Plantation.
This post is to recognize the African Americans who harvested tea here in the United States, even for brief period in which they did.
Tea pickers singing songs for President Roosevelt, Pinehurst Tea Farm, Summerville, S.C.
It is also to take the time to acknowledge our current President Obama, who hails from Hawaii where tea is being cultivated today and may serve to provide us with another source of American tea.
I have read he drinks his tea with milk and also enjoys Honest Tea
As I type, I realize, that we have come so far and have so far to go.
Article about Charleston Plantation http://www.teamuse.com/article_011201.html
Article citing President Obamas tea preference http://www.nydailynews.com/lifestyle/president-barack-obama-drink-honest-tea-article-1.420632#.T0K7Ekuhbiw.mailto
Information Tea Cultivation Hawaii http://www.hawaiiteasociety.org/