First Flush Tea

What is it?

First Flush Tea is the new tea leaf growth of the season. The harvests are referred to as a "flush" with the first followed by a second (or spring), a summer (used for blends) and an autumn. The tender leaves and buds "flush up" and lend a light, bright brisk flavor to the tea.

What's the story?

Each year the Charleston Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island celebrates the harvest of this first growth of the season with a "First Flush FesTEAval," set for May 24 this year. It is a celebration of America's only tea grower and its product line, American Classic Tea. The festival, however, is more than tasting the tea: There's music, entertainment, art and local cuisine. Visit www.charlestonteaplantation.com to learn more.

Who's buying it?

Connoisseurs the world over have long prized "first flush" tea. In the past, it was reserved for royalty and it always has commanded a premium price. (In the 1800s, tea clippers would race the tea harvest from China and India to England with the prize given to the invoices marked "first flush.")

First flush seekers can order the tea ($15 a tin) by calling 559-0383, ext. 4206 or buy directly from the gift shop at Charleston Tea Plantation, 6617 Maybank Highway.

Quotable

In Town and Country magazine: "For me the perfect road trip involves rolled down windows, a trunk full of junk food, and an awesome play-list. My next road trip will be to The First Flush Festival at the Charleston Tea Plantation right outside the Holy City." - Dean, properkidproblems.com

Deidre Schipani