Did ya'll know that most of the tea that Americans buy in stores - most all imported - is, actually, of a single variety: Camellia sinensis, otherwise known as the “tea plant” or “tea shrub.” From this plant white, yellow, green, oolong, pu-erh, and black teas are made through a varied process of oxidization, fermentation, and roasting.
But while Camellia sinensis can be grown in the United States, there isn’t much of a market for growing or producing the plants indigenously. This is self-evident in the import/export numbers. American tea companies would rather import from China, Sri Lanka, Argentina, and India, where labor costs are below international poverty levels, and work conditions suspect (read: child labor and indentured servitude) than to cultivate the crop here on American soil.
We here at The Emerald Coast Tea Company wild harvest our native grown yaupon holly by hand. In fact, each leaf is touched - start to finish - no less than six times to ensure you are receiving a pure whole and broken leaf tea, devoid of stems and naturally occurring debris. This offers up a tea that is lower in tannins, smooth-tasting and full-bodied.
While those from the elite tea class are quick to point out that we simply must accept that "real tea" is imported, we respectfully disagree and take pride in our locally grown, harvested, processed and marketed products. We are creating jobs, engaging with our local economies and refusing to exploit those suffering the unfair labor practices of the countries from which the big tea companies import their raw product.
So, if being proud of growing, wild harvesting and producing a product that is 100% made in the USA is a bad thing, than call us irreverent. It's what gave birth to our nation and we celebrate that freedom.
To those who disagree, that is your right, bless your hearts.