Happy Birthday America! As the descendant of both Mohawk Indians and my immigrant Swiss grandparents, I fell I can celebrate from both sides of the coin, although I am not sure that present day Mohawks feel quite so celebrative. My first ancestor from this land was an Indian princess, Ots-Toch, daughter of the Queen of the Mohawk Turtle Clan. She ruled an Indian castle around what is now Fultonville, NY. Another ancestress was Sarah Rapelie, daughter of Catalina Trico and Joris de Rapelie, the first white child born in the Dutch colonies, which stretched from Manhattan, north to what became Albany, NY. They were French, coming here to escape religious persecution. My Swiss ancestors came here early in the 1900's. All Americans, except for Native Americans, are immigrants, unless you go back to the end of the Ice Age.
People came here for many reasons. Some for religious freedom, some for adventure, some for a chance to own land and be their own person and some, just for a chance at wealth, but some came with no hope, as slaves. Today's immigrants come for the same reasons, people haven't changed too much in 400 years. We are a diverse nation and we need to work on celebrating that diversity, even as we celebrate our birthday.
Now, what tea to use to celebrate? I just happen to have some homegrown Charleston Plantation Tea, which is already iced and ready to go. It's a fairly plain tea and makes a fine plain ice tea. There is nothing wrong with plainness. Sometimes tea people get too caught up in searching for too many adjectives to describe something.
There are several other sources for American grown teas and now there is The United States League of Tea Growers, which had its inception at the World Tea Expo in June. Tea has grown to such a big market here that we can recognize it in this way. Charleston, owned by the Bigelow Tea Company is the oldest. Another Southern one is Fairhope Tea Plantation, in Alabama. Their teas may be purchased through www.churchmouse.com. Hawaii has several plantations, Big Island Tea at www.bigislandtea.com. is perhaps the best known, but is currently only selling its tea through Harrods of London. Cloudwater Tea is another, but is having website problems at the moment. Onomea Tea at www.onotea.com where you can buy tea directly from them. Their tea is all organic, as is Big Island.
Salem, Oregon has the Minto Island Growers, but you need to go to their farm stand. Washington has the Sakuma Brothers at www.sakumabros.com and they have 3 kinds of tea for sale, with free shipping. In Mississippi FiLoLi Tea Farm is in the process of growing tea, as is Roy Fong of the Imperial Tea Court in San Francisco.
If any of you know of any other US tea farms, estates, plantations, please let me know. As for me, I'll be on the back porch, sipping tea, as soon as the mowers are done.