Each day began with a sunrise walk on the beach. As all days should.

Not a plantation in the Gone With The Wind sense, but this farm cultivated tea bushes that had arrived from China in the 1700s; and then went wild on a nearby island for a half-century before being transplanted to the farm.  A third-generation tea taster (something we learned along the way!) cultivated the plant. The farm became the only (to this day, even) tea-growing “plantation” in America.

In 2003 the Bigelow Family purchased the farm. Since the 1940s “Mrs Bigelow” had been experimenting with ordinary tea to improve its flavor, and by the by a partnership was formed.

There is a short movie that describes the process of growing and harvesting the leaves (often done 5-7 times in one season), and then roasting them to achieve teavana.  A longer trolley ride takes visitors around the plantation and past the bog with alligators, with entertaining commentary.  Entirely worth our time.

The tea harvesting machine was purpose built and is the only one of its kind. American Ingenuity.

The gift shop at the farm was exceptional, and we found plenty of local products to purchase, too. My kind of shopping. Lunch followed at a homey place along Ellis Creek, where there was even a dog menu!  CTF very much enjoyed his homemade Beef Stew.

For the rest of us, well, you know the drill. Fried Okra; Shrimp and Grits; Portobello Tacos (for the lovely vegan Fran); and Blackened Grouper sandwiches. We were most definitely loving lowcountry cooking.

The natural next step of course was to beach comb. On the morning walk I discovered my first Knobbed Whelk along with half of a Sand Dollar. I kept the Sand Dollar as a good luck totem, in the hopes I might find one intact. Over the following days I found Cockles, Scallops; Oysters; a second intact Whelk; a few shark teeth; some coral; and Lettered Olives (the South Carolina State Shell) but never did I find an intact Sand Dollar.

Beautiful Sea Foam.

This was pretty much our m.o. Sightseeing in the morning; an excellent lunch somewhere; and then beach combing until the tide began drifting back in and we needed to figure out supper. So reminiscent of our favorite annual holiday on Cape Cod…