Waverly Tea Estate

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Ever wondered what it’s like to start a tea farm? Or have you already faced the challenges? Our second Featured Grower can tell you more about the experience.

Hear from James Orrock, tea grower at Waverly Tea Estate. 

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Name: Waverly Tea Estate
Grower: James Orrock
Location: Waverly, Florida

Waverly Tea Estate is a small estate in its early stages, and is owned by 4th generation citrus grower James Orrock. The estate is located in Waverly, Florida, an inland area about an hour south of Orlando.

James is has contributed to the USLTG with his knowledge on plant pathology, delivering a talk at last year’s USLTG Grower Roundup. Let’s hear more about his experiences!  

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TOTUS Awards

U.S. teas get competitive, with first-ever national awards

Earlier this month, growers put their teas to the test in the first ever Tea of the United States awards.

The event was hosted in the state of Hawaii on the Big Island. The island is home to many flourishing tea growers, including the event’s organizer, Eva Lee of Tea Hawaii & Company. The competition was co-funded by the Hawaii County Office of Research and Development, and comes during a time of growth in the US grown tea industry.

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The event was hosted in Volcano, HI on the tea-abundant island of Hawai’i (the Big Island).

Only teas grown on US soil were allowed to enter the competition. Teas were evaluated by a panel of professional tasters, based on industry standards of excellence.

Two USLTG members won awards for their teas. Congratulations to:
David Bromwich (2nd Place Green Tea, 1st Place Oolong Tea in non-commercial division) and
Jason McDonald (1st Place Green Tea, 1st Place Black Tea in non-commercial division).

See the full list of awards from TOTUS.

All 4 winnings teas from the USLTG’s ranks were grown by Jason McDonald in Brookhaven, Mississippi. The farm has had the guidance of fellow USLTG founding member Nigel Melican and tea researchers from Mississippi State University. Growers from Hawaii won most of the awards, although another tea from the mainland, from Golden Feather Tea in California, won accolades.

Along with the TOTUS awards, a tea event was hosted for the public to help spread tea education and promote tea businesses.

The TOTUS awards remind us that the US Grown Industry is moving forward, and that US Grown Tea can now begin to take its place among the quality teas and origins of the world. Tea is an art and a science, taking dedicated growers, crafters, and supporters to truly make it flourish.

 

Tea research is happening – help support it!

Agriculture is important in the United States, and we are lucky to have many academic and government institutions that support it. Without them, it would be much more challenging to be a farmer in the United States, where you need to be equipped with information.

What tea growers need in the US right now is more information about their crop, Camellia sinensis. Academic research can help growers find solutions for plant diseases, choose tea cultivars, and examine various agricultural techniques. You can help make this happen!

This year, researchers from universities across the country are writing USDA federal grants that could fund 5 years of tea research. An grant written earlier this year was rejected, but not without a very positive response from the evaluation. With this positive response, and your help, they can resubmit the grant.

Read more about the grant from research associate Judson LeCompte, and email Judson (jsl279@msstate.edu) or Dr. Bi from the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences (gbi@pss.msstate.edu) to see how you can help with your Letters of Support. 

Deadline: December 3, 2015

USLTG 2015 Meeting Announcement

round upIt is with great excitement that we announce the 2015 meeting of the US League of Tea Growers.

Date: February 19th – 22nd

Time: 8AM-10AM (2/20) & 8AM-9AM (2/21)

Location: Great Mississippi Tea Company (2572 E Lincoln Rd SE, Brookhaven, MS 39601)

Items on the agenda include, but are not limited to: old business, new business, progress of the league, a membership drive, upcoming projects, and formation of a nominating committee for the election of a new executive committee as called for in the bylaws (Art 6 Sec E- Nominating Committee).

  • The last order of business is the formation of a nominating committee. The positions to fill this year will be President, Exec VP/Treasurer, Atlantic Coast Rep, Gulf Coast Rep, and Pacific Coast Rep.
  • This also means there needs to be immediate action in the membership drive department so that there are voters to vote in the election.
  • If you want to serve in any capacity, feel free to throw your hat into the ring. This includes current office holders that wish to retain their positions.

Below is the current schedule of events. All events are subject to change.

February 18, 2015

  • 5:00PM – 8:00PM: East Texas Tea Company’s Welcome Reception

February 19, 2015 (All seminars to be held at ETTC, Mount Vernon, TX)

  • 8:00AM – 8:45AM: Introduction To Monitoring For Plant Health led by James Orrock, University of Miami
  • 8:45AM – 9:30AM: Building A Business Plan For Sustainable Farms And Agribusinesses led by Rene’ McCracken, Northeast Texas Community College
  • 9:30AM – 9:45AM: Soil Building – The Foundation Of Farming led by Kenny Rollins, A&M University AgriLIFE Extension
  • 9:45AM – 10:15AM: USDA and Department of Conservation Staff On Rural Development Programs
  • 10:15AM – 11:15AM: Roundtable – Q & A
  • 11:20AM – Lunch: On-site Presentation And Visit Of ETTC Permaculture Tea Block/Garden

February 20, 2015

  • 8:00AM – 9:00AM: USLTG Meeting (Brookhaven, MS)
  • 9:00AM – 10:00AM: USLTG Meeting & Membership Drive (Brookhaven, MS)
  • 10:00AM – 11:00AM: Great Mississippi Tea Company Farm Tour (Brookhaven, MS)
  • 11:00AM – 12:00PM: pH Testing and Nursery Discussions led by Nigel Melican, Dr. Bi (MSU), and Judson LeCompte (MSU) (Brookhaven, MS)
  • 2:00PM – 4:00PM: Tour of Transcend Nursery, propagation techniques, and presentation of current tea genetic collection led by Buddy Lee (Owner) (Independence, LA)

February 21, 2015

  • 8:00AM – 9:30AM: USLTG Meeting (Brookhaven, MS)
  • 11:00AM – 12:00PM: MSU Truck Crops Experiment Station Tour – research site of the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funded Tea Field Trial (Crystal Springs, MS)
  • 2:30PM – 4:00PM: Researcher Roundtable with confirmed representatives from MSU, LSU, Auburn. (Brookhaven, MS)
  • 7:30PM – Cowboy Jim’s Farm-To-Table Dinner (Brookhaven, MS)

February 22, 2015

  • 10:00AM – 12:00PM: Tour and presentation at J&D Blueberries by Don & Jeff (Poplarville, MS)
  • 3:00PM: Closing Remarks (Brookhaven, MS)

**Please note that there is travel between locations and tours. Transportation is not being provided. Please plan accordingly.

The cost per person will be $100.00. This fee gives you access to all USLTG meetings, tours, presentations, and includes the Saturday night dinner at Cowboy Jim’s.

For question, or to register for this event, please send a note to Jason McDonald at coaster_25@hotmail.com no later than February 9th, 2015. A PayPal invoice for the meeting fees will be sent to you to reserve your spot.

We look forward to seeing you in February and please pass this information to your fellow tea growers and enthusiasts!