We visited the Charleston Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island, SC. This is the only tea plantation in the US. Tea plants are disease resistant, have no natural enemies and can produce tea for hundreds of years.
I did not realize that tea grew on bushes. The top 3 inches of the bush are cut off every 3 weeks from May - Oct. The tea is then dried and the stems separated from the leaves. Black, green and oolong tea are all from the same plant. It is the amount of drying time that determines what type of tea is created.
The harvester which trims and collects the tea leaves does the work of 500 men. The egrets follow the harvester and feast on the grasshoppers and bugs which are disturbed when the tea leaves are collected.