History: Tea in Georgia
Tea was first imported to the America by the Dutch in 1650. Camellia sinensis was the first of the the Camellia genus to come to the continent in 1744. Seeds that were sent to the Trust Gardens in Savannah, GA did not survive, but according to the U.S. Patent Office Report in 1805, tea plants were flourishing on Skidaway Island near Savannah. Unfortunatley, due to insufficient capital and a malaria outbreak, the effort to grow tea as a commercial crop failed. Another effort was made in Charleston, SC, In 1813, but as in the Savannah region, it was not successful.
This wild Camellia sinensis seedling was found near a mother bush in the Georgia Piedmont. It had germinated and grown without human intervention for two years. The tea plant is considered to be native to Southeast Asia, yet the subtropical climate of Georgia is just warm enough to support the plant without much maintenance.