Charleston Tea Plantation - Wadmalaw Island Charleston County South Carolina SC

Charleston Tea Plantation – Wadmalaw Island
Charleston County

Note: We define a plantation as a large farm on which most of the work was done by slaves. Thus all the plantations we catalog were established before the Civil War.

The Charleston Tea Plantation was established in 1960 on a tract of land on Wadmalaw Island. It was never a plantation according to our definition, but we include it here because of public interest.

Basic Information


  • 1960 – The Thomas J. Lipton Company purchased Pinehurst Tea Plantation in Summerville, South Carolina. The plantation had been abandoned since 1915. Thomas Lipton rescued the surviving tea plants and moved them to a research facility that had been constructed on Wadmalaw Island.

    Mack Fleming, a horticultural researcher at Trident Technical College, was in charge of the operation. Lipton concluded, as the federal government had almost 150 years earlier, that the unstable climate and high costs of labor in South Carolina made American tea production unfeasible.

  • 1987 – Mack Fleming and William (Bill) Hall purchased the tea farm from their former employer, the Thomas J. Lipton Company.

  • 2003 – Due to differences of opinion and financial stress, Fleming and Hall decided to sell the tea farm. The Charleston Tea Plantation was auctioned off to R.C. Bigelow who paid $1.28 million.


  • Number of acres – 127

  • Primary crop – Tea


  • Alphabetical list – R.C. Bigelow; Mack Fleming and Bill Hall; Thomas J. Lipton Company


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