Before we begin discussing the shop and the tea, let me just say that the grounds were beautiful. Huge Live Oaks (called that because these Oak trees keep their leaves even in winter), Palm Trees, and flowers greet you as you drive/walk to the store.
to see the fields of Camellia sinensis, the tea plant! Tea comes from this one plant, but the there are 320 varieties of the plant on the plantation.
We were told that only the top leaves are used to make tea--the lower leaves are bitter.
We also learned that they don't use seeds to grow the tea plant, in fact they will pull up shoots that grow from seeds. Instead they use cuttings to start new plants in a green house, that they will then plant in a new field. Using cuttings insures that the plant's taste will remain the same.
After we returned from the tour, we went inside the gift store.
There was a bar with both hot and cold tea to try--here are just some of the samplings:
In addition to loads of tins and boxes of tea, they also had tea lotions for sale, and candles!
I came away with some souvenirs of course, including this sampler pack as a gift for my sister.
I also bought some stuff for me... and got the below bag for free!
(Picture taken from the balcony of my hotel room)