This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V20", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
It has been objected that the Tea-plant, though proved to do well in the climate of our Southern States, could not be prepared for a profit in this country, in competition with cheap Chinese labor. It is well known that the Canothus Americanus was extensively prepared as"Pennsylvania tea" a few years ago, and it is this which is referred to by the following correspondence of the Philadelphia Press:
"1 noticed in a late issue of The Press an article relating to the culture of Chinese tea in America, and the only obstacle to a full competition would be the high price of labor in this country. You observed that Yankee ingenuity would soon obviate the necessity of hand labor in its manufacture. This is true, as the following narrative will demonstrate. A company was formed in this part of the State to manufacture tea from an indigenous plant growing spontaneously in our mountains. I was employed, with others, in its manufacture by hand at first, and subsequently by machinery. I am acquainted with every department of its manufacture, from the plucking of the leaves till prepared for the tea-pot. By hand, it will cost about twenty-five cents per pound; by machinery, such as we used, it can be manufactured ready for market at about ten or twelve cents per pound. This includes the gathering of the leaves and all other expenses. There were expended, I suppose, some $20,000 in different machines before a successful one was obtained. It met every requirement, from the steaming of the green leaves till they were given that bloom and spiral shape so noticeable in foreign teas.
I write this letter that you may still urge its culture in America and bring to the notice of individuals that there is no barrier to successful competition with any foreign nations.
McElhattan, Pa. W. M. Q".