Camellia Forest Tea Gardens has grown out of the vision of Christine and David Parks, who founded the garden in 2006 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to test the wide variety of tea plants in their collection, and provide a practical resource for tea lovers and gardeners. For David, our tea gardens are a botanical preserve for our collection of diverse varieties, for testing hardiness and productivity, and a source of seeds and cuttings for the plants he sells at the nursery. For Christine, they are a peaceful retreat for cultivating and harvesting tea, making her own teas and blends, learning and teaching classes.
Christine has always loved gardening and cooking with fresh, homegrown produce. One of the things she likes best about tea (besides the aroma), is the creative and healthy focus that comes with growing and crafting tea. She is inspired by the lifetime of opportunities to learn about tea history, craft and culture, and her vision is to share her experiences and knowledge to support a community of local, independent growers.
David grew up surrounded by all things Camellia. After college and working in botany and molecular biology, he found his way back home to run the family business, Camellia Forest Nursery. In the nursery, David grows hundreds of different Camellias and other species, and in his spare time he tends his collection of rare and unusual plants, and enjoys traveling as a modern-day "plant hunter".
In addition to tea, Camellia Forest has been home to Alex and Julia, who have grown up alongside the plants. The tea garden started when Julia was 2 years old, and now she helps her dad trim the tea and has become our official green tea taster, while Alex has been helping his dad build our future tea processing house.