Longleaf Tea Company Tour & Tastings

Longleaf Tea Company Tour & Tastings

Hillary and Thomas Steinwinder started Longleaf Tea Company in 2018, only a few months after they moved home to Laurel. The couple began planting on Hillary's family land that had passed down five generations. Despite the long and laborious seasons, they believe that Americans and the US tea industry will be significantly impacted by just a cup of their Longleaf Tea. 

While tea leaves are small, Thomas and Hillary saw a huge opportunity. Longleaf Tea Co. is one of only a handful of tea growers and makers in the US. A small contingent is trying to disrupt the global market because the US imports 99.9% of its tea.  

It all started when Thomas worked in Shanghai as an Engineer between 2010 and 2012. Hillary visited him in China, and they spent months traveling the countryside, tasting new foods, learning a new language, and sipping the world's highest quality tea.

Thomas was asked by a fellow tea lover and drinker where Americans grow their tea, and he didn't have a good answer to her question. That conversation sparked something within Thomas, an innovator who lives to find solutions to big and small problems. He researched for nearly seven years, and when Hillary and Thomas moved home in 2018, they decided to try it. How hard could it be?

It turns out that planting and harvesting tea leaves are a challenging endeavor. Most often, the process is splintered. Tea farmers will grow the tea, tea picking companies will pick the leaves, and tea makers will make their tea brews. At

Longleaf Tea Co., their entire product is made right here in Jones County from start to finish. The whole family and extended family hand plots and pick every tea leaf each season, and they process the tea and focus heavily on the quality. Every batch has a different flavor because it's made by hand in one place. 

Hillary says, "There are only about ten commercial tea producers in the US, and we're one of the larger ones— and we're really small!" As a nation, tea drinkers consume 165 million pounds of tea. Today, the American tea industry produces only 15,000 pounds of that total."

Tea drinkers and curious sippers can taste the different brews on Longleaf Tea's Tour and Tastings. Each tour and tasting includes a guided field excursion, a full Farmhouse tour, and conversation on the art and science of American tea farming. Each experience ends with a curated tasting of one or more of our seasonal teas.

Hillary says, "We hope to educate others and tell the unfolding story of American-grown tea. We want to show how tea is a part of all cultures. Sometimes, we do it so fast, but it's meant to be savored and enjoyed. Sometimes it's just as much about the tea as the conversation or even just the quiet. We all can find something joyful in this practice."

Each tour is limited to 12 people so all participants can fit around the cypress table Ben Napier made for their episode of Home Town. Reservations are available for select Fridays, and each tour lasts around an hour and a half.

Learn more about the Longleaf Tour & Tasting here!