Steve and Jennifer Lorch are the owners and founders of the Table Rock Tea Company. They live and work near Table Rock State Park in northern Pickens County, South Carolina.
Steve and Jennifer are also the founders of Hydromissions International. It was their work with this organization/business that took them to Kenya’s tea region for a water well drilling trip in 2002. Upon their return home from this trip, Steve bought a tea plant online and stuck it in the ground at their suburban home in Mauldin, SC. It grew. After moving to the mountains (Table Rock), the Lorches decided to plant a hedge row of several hundred plants. Instead of using strictly ornamentals, they decided to plant tea. It grew well in the area, and Table Rock Tea Company was born. The tea farm now sits on 17 acres at the base of Table Rock Mountain State Park.
I was recently able to communicate with Steve and ask him a few questions about his life and work in the world of tea production.
LYNN: Does tea have an importance or meaning to you beyond that of being a product with which you work? Can you elaborate on this?
STEVE: Being avid entrepreneurs, tea offers such a wide variety of areas to explore. Everything from growing, to processing, to product development, to marketing – you name it, tea has it. There is enough variety and interest in the tea space to keep us exploring for the rest of our lives. We give tours of our farm and processes almost weekly, and that gives us a great opportunity to meet great people, share great ideas, and sip great tea together. That’s the truly fun part.
LYNN: What is your favorite type or style of tea?
STEVE: We were introduced to tea via single-origin black tea from Kenya, so that is what we really like. Although black tea is our preference, we actually grow and make an exceptionally fresh green tea (WinterLeaf®), as well as a very good, hand-crafted oolong. As certified tea specialists, we’ve tried (and continue to try) hundreds of teas of all different styles and origins. They all have a place at our table, depending on what mood we happen to be in at the time. Our slogan here at Table Rock Tea Company is simple: “Drink what tastes good to you.” With that in mind, we strive to make high-quality, Uniquely American Tea.
LYNN: It sounds like you sort of accidentally fell into the world of tea production. Is that accurate? And if so, has tea now become more of a passion?
STEVE: We did kind of fall into it, but yes, it has become a passion of ours - Jen and I are process engineers/product developers by nature, so tea lends itself well to our strengths. We always go “all in” to any endeavor we undertake.
Those of us in this area of Upstate South Carolina and Western North Carolina are lucky that you and Jennifer did decide to go “all in” in this endeavor. You are creating a destination that is unique to this area and appealing to all of us who are enthusiastic about tea.
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