Fred and Rachelle Holmes, owner of Rachelle’s Island Boutique and Thee Matriarch Bed & Breakfast in Orangeburg, continue to rack up the honors for their line of award-winning super premium ice tea.
Last fall, the couple’s Island Tea won first place at the Summerville DREAM Sweet Tea Festival.
“I am so proud that our World Famous Rachelle's Island Tea has been Voted the #1 People's Choice Best Sweet Tea, Best Sweet Champions and is being requested to represent our state of South Carolina and my hometown of Orangeburg, SC as the featured beverage for conferences, galas and special events as a drinking beverage and to give as a gift to attendees as a Made in SC product,” Rachelle said.
Last month, their tea was named the “Best Sweet” champion at the 9th Annual Taste of Black Columbia, held at the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia.
“The Taste of Black Columbia serves as an excellent forum to promote the culinary skills of Chefs, Caterers and Restaurants within the African American Community,” said Darrin Thomas, founder and host of the Taste of Black Columbia. “Having Rachelle’s Island represent as the 2019 Taste of Black Community ‘Sweet Category’ winner further highlights the incredible talent in the food service industry.”
Now the Holmes’ award-winning tea is attracting national attention. The tea was the featured beverage for the 22 Democratic presidential candidates in attendance at Congressman James Clyburn’s World-Famous Fish Fry, held at EdVenture Children's Museum in Columbia. The presidential candidates said that they had never tasted anything like it.
“This is award-winning tea,” said California Sen. Kamala Harris.
“You have the best sweet tea, I hear, all around,” added New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.
Rachelle developed the signature line of World Famous Rachelle's Island Beverages in 1994. It was way to pay homage to her upbringing.
“As a youngster, I remember when guests would come to my parents and grandparents’ home,” she recalled. “After they greeted their guests, the next order of business was to serve an iced-cold glass of refreshing Sweet Tea. Sweet Tea is the welcome beverage of the South. As I traveled the world and ordered sweet tea, I am quickly reminded that Sweet Tea is the ‘Southern Hospitality Beverage.’ Everyone else serves cold tea and you add a sweetener of your choice. I am always proud to say I am from the south and share my ‘Southern Hospitality’ through my personality and hospitality businesses.
Initially, Rachell served her line of teas at the Island Deli Café, located inside her women’s clothing boutique, Rachelle's Island Boutique. Guests enjoyed Rachelle's Island Tea, Island Punch and Island Lemonade. The couple eventually closed the Island Deli. They now serve the tea at Thee Matriarch Bed & Breakfast and at catering events around Orangeburg.
“In Orangeburg we currently have a tea stand at DORA's Downtown Farmers Market, Claflin University Farmers Market and several vending events,” Rachelle says.
The line of beverages has become so popular that the couple is beginning to sell it regionally and plan to make it a national brand.
“I dreamed of one day bottling and distributing refreshing beverages that would be sold nationally and globally,” Rachelle said. “I am so excited to say that in November 2018 We launched our first Rachelle's Island Tea Limited Edition Collectors Bottles. I am presently reviewing commercial bottling and distribution opportunities to full fill direct ship to consumer, grocery stores, restaurants and bakeries and food trucks. I am also touring states selling, promoting and sampling our beverages and setting up Rachelle's Island tea stands and pop-up shops to build our brand, national awareness and market share as we prepare for bottling and distribution.”
In the meantime, customers can purchase the Rachelle’s Island World Famous Island Tea in special commemorative bottles and mugs. Available flavors include Rachelle’s Island Tea, Island Lemonade and Island Punch. All three flavors are available by the gallon for $10. Island Tea Limited Edition Collectors Bottles (Signed & Numbered) are: Mason Jar Mug $8, Classic Bottle $10 and Vintage Bottle $15. Orders can be placed in person at Thee Matriarch Bed & Breakfast, located at 1170 Fischer Street in Orangeburg, SC, or by calling (803) 937-4271.