Mauna Kea Tea Garden
46-3870 Old Mamalahoa HighwayHonoka'aHawai'i(808) 775-1171Website
Onomea Tea Company
27-604 Alakahi PlacePapaikouHawai'i808 964-3283Website
Tea Hawaii & Company
Hawai'i(808) 967-7637Website


Waimea Mid-week Farmer's Market
Pukalani StreetKamuelaHawai'i(808) 775-9549


The tea we brew, whether in bags or loose leaf, is actually the cured leaves of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis. Originating in East Asia, it can be grown in tropical and sub-tropical climates. The plant can grow into a tree, but is often kept at hedge height for easier tending and harvesting. It takes up to three years for a plant to reach harvest age. Only the young leaves of the plant are harvested for tea. There are perhaps thousands of different strains of tea plants, each cultivated carefully over centuries to adapt to regions as well as styles of teas. Green, white, yellow, oolong and black tea are the general categories of distinction used when talking about tea. Though all are leaves harvested from the same plant, each kind of tea is cured or processed in different ways.

Fortunately it grows well in here in Hawaii at higher elevations and wetter climates. Tea plants were brought to Hawaii over a century  ago and commercially grown, but farms never took hold possibly due to the combination of price competition from growth of large tea plantations overseas and the rise of the coffee industry here. Right now the Hawaii Tea Society counts over 100 members of farmers and backyard growers, and the list is growing.

Enjoying tea is an art of its own. To experience fully the nuances of tea, it can be fun to do a little research. One teaspoon of leaves freed in a cup of water heated to a certain temperature can offer a different experience with the second, third, or even fourth brew.

Prepping and Sipping Tips

– Preparing and experiencing tea can be an art.  We’ll let you do your own wandering through the fascinating world of tea.  Here are a few standard, generalized basics for us amateurs:

  1. Use the freshest water possible
  2. The standard measurement is 1 rounded teaspoon per 8 ounce cup (this is just a general standard, there are many exceptions)
  3. Leaves need room to expand (tea balls are not the best for this reason, use a pot or french press even, then strain)
  4. Different tea requires different steeping temperatures & steep times –
  • Black tea needs full boil (211 degrees), 4-6 minutes steeping
  • Oolong tea needs a near boil (steaming kettle, bubbles rising but nothing breaking surface like a full boil (190 degrees), 3-4 minutes steeping is usual
  • Green teas need water that is slightly cooler (steam just wafting out of the kettle, 160-180 degrees), 2-3 minutes steeping is the max anything over cooks the leaves and nutrients disappear
  • White teas need even cooler water (only the first hint of steam 150-160  degrees), 2 minutes steeping is standard though a bit longer is ok
  • Puehr teas can be made with water at green tea temperature, but it can also be prepared with boiling water and long steep, 7-8 minutes is standard though you can go much longer to 20 minutes if it suits your tastes
  • Herbal teas are usually made with boiling water, steep times 3-4 minutes with some medicinal blends requiring up to 9 full minutes

– Young, tender just picked tea leaves can be also eaten in salads.

Selecting and Storing
Most tea farms in the Hawaiian Islands are selling directly. Many also offer tours, tastings and classes on farm.

Storage varies according to types of teas, but most agree that tea should be enjoyed within a year of purchase, kept in air tight containers, cool dark areas. Tea can be sensitive to temperature changes.

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