Breakfast Tea Like No Other



photo by Natalie Zakanova

Most breakfast blends are made with dark Assam teas to take with milk and sugar.  Otherwise, they’ll make your nose curl and your palate pucker.  When I created Island Breakfast, I wanted a hearty black tea that could be enjoyed neat which means zero add calories.


Breakfast blends are made with low elevation Assam tea from the central to southern part of India.  Assam is one of the largest tea growing region in the world.  These teas are known for their strength and body as the rhino in the region’s logo implies.  These teas are sturdy and stand up well to milk and sugar.

Island Breakfast is made with fine Assam for a rich malty base.  We blend in high elevation Darjeeling to lift the cup and add breadth as a straight drinker.  One sip and you will taste why Island Breakfast is breakfast tea like no other.

Green Tea: An Elixir for Life


“Green tea can prevent cancer,” was the claim made by a Japanese study more than 25 years ago that lit the fire about the health benefits of tea drinking.  Researchers were curious to learn why residents in Shizuoka who smoked cigarettes just as much as in other parts of Japan experienced lower rates of esophogeal and stomach cancer.  One lifestyle difference researchers studied was green tea consumption which is high in Shizuoka because the region is the bread basket (more like tea basket) for the country.

Over the years, studies in Japan and in other countries have arrived at the same conclusion that green tea can shrink tumors and cancer cells.  Other health benefits of drinking green tea include:

  • Improved heart health and immunity boost
  • Relaxation
  • Regulate blood balance
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Contains zero calories
  • Anti-bacterial properties so great to drink raw foods like sushi

Enjoy a cup of fine green tea.  It’s an elixir for life!

Why Try Our Chai?


I learned to make great tasting chai before I actually acquired a taste for the Indian drink.  Growing up in Hawaii in an Asian American home, putting spices and milk in hot tea was a foreign concept.  One of my mentors was a tea merchant from India who taught me how to make good chai.

Our chais are mixtures of tea and spices.  You add the kind of milk and sweetener that you desire.

In 2014, Chefs Wade Ueoka and Michelle Karr-Ueoka contacted us about afternoon tea service at their namesake MW Restaurant.  Oprah launched her chai that year and I boldly set out to make them a chai that would be better than Oprah’s.

This year, we added MW Coconut Chai to the Island Essence Tea Collection.


Our MW Coconut Chai Frappe sold out at a collab pop-up this summer.




6oz brewed MW Coconut Chai     20g agave     3oz coconut milk

Fresh whipped cream     Wailea Ag nutmeg     Ice cubes



Steep 4g of tea in 7oz freshly boiled water for 10 minutes then strain.  Stir in agave and coconut milk then let cool.  Pour over ice.  Top with whipped cream and freshly ground nutmeg.

Drink can also be serve blended.



Hawaiian Grown Tea

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Doesn’t look like much now but one day this will be part of a beautiful working tea farm…Hawaiian Style!  Ulupalakua Ranch on the leeward side of Haleakala is planting tea at 4700′ above sea level.  What makes this project unique is that rows of tea is being planted between rows of native koa trees.  The koa will grow tall over time while the tea will be manicured to be an understory crop.  Leaves from the koa trees help with nitrogen fixation to maintain soil fertility for years to come.

More than a Drink

Keep calm

An excerpt from a customer’s letter that tea is more than just a drink.

“I am writing to thank you for making such wonderful tea.  As a disabled Army veteran, I don’t often find easy, quick ways to unwind.  Your teas help me to do just that.  Your teas have helped me to successfully manage stress, anxiety and PTSD in a healthy way.

Please let the people at your company know how much I appreciate the time and effort you all put into making your tea.  At the end of the day just know there are those out here like myself who are stealing a much needed quiet moment of peace with the fabulous tea you make.”

Thank you for enjoying our products.

Live well, Laugh often, Love much.


puerhPuerh was my dad’s favorite tea with dim sum and it wasn’t because of it’s taste.  It’s deep, earthy quality is definitely an acquired taste.  I learned that he drank it because it cut the oil and aided digestion. I couldn’t get past the smell.

Puerh tea is made from broad leaf camellia sinensis found in Yunnan province, China.  Typically, the tea is formed into flat cakes which makes for easy storing.  Most puerh on the market come in pressed form but there is also loose leaf puerh.  “Raw” puerh brews a milder cup with yellow-golden hues.  “Ripe” puerh undergoes a fermentation process in which microbial activity changes the composition of the tea and yields a dark, sinister tasting cup.  That’s what dad drank!

Like scotch and whiskey, aged puerh is more expensive the longer it’s been stored.  People drink puerh religiously to reduce choloesterol.  English packaging says drinking puerh quickens recovery from fatique and intoxication.  Ah, hang over remedy…ancient Chinese secret.

Uji-cha & Tea Pairing

I recently visited Uji City in Kyoto Prefecture to learn about their style of tea making.  My sensei or teacher is Tsuyoshi Sugimoto, 14th generation owner and tea master of Shohokuen Tea Company.  Shohokuen is the largest matcha producer and tea wholesaler in Kyoto Prefecture.


Uji is famous for producing gyokuro and matcha, two of the highest forms of Japanese tea.  Uji-cha uses shade to produce a unique flavor in the tea which is referred to as umami, the 5th flavor reminiscent of seaweed or soy sauce.

L to R: sencha and gyokuro

L to R: sencha and gyokuro

Japanese pair tea with food like it’s an art form.  Here sencha is paired with ume flavored mochi filled with sweet white bean paste called shiro an.

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Matcha or green tea powder makes a thick, strong “bowl” of tea which is traditionally served with a sweet side dish.  Here matcha is paired with a baked pastry called manju with sweet azuki bean filling.

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