Diversified Agriculture in Hawai’i

Cacao and new tea farmer Melanie Boudar of Sweet Paradise Chocolates on Maui

Cacao and new tea farmer Melanie Boudar of Sweet Paradise Chocolates

There are many diversified ag farmers around the state growing all sorts of crops from staples to exotics.  Diversified ag plays an important role in our economy.  The collective effort of these growers increase our state’s nutrition pool, food security and value-added crop production.  I always learn something and leave humble after visiting a farm like this one on Maui.  And tea is right there in the mix!

From the Land of Blue Sapphires

Sri Lanka

Besides tea, Sri Lanka is also known for the blue sapphires that come out of the hills of the Ratnapurna District.  The area is densely forested with abundant rainfall.  In fact, the island’s only tropical rainforest, the Sinharaja, lies nearby.

The abundant sunlight and rain in the region make for outstanding growing conditions  for Ceylon Silver Tips.  The air is cool and crisp.  At high elevation, the bushes flush more slowly allowing nutrients in the plants to build within the leaves making for a tastier cup.  This tea consistently fetches high prices at the Colombo auctions.

You immediately notice its attractive curl is unlike any other black tea.  Smaller production runs combined with superior cultivation and processing techniques have allowed the silver tips to be generously preserved and mixed in with the short-spindle black leaves.

The dark amber infusion, like dark ale, is as equally charming. The tea’s complex taste is a melange of honey and fruit.  This full-bodied cup is impressively smooth despite the dark brew.  Its strength equals any breakfast blend.  However, this impeccable offering stands alone as a bonafide self-drinker.

A Cup of Heart Health


“There doesn’t seem to be a downside to tea,” says American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD, LD in a WebMD article on the virutes of the leaf. “I think it’s a great alternative to coffee drinking. First, tea has less caffeine. It’s pretty well established that the compounds in tea – their flavonoids – are good for the heart and may reduce cancer.”

Celebrate National Heart Health Month with us as we explore the health benefits of tea drinking.

Here’s what some studies have found about the potential health benefits of tea:

  • Green tea: Made with steamed tea leaves, it has a high concentration of EGCG and has been widely studied. Green tea’s antioxidants may interfere with the growth of bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers; prevent clogging of the arteries, burn fat, counteract oxidative stress on the brain, reduce risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, reduce risk of stroke, and improve cholesterol levels.
  • Black tea: Made with fermented tea leaves, black tea has the highest caffeine content and forms the basis for flavored teas like chai, along with some instant teas. Studies have shown that black tea may protect lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke. It also may reduce the risk of stroke.
  • White tea: Uncured and unfermented. One study showed that white tea has the most potent anticancer properties compared to more processed teas.
  • Oolong tea: In an animal study, those given antioxidants from oolong tea were found to have lower bad cholesterol levels. One variety of oolong, Wuyi, is heavily marketed as a weight loss supplement, but science hasn’t backed the claims.
  • Pu-erh tea: Made from fermented and aged leaves. Considered a black tea, its leaves are pressed into cakes. One animal study showed that animals given pu-erh had less weight gain and reduced LDL cholesterol.