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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Funding for Manufacturers

(LtoR)  Bernie Coleman, Pacific Allied Products, Governor David Ige and Byron Goo, The Tea Chest

(LtoR) Bernie Coleman, Pacific Allied Products, Governor David Ige and Byron Goo, The Tea Chest

Food manufacturing generates over $900 million in revenue annually and provides jobs for 6100 people in our state.  As President of the Hawaii Food Manufacturers Association, Byron Goo, CEO of The Tea Chest, had the opportunity to work on several initiatives to help companies for years to come.  One such initiative was the creation of a strategic investment fund that will help manufacturers upgrade factories, train workers and improve energy efficiency.

Iced Tea Cocktails

sydney n chef

Tea makes a great mixer with your favorite vodka, rum or whiskey.  Add some fruit juice and simple syrup to balance the alcohol and voila…a new party favorite!

Tea Cafe @ MW Restaurant

The Tea Chest ohana with Chef Wade Ueoka (far left) and Chef Michelle Karr Ueoka (far right)

Chef Wade Ueoka (far left) and Chef Michelle Karr Ueoka (far right)

We want to thank this dynamic culinary duo for collaborating on a tea themed pop up cafe.  There were many noteworthy firsts at the event.

Every menu item…savories, sweets and drinks…contained tea which was a first in Hawaii.  Chef Wade made 7 courses highlighted by the “B-L-TEA” of smoked duck breast with chiffonade of romaine and tomato gelee; Kona lobster Jasmine Dragon Pearls and Foie Gras Torchon with Assam FOP.  Chef Michelle created 6 desserts including Jasmine Matcha Mousse Napoleon, Makaha Mango “Pop Tart” on yuba pastry puff with lychee tea cheesecake and Maui Lavender Earl Grey tea cakes.

The drinks, crafted by Byron Goo, included a pair of lattes, cold and hot drinks plus some tantilizing iced tea cocktails.  Crowd favorites included the Mamaki Mojito and a blend of three teas called the “BMW” after “Byron, Michelle and Wade.”

Kilinoe & a'a

Teas in the Cloud pair of Hawaiian grown teas

Another first was a pair of small allocation Hawaiian grown teas, one green style tea and one black, from the Big Island Tea Company.  The two were served side-by-side for comparative cupping.  Leaves were plucked from plants growing at 3000′ in a mist shrouded ohia forest and made less than a month before the event.