Hawaiian Grown Tea

2015-11-11 12.26.46

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.

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.

Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearls

jasmine pearl tubes

Jasmine gives off an alluring, soothing scent.  Jasmine pikake flowers are often strung into fragrant leis and given on auspicious occasions like weddings, graduations and special performances.  I wonder if the Hawaiians picked up this practice from the Chinese?

Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearls were first commission by the Imperial Court during the Sung Dynasty as a gift to honored guests. This exotic treasure is hand crafted from young tender tea leaves and scented over 7 days. The scenting technique is so meticulously done that the flavor of this tea will last for 6-8 infusions. I will often take them on trips because this tea is so simple and convenient to use. Just add 5 or 6 pearls to a cup of hot water and enjoy.

Why Hawaiian Natural Tea is Unique

Mango Peach

Hawaiian Natural Tea, aka HNT, captures the “east meets west” fusion of flavors and cultures that define Hawaii as the melting pot of the Pacific.  Mango Peach, Passionfruit Orange and Pineapple Strawberry are tropical and western flavor combinations that work extremely well together.  The propreitary tea blends of green, black and white teas are lower in caffeine and higher in antioxidants compared to traditional black tea blends.  They are also less astringent than green tea only blends.   These blends offer a cup of tea that is much smoother and a more enjoyable tea experience.

Tap Root

Tap Root

This keiki tea plant has a great chance to grow and thrive because of the healthy tap root that has formed. These plants will be tranferred to pots and sit in a shade house until ready to transfer to the field.

From Farm to Cup

From Farm to Cup

These 20,000 keiki tea plants are heading to farms around the state. Sponsored by the State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture, this two year project sets out to start 20 new tea farms and double the number of acres in cultivation.  Big Island Tea oversees the project’s propagation.  Big Island Tea has been growing and making tea in Hawai’i for over ten years.  They were selected for the project because of their passion and expertise but also because they produce outstanding, world class tea.

Follow us on this journey, from farm to cup, for more ono-licious Hawaiian grown tea.

Milk May Strip Tea of Antioxidant Benefit

27 Sep 2012
World Tea News

BERLIN, Germany

Tea drinkers mainly seeking its many cardiovascular health benefits should keep milk from their brew…but don’t let it steal the joy you find in your cup.

European researchers, whose work was first published in The European Heart Journal, in October 2007, discovered that adding milk strips tea of some of its health benefits.

A study published this year looked at whether the effect was limited to dairy products. It was not: Proteins in soy milk had the same effect as regular milk on antioxidants in tea.

“Simultaneous ingestion of dietary proteins reduces the bioavailability of galloylated catechins from tea in humans,” researchers concluded. Participants added 10% milk by volume to black tea.

In the 2007 study researchers had 16 healthy adults drink cups of freshly brewed black tea, black tea mixed with a small amount of skim milk, or boiled water. Then the scientists measured the effects on vascular function.

Compared with water, black tea “significantly improved” arterial function, the researchers found, “whereas addition of milk completely blunted the effects of tea.”

The scientists repeated similar tests in mice and found the same results, which they speculated may be a result of proteins in milk binding to and neutralizing antioxidants.

“Milk,” the researchers wrote, “counteracts the favorable health effects of tea on vascular function.”

Source: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/17/really-adding-milk-to-tea-destroys-its-antioxidants/

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