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!

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A Cup of Heart Health

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“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

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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.

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.