Although I’ve personally never been, I have it on good authority that Hawaii is utterly badass.
Their tea is no exception. Though quite the untried youth of the tea world, Hawaii always manages to impress. Their blacks and greens are quickly emerging as one of the States’ best agricultural products (it’s lucky tea isn’t dependent on bees to thrive). If i could afford the trip, I’d almost certainly plan my next Tea Excursion to Hawaii. Sadly even such domestic travel is beyond my current means.
Thanks to Arbor’s refreshing transparency I can tell you that Hawaii Premium Green is grown at 2,000 ft above sea level at Mauna Kea Tea Farm on the Hamakua Coast of Big Island. Seen above, Mauna Kea Tea Farm is easily one of the smallest I’ve ever reviewed a tea from. As with all Hawaii tea, Mauna Kea’s rich volcanic soil nurses a vibrant and unique plant. Mauna Kea uses the tried and tested Masanobu Fukuoka Natural permaculture method akin to modern Biodynamic farming (though from the image above, it’s frankly hard to imagine). If you have zero interest in learning about this fascinating farming method, I suggest you skip the next paragraph.
Despite his name Masanobu Fukuoka was born at the dawn of the Taisho in the remote, mountainous sea-side town of Iyo, Ehime, Japan. Though settled as far back as the Yayoi, Iyo only first became a city through village consolidation 2,000 years later in 1955 (it still only has a population of 38,000). Perhaps inspired by his “untouched” idle, Fukuoka was a microbiologist who, during his convalescence from pneumonia in 1937, had a transcendental spiritual awakening and quickly changed his views from modern Western agricultural methods, to an all-organism inclusive harmonious ecology. Fukuoka would later go on to develop (and promote through tours across the globe) a now famous method of non-intervention permaculture called “Natural Farming” or “Do-nothing Farming”. Natural Farming has five basic tenants: No human cultivation through plowing, tilling or the use of powered machines; fertilizing and prepared composting are unnecessary; only minimal, non-disruptive weeding is necessary; use of any herbicide or pesticide is unnecessary; pruning fruit trees is unnecessary.
I truly wish Japanese tea farmers had adopted his methods… but I digress.
In aroma, Hawaii Premium Green is very grassy with the subtlest hint of jasmine. Similar to a Mao Jian in tongue, a delicate almond flavor gives way to a sweeter aftertaste. Hawaii Premium Green also has a decent if buttery medium grit. Though similar to many Chinese Greens in content, its appearance offers a fresh twist: Hawaii Premium Green has a brilliant green-yellow liquor a shade or two darker than a jade. Additionally, the twisty shape and blue-green color of its loose leaf are all its own.
This Arbor Teas batch is most likely the 2016 first flush. Mauna Kea retails both this batch and the 2017 first flush on its own bilingual website.
- Aroma – 93
- Taste – 93
- Texture – 93
- Spunk – 94
- Rarity – 96
- Availability – 94
- Appearance – 94
- Organic/Fair trade – 95
Mean score – 94
The prevailing wisdom that organic farming yields duller, uninteresting teas by comparison finds a strong challenger in Hawaii Premium Green. Though likely not the best Hawaiian tea I’ve ever had, Hawaii Premium Green is certainly one of the best grown, with surprisingly strong distribution.