The more I think about growing, processing and enjoying tea, the more my entreprenuerial brain starts to buzz... for those of you that know me... well, you know the drill.
I think even though there is a large learning curve, growing and processing tea, is probably easier to deal with than growing and processing coffee. I'm sure it's less investment capital. Also, tea does ok at all elevation in East Hawaii, but does really well in the wet higher cooler elevations... hmmm.... that's kinda what we're lookin at.
Interesting article on growing tea in Hawaii published in West Hawaii Today. http://westhawaiitoday.com/articles/2007/06/24/features/features02.prt
Totally weird, I had NO idea Tea was a type or variety of Camellia plant, Camellia sinensis, an evergreen bush. Similar to all those huge Camellia bushes/trees I have at the farm in WA. Tea bush however does not like cold weather and tends to be found in the tropics and much warmer locations. The new leaves are harvested and dried for the enjoyable beverage, it can also be used as an edible in stir-frys and steamed veggies. Once the plant is established, little is needed except pruning for new growth and to control shape and occasional feeding.
Well, ask and you shall receive!! I posted on PunaWeb about growing and processing tea, Dr. Weatherford responded with info leading me to this link http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/NPH-9.pdf A full guide to small scale tea growing and processing in Hawaii. COOL!
Also a link the a PW thread about growing tea
Tea farms dot the Big Island, small operations, some bigger. Until we can play with growing our own, we will search for our small tea farmer to support. I do have to say however, I'm not a big fan of any farm that charges $25 for a tour... makes purchasing their tea and getting to know your farmer too commercial and too expensive. Some of the Big Island tea companies are content staying small boutique tea operations, much like a very small winery, offering tastings, tours and teas - I like that. Here's some links
http://ahualoa.net/teafarm/ http://www.moonrisetea.com/ http://www.teahawaii.com/ http://www.bigislandtea.com/ http://www.onomeatea.com/ http://www.maunakeatea.com/
Lastly, here's the link to the Hawaii Tea Society, great info and resource. Think we are gonna join. http://hawaiiteasociety.org/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1
WAIT! Here's one more! http://ahualoa.net/tea/ a document titled "Tea Notes" maintained by Ben Disco of Ahualoa Tea Farm, packed full of info and resources and links... I'm thinkin I wish I would have found this before researching and typing all of the above! But it was good education.