On a last minute whim, I decided to plan a trip to a local tea farm. Even though we are primarily tea drinkers, my husband and I really had no idea how tea is made so we were curious about the process.
Initially we were looking to book with Mauna Kea Tea Company however they were not available for tours. They suggested Onomea Tea as an alternative location and we are so glad they did.
We combined a trip to this area with the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens where the garden trails lead you to Onomea Bay. Actually, Onomea Tea Company grounds provide you with an even better view of the bay at a higher elevation. On the day of our visit, we could see the whales jumping out the water as we enjoyed our tea on their beautiful balcony.
As we drove into the property, we were greeted by a exceptionally friendly ambassador, Roscoe. He is a friendly yet gentle dog who loves visitors. Rob and Mike came down to welcome us to their lovely property.
Rob gave us a highly informative tour of their tea making process. I was impressed by their organic sustainable model of tea production from the planting of seed/cuttings to processing the leaves to make their green, oolong and black tea.
As an experienced tea drinker, the quality of their tea is exceptional. Mike serves their tea in the traditional Chinese tea ceremony fashion (kung-fu cha) and you can taste the tea during the various stages of steeping. You can appreciate the distinct aromas that come from the different methods of processing even though the tea itself is from the exact same plant. We were able to sample their green, oolong and black teas - each with their own characteristic and flavor. You can see that only the whole tips of the plants are harvested (by hand!) which is a testament to what a labor of love this is. I came to appreciate not only the science but the art of tea making.
Rob's freshly made scones are possibly one of the best things you will ever eat. I've had high tea at the Pennisula, Mandarin Oriental in various cities and his scones beat them all - hands down. (Another tour member wasn't able to eat gluten, but they were still able to accommodate his dietary needs with some beautiful fresh fruit.) Served with lilkoi (passion fruit which grows on their property) curd and a spectacular bay views, this was an afternoon tea like no other you will experience.
This was the best thing we did on the Big Island over a 5 day trip. I would highly recommend this tour. I was so happy I could bring their tea back home to remind me of the wonderful afternoon on the Big Island. I can't wait to come back here again.
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