Home grown Mamaki

Personally, I’ve always preferred coffee over tea. Coffee has been a part of my life since I was a baby. I grew up with the smell of folgers in the old Mr. Coffee wafting through our childhood home as mom got ready for work. There were never many tea drinkers around, so it wasn’t until much later in life that I discovered the world of teas and tisanes.

To me it was always just “leaves in hot water” so it never really appealed to me. (But by that rationale, coffee is just “beans in hot water”. Child logic is unreliable.)

After working as a barista for a few years, I gained a much better understanding of the broad world of tea, the nuanced flavor palate and culture surrounding the ancient drink. I’m by no means an expert, and coffee is still my drink of choice, but at least now I know theres way more out there than Liptons pouches and Arizona Iced Tea.

Enter, Mamaki:

A local tea (tisane, rather) that breaks all the rules of standard tea brewing.

Mamaki is treasured as a sacred plant and has been used for generations in Hawaii for its health benefits. A study by the University of Hawaii in 2007 supports this with the discovery of three powerful antioxidants that are foind in the mamaki plant; Catechins, Chlorogenic Acid and Rutin.

The dark green leaves have prominent red veins. When brewed the tea takes on a similar shade. Unlike most teas, Mamaki gets better (not bitter) the longer you brew it and takes on more coloration. A quick 5-10 minute brew will yield a light tan tea, while a 40+ minute steep time (Yes… 40min) will give you a cranberry red tea.

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I’ve had Mamaki a couple of times and rather enjoyed the experience. This year I am growing some myself, and just got around to drying and brewing my first small batch. Sun drying the leaves takes a couple of days in the climate we have up here, but patience is absolutely rewarded.

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Have you ever tried Mamaki tea?

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