As we walked through the Tea Hawaii farm on the Big Island last Sunday, Chiu plucked two leaves and a bud from a tea plant. We ate it raw, so sweet. I thought it was my first time trying their tea leaves fresh…but I was wrong.
Let’s backtrack to a dinner nearly three years ago in NYC.
Remember this six-course tea feast at In Pursuit of Tea? The first course featured tempura tea leaves (fresh tea leaves dipped in a honey batter and deep-fried). Guess where the tea leaves were flown in from just that morning? Hawai’i! I never found out exactly where in Hawai’i the tea leaves came from…
…until last Sunday, when I did a cupping with Eva and Chiu in their studio. Eva mentioned that they collaborated with Melanie Franks (who is now a chef at Amankora, the Aman property in Bhutan…let’s go! :) on a tea dinner in NYC years ago. And it turned out to be that very same dinner.
Eva was a dancer and Chiu a photographer. Together they created this stunning tea farm and ceramics studio deep in Volcano, Hawai’i. High ceilings, soft light, shoji doors, and this beautiful, soft air of tranquility.
They’re located on the summit of Kilauea Volcano where they harvest and process four types of tea (black, green, white, and oolong), plus mamaki (an herbal tisane) which is popular in Hawai’i. Pictured above is the Forest White which brews golden and sweet, very delicate. Chiu himself makes all the ceramics, a complete tea experience.
Here’s a look at the white tea leaves before steeping (we did five infusions).
What a magical place. Thank you, Eva and Chiu, for your kind hospitality :)