In 2003 as proprietors Mike Longo and Rob Nunally were sipping a mug of Earl Grey tea and contemplating what crop might be best to maintain the agricultural history of their property overlooking Onomea Bay in Hawaii. Lightning flashed, there it was, right in our hands… TEA!
Mike had been a daylily hybridizer, and developed the online auction site www.daylily.com. Our original plan for this land was daylilies, hemerocalis, wonderful flowers that hybridize quickly and grow all over the world. However, daylilies don’t bloom consistantly here, a big problem for hybridizing so we started looking at other crop options.
That was the beginning, we didn’t know what tea was, what kind of plant and where it grew. A quick internet search and we discovered tea is camellia sinensis. Tea is a camellia. We learned that tea grows in subtropical environments and that tea plants were being offered from our local USDA office. Bingo, our agricultural adventure is launched. We started with seeds, 40 of them, round and brown, similar in appearance to a hazelnut. We placed the seeds in pots, and used our front steps for shade to protect the hopeful buds. After about a month plants appeared. Lovely plants, nice and green and healthy. Wow… this could work. We planted them in two rows near our citrus and banana trees. They grew beautifully, thriving our acidic well draining soil and bathing in the islands abundant rainfall. A few years later and we began picking tea and turning those waxy green leaves into the substance that is the number one beverage in the world, TEA! It wasn’t long before we were firing and rolling and coming up with a brew that was a respectable tea. Now with more than 3500 plants later we are growing, plucking, processing and marketing certified organic teas from one of the most beautiful places on the island.
Our tea is a blend of named varieties, Yabukita, Yutakamidori, Benikaori, Bohea, seedlings from India, and our own hybrids. Diversification is important in agriculture. We encourage plants that do well in our environment. Always considering those that grow best and provide the best flavors.
We believe in clean sustainable agriculture, minimizing inputs from outside our environment. We use our own composted materials in foliar sprays to enhance the microorganisms that benefit our soil, and helps our environment stay clean. We are certified organic from International Certification Services and feel organic is of the utmost importance in growing tea. Generally tea is not washed prior to processing, so if your tea has been sprayed with chemical pesticides or herbicides these can be what is ingested in a cup of tea. Organic farming methods eliminate that concern.