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Teas of Hawaii

Herbal tea made from the dried fruit of the coffee plant is a Molokai product that’s spread its wings over the past two years. Originally produced by Coffees of Hawaii (COH) in Kualapu`u, the business has now been sold as Teas of Hawaii to COH employee Jessie Ford, who initiated the product’s development on Molokai.

“Tea is a passion and has been a dream of mine since I discovered it in my early days of college. I am very excited for this new company and adventure,” said Ford in a COH press release last week.

“Even though the product was beginning to take momentum, the market and sales were slower than originally anticipated. The company was then at a cross-roads to either continue the [tea] venture or to sell it,” said COH Operations Manager, Maria Holmes, in the release.

The coffee cherry tea with blended local herbs carefully selected by Ford was launched onto an international stage at a food show in San Francisco shortly after the product was released. Since then, the tisane (meaning an herbal infusion) has grown in popularity, especially in Hawaii. Ford said in the past year, improvements in product development and processing will make it easier to meet increasing demands. 

“[There’s a] readiness in general market for this type of product – it’s taken a lot to break the barrier of understanding what it is,” Ford said. 

A Healthful Cup

Packed with antioxidants and containing less caffeine than a cup of decaffeinated coffee, the dried cherry is blended with flavorful herbs for a unique and healthful treat.

Ford has high hopes for the business. She said she wants to explore the cultural aspect of tea cultures that have taken root in Hawaii – such as Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese and even Filipino. 

“A lot of cultures have… tea traditions and ceremonies,” she said. “I’d like to utilize tea to explore different cultures and even mythology… there’s an aesthetic that surrounds the atmosphere of consuming tea.”

Ford also has health in mind when she thinks of tea. 

“Tea is inherently a wellness beverage and that is very important to me to influence the health of other people and aid in lifestyle and health,” she explained. “Our culture and world needs as much of that as possible.”

Including both medical and cultural education in a presentation that is simple and informative is important to Ford in her products’ marketing as a “consumer awareness mechanism.”

“When people have the information available to them, they will often make good decisions for themselves,” she said.  

Ford said she plans to keep the coffee cherry-based tea, along with adding Hawaiian-based herbal teas and “true teas” (green, black and white teas) to Teas of Hawaii’s offerings. 

“Jessie is a very thorough, creative and masterful blender. She knows her product inside and out…” said COH owner, Albert Boyce in the release. “We are extremely pleased that she has agreed to take Teas of Hawaii to the next level. We are going to continue to provide her with a platform for success by offering her our approved manufacturing facility and processing equipment.”

In researching the cultural side of tea, Ford asks that anyone with particular knowledge of Molokai plants with medicinal properties contact her. Email her at Jessie@teasofhawaii.com or stop by COH in Kualapu`u to find her.  

“Tea is such a great conversation starter,” she said.

Photo by Hector Wong.

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