Wai Tisane from PONOinfusions

PONO_LooseLeafTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Herbal/Fruit Tisane

Where to Buy:  PONOinfusions

Tea Description:

Wai will refresh you with a tranquil infusion of herbs & botanicals, inspired by breathtaking waterfalls, streams, and fresh water pools, all preciously vital to life in Hawai’i.  Made from certified organic and fair trade ingredients and caffeine-free, Wai immerses you in a marriage of mint & berry.  Wai means fresh water in Hawaiian—a precious resource in Hawai’i’s fragile ecosystems.

To learn more about efforts to conserve wai and the native plants & animals who call Hawai’i’s wai home, such as the endangered pinapinao (Hawaiian damselfly) and the uluhe fern featured on this package, please visit the Native Flora & Fauna section of our website.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

PONOinfusions is a company I only very recently discovered. So far, I love everything about them from their use of organic and fair trade certified ingredients to the incorporation of Hawaiian ingredients in their blends, creative themes to their teas, incorporation of Hawaiian culture and most importantly the strong emphasis on the fauna and flora in Hawaii which are endangered or at risk. On each tin you can see some of these species highlighted in the packaging, and a portion of their sales go to support working to sustain and preserve Hawaii’s natural resources and plant and wildlife.

As described on their site, ‘pono’ means ‘the right thing to do’ and my first impression here is that Alex and Andrea are certainly doing their best to do that for Hawaii! I am very excited to get my first taste of one of their blends.

PONOpackageThe tisane I’m trying today (and not all of the teas in their line are tisanes) is called “Wai” which means fresh water, and the feature fauna and flora on their package’s design are the Hawaiian damselfly and uluhe fern. As I taste this for the first time, I’m definitely keeping the intended ‘theme’ in mind and will be seeing how the flavour compares to it.

My first impression of the taste is that it’s very familiar in a really comforting way. Breaking down the flavours I can see why; a lot of the ingredients are ones I like a great deal individually and they’re working very well combined. The body of the flavour of comprised mostly of the mint in the blend. I know this uses both peppermint and spearmint, but the spearmint is definitely more of a dominant/concentrated flavour than the peppermint is. Layered under that is the raspberry. It’s not raspberry in a really obvious way; but a gentle, subtle soft hint of raspberry that provides contrast from the mint. The nettle leaf is a little earthy and unrefined, it seems to roll in and out of sips as a flavour that I’m noticing. Finally there’s a floral aspect that finishes the sip. It reminds me of a mild jasmine though as far as I’m aware there isn’t actually any jasmine or floral ingredients in the blend.

While none of these ingredients individually make me think of fresh water there’s something about the way they interact with each other that’s very calming and tranquil and reminds me of seafoam, and skinny dipping with friends in the middle of July as the sunsets. Additionally, I remember reading a poem not too long ago that compared the ocean to a womb, first and foremost giving life and that’s the kind of feeling I get from drinking this tea. I want warm waves to wash over and cradle me.

Overall, I really like the overall taste of this tisane but more importantly I love the way it makes me feel. I haven’t been this excited about a newly discovered company in a really long time, and I’m excited to hopefully try more of their blends (in particular I’m hoping I get to try Nahele) and I very, very much recommend checking out their website! Definitely a cool company, and I think they deserve a little more attention.

Flower of Hawaii Black from Tea Gschwendner

FlowerofHawaiiTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Tea Gschwendner

Tea Description:

Mouth-watering pineapple and succulent apricot bloom into a sweet reminder of the Islands. Mahalo.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

So this was a blind tasting; meaning I didn’t look up anything about this tea prior to trying it. However, I definitely had major expectations for pineapple – even though I didn’t see anything but somewhat non-descript candied fruit pieces in the dry leaf whenever you hear “Hawaii” in a teas name pineapple is pretty well always the ‘go to’ assumption, am I right? Also, this was a cold brew because it definitely smelled very fruity and tropical and those are definitely the kind of flavours that lend themselves well to drinking cold.

Pineapple actually is the first flavour I taste; a very tropical, sweet pineapple without a lot of natural tang to it. I’m a pineapple fiend, so of course I’m craving much more pineapple flavor though the level it’s at is pretty good given it’s the more dominant flavor. It’s accompanied by a secondary fruit flavour but I’m struggling to identify it. It’s definitely not as distinct as the pineapple is. Mango maybe? The flavor of the base is about even to the flavour of the fruit. Overall this is a relatively juicy and very summery, but other wise not overly complex or nuanced. I think I’d appreciate a few more ingredients to add some more layers to the flavour. Dare I say it, coconut would probably go well or something floral like rose.

Also, since finishing I’ve looked up the ingredients and the secondary fruit flavor was apricot – looking back in hindsight I really don’t think that it tasted anything like apricot and I’m definitely sticking with my impression that the fruit notes were much more similar to a, perhaps over ripe, mango.

Apart from not being terribly spot on with the apricot flavouring, this is a pretty solid blend!


Hawaiian Volcano Green Tea from Canton Tea Co.


Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Canton Tea Co.

Tea Description:

Our first Hawaii-grown tea was a revelation to us all – bursting with juicy watermelon and cucumber tastes, this has stood our as a firm favourite of all teas featured in the club.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I love tasting teas that have been grown in the United States, like this Hawaiian Volcano Green Tea from Canton Tea Co.  This tea was actually part of their Tea Tasting Club, sent to me by one of the club’s members.  I’m loving this tea so much that I’m considering joining the club!

This is really quite a delicious green tea – and quite unique in taste from the typical green teas that are out there.  This has a lovely juicy taste to it, sweet and fruity … and quite like the above description suggests, I can taste notes that are reminiscent to cucumber and watermelon.  It’s very refreshing and thirst-quenching!

It has a delicate quality to it, it isn’t an overly strong or brothy type of green tea.  The thing that stands out most profoundly to me is that instead of the typical grassy or vegetative taste that one might experience with a green tea, this has more of a fruit note to it. Oh, sure, there are notes of vegetation in there too.  It is barely astringent, and not at all bitter.  Just sweet and juicy and absolutely delicious!

Served hot, the tea tastes a little thin … but allow it to cool just a few minutes (maybe three or four minutes – still hot, but not piping hot!) and the flavor and body really develops nicely!  Your patience will definitely be rewarded with this tea if you give it some time to cool to drinking temperature.

I can see why this has been a favorite tea from the Tea Tasting Club!  It is really a delightful selection!

Hawaiian-Grown Oolong Tea from Samovar

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Samovar

Tea Description:

Because it was grown and processed in Hawaii, this oolong’s flavor profile is a singular experience. The leaves are young, artfully consistent and vibrantly colored with slightly oxidized edges. They brew into a sophisticated, delicate, pale yellow-green infusion.  The flavor of the brew is elusive and complex. It’s somewhat reminiscent of a Baochong oolong, but less fruity. It has some of the grassiness of a sencha, but it’s not brothy. It’s flinty, crisp, smooth and cooling, with mild, tropical notes of green papaya. Fleeting hints of pine, evergreen, Kahili ginger flowers (which are locally abundant) and honey add to the complexity of this enticing brew.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Amazing!  I absolutely am loving the Hawaiian-grown teas.  They truly are unique.

I can indeed taste the influence that the tropical climate and surroundings have had on these leaves.  I can absolutely taste the papaya and the woodsy tones, as well as the floral notes.  It has a delectable sweetness that is quite honey-like.

The sip starts with sweetness, honey undertones and a hint of woody spice (cinnamon?) … but just a hint.  Just enough to make my taste buds say “whoa, what was that?”  and then it’s gone just as quickly as it presented itself.  Throughout the sip, there is a floral overtone, with hints of papaya where notes of peach would probably be if this were another Oolong.  Sweet and even a little sour, but nothing that overwhelms the palate.

The mouthfeel is smooth and supple, with a buttery-like quality.  In subsequent infusions, I notice that the mouthfeel becomes lighter, and the silkiness subsides.  The sip ends cleanly, with a hint of lingering sweet, flowery notes.

Truly a worthwhile experience to anyone who enjoys Oolong teas.

Mauka Oolong Tea (Hawaiian Grown) from KTeas

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  KTeas

Product Description:

Single-Estate tea: Volcano Tea Garden – Farm Collective; Growing elevation: 3600′, Volcano Village, Hawaii USA

Artfully consistent leaves are vibrantly colored with slightly oxidized edges. Elusive and complex flavor in the cup with a sophisticated, delicate, pale yellow infusion.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

One of the things I love most about Oolong teas is that I’m always surprised by them.  Just when I think I might know what to expect from an Oolong, something like this Mauka Oolong from KTeas comes along and surprises me with it’s unique flavor profile, and it is quite unlike anything I’ve tried before.

I steeped this in my gaiwan, using short steep times to extract multiple infusions.  My first cup – the combined result of the first and second infusions – was intensely flavored.  There was a pungent fruit note that was both sweet and sour.  I could also taste a resinous pine flavor.  The flavor was very crisp and almost sharp, but not in an off-putting way.  It was very intriguing, and like I said previously, it was quite unlike any Oolong I had tasted before.

The second cup (infusions three and four) had become smoother, and I noticed that the sweet and sour fruit flavor that I tasted before was still present, although the sweet and sour tones had mellowed and sort of morphed into a unified flavor.  Still sweet and still sour, but, more seamless this time.  The resinous pine note has dissipated, and has been replaced with a woodier note.

The third cup (infusions five and six) is smoother still, with a honey-esque sweetness emerging that I had not experienced in the first and second cup.  That sweetness has washed over the aforementioned sour notes and softened them.  There is a crispness to this cup, but not so much a sharp note as before.  Everything is softer … silkier.  As I near the end of the cup, I begin to recognize notes of papaya.

An interesting Oolong, indeed.  If you love Oolong, you must try this one!  You’ll be happy you did.