So it’s time to tell you my most exciting story of our trip to the Big Island of Hawaii.
(c) Melanie Pruitt 2013
It seemed a bit brighter when we came out and so we headed to the crater. We got some great pictures, saw the crater and wandered through the museum. However, by the time we were heading to the car it was starting to sprinkle again. We had planned on stopping and seeing the sites through the park, but by the time we walked around the steam vents, we were freezing cold, and very wet. We decided to call it a day.
You can see in the background, the line where lava has flowed recently and not
Pouring down rain at the steam vents
Wild Orchid near steam vents (c) Melanie Pruitt 2013
So we headed out to find some lunch. We decided to go to the town of Volcano and found a little place to eat. We brainstormed on other things we could do. I had read about some places on the Big Island that grow tea and I wanted to go on a tour of a tea growing estate. But I didn’t know how to find them. I had also read about the Volcano Winery. They have some unique wines including a guava wine and a honey macadamia wine. We had seen signs to it so we decided to go check it out.
It was a cute little place. As I walked around, I realized they had estate tea! They not only grow their own grapes for wine, but they grew tea!! I got to talking to one employee and she gave me a taste of their black tea. Then I met the owner, Marie. When she found out I really did know about tea, and even wrote reviews for Teaviews, she gave me a taste of their white tea! It was AMAZING!!
I think I “oooo’ed” and “ahhh’d” over it so much, and asked so many questions about the tea they grow, that she offered to give me a private tour! I was like a child in a candy shop… or a child on christmas morning! I tried really hard not to literally jump up and down, but I was on the inside!
Rows and rows of tea! (c) Melanie Pruitt 2013
This lava tube is eventually going to be a tasting room for Volcano Winery! (c) Bill Pruitt 2013
Admiring the tea! (c) Melanie Pruitt 2013
Their tea is grown at 4000 feet, in fields of lava. They have carved the rows out of the lava and brought in dirt. Their tea plants are imported from Japan and were gorgeous! I even got a demonstration of the picking process – both the white needles and the second leaf.
When we got back inside, she handed me a packet of their white tea to take home! Surely, she was a kindred spirit… I mean seriously…she has the same name as my first child, she loves her tea and she loves/lives on hawaii?
Click the picture to see the Volcano Winery website
The tea is as delicious here at home as it was on the island! Here’s a little bit of the review I wrote about it:
When I first opened the package, I could see the white needles blended with the second leaves. They are a beautiful soft green – the color indicating how fresh this tea is. The smell is strong and vegetal. The needles are softly silver with fine hairs. Mixed in with the needles are the darker, yet colorful, flat second leaves.
They suggest brewing it at 208 degrees, which is a little higher than I usually brew my white tea. I’m glad I listened to their recommendation. I used fresh cold water and brought it to 208 (don’t let it fully boil) and I steeped it for 3 minutes. It brews up a soft light golden, the color of a nice white wine. It has a slight fruity/leafy scent.
The flavor is definitely one of the best white teas I’ve ever had! It has a soft background of floral/herbal and peaches, along with the faintest hint of vanilla without being falsely sweet. It is very smooth with no bitterness or bite. I could drink this tea all day long! They have chosen to keep their teas pure, with no flavorings. I love that this white tea is naturally so flavorful and sweet.
I found that I can brew this tea 3-4 times easily. Each steep has a slightly different flavor focus, with the sweetness decreasing with steeps, and the floral/herbal tones moving forward.
I am so thankful that we got to see the volcano crater, but then had that cold misty leading us to Volcano Winery. I have finally walked through a real field of tea, touched the plants, heard about the processing and tasted the tea. A memory that will last forever… and when I go back to the Big Island, I’m sure I’ll be stopping by to say “Hi” to Marie!