New document on Tea in Hawai’i

The full name of the document is “Specialty Crops for Pacific Island Agroforestry: Farm and Forestry Production and Marketing Profile for Tea (Camellia sinensis)”.  It’s online at agroforestry.net (or directly to the PDF).

I contributed a bit to the document, with some reviewing, an illustration of using ginger as a mulch, and some notes on economics.  I’m quite happy with the result, which in 32 pages manages to describe a great deal of what someone needs to know to grow tea in Hawai’i, and process and market it.  There’s also some eye-opening statistics about tea in the rest of the world, where the cost of production can be 50x less.

A lot of this information is hard to come by unless you have one of the tea textbooks (the spotty Hajra book from India, or the wildly expensive Willson book from the UK), so it’s great that much of the important knowledge is now online for free.

Meanwhile, our tea continues to grow with astonishingly well.  I am baffled by the textbooks which say tea should be “pruned back once every 3–4 years to a height that is comfortable for plucking.” Our tea only takes a few months to go from flat hedges to a wild, tall, profusion of growth.  If this keeps up, it will need serious pruning twice a year just to keep it harvestable.  Perhaps more frequent and aggressive plucking would help keep it under control, but there there are many other things on the farm (and building the new house) which distract from harvesting.  One thing is for sure: the conditions here are very, very good for tea.  The soil (just compost, biochar, & mulching) and wet Hamakua weather seem to be perfect.

4 thoughts on “New document on Tea in Hawai’i

  1. So nice to access this blog. It was just forwarded to my by Nancy at HIMGA because she knew I was wanting to know how to build the fire for biochar making. I really prefer your brick pit design to Josiah Hunt’s dirt pit one. Yours is tidier and requires less dirt cover… and the shoveling of it on and off. I suppose you are putting a metal plate over the pit… What kind? Corrogated alumninum wouldn’t last long.

    But, Nancy didn’t know that I also am a tea grower… well, a struggling one! I only have 200 plants in but, it’s been a real struggle these last 3 years. I’ve been using seedlings. They don’t easily re-root and take. I’ve tried both shaded nursery for 2 months in promix and direct in-ground planting. Once in the ground, weed cloth alone cause solarization and seedling death. Mulch on top of weed cloth keeps it cooler but, weeds start to begin again to be problem. Have used neem oil and copper sprays to control mites and fertilize with organic compounds only. My chick manure is also used in dry and tea form.

    Do you have comments and/or suggestions from any of this info?

    PS Where are you located on the Hamakua?

    Mahalo,
    Thais

  2. Hi Thais, i’m not certain what kind of metal the plate is, it’s just a piece of old corrugated roofing, it might be aluminum or galvanized steel. Seems to be holding up pretty well.
    As you can see in the title of the blog, our farm is in Ahualoa. 🙂 I presume you have been to the farm page at http://ahualoa.net/teafarm/ and tea notes at http://ahualoa.net/tea/ ?

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