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Since this post was published in May of 2018, we are grateful to report that the eruption stopped on September 4, 2018. Our community on the Big Island of Hawai`i is still recovering from the loss of entire communities in the Puna area, the resources spent in the emergency efforts, and the hit to the tourism industry. We thank everyone for their work and support throughout the eruption and ongoing recovery efforts.


If you have been keeping up with the latest news on the Island of Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano, you know that there is an active lava flow happening here on the Big Island. Our prayers go out to 2,000 residents displaced by this eruption and those whose homes have been taken. We have a drop box in our Kona café where you can donate non-perishable items that will assist those affected in the Puna district. If you are looking to help we recommend you look to a notable institution that seeks donations of time, money, or items.  Hawaii is one big Ohana and this event is felt by us all.

Since May 3, 2018 lava has covered more than 1,700 acres and destroyed about 50 structures in the Puna district.


With volcanic vog in the air here and allergy season upon all of us, we wanted to take a closer look at Mamaki, a native Hawaiian plant that has been known for its traditional healing properties. Only found in the Hawaiian Islands, it has been used to help cope with seasonal allergies and symptoms related to vog, when the leaves are dried and made into tea.

A close-up view of a Mamaki leaf shows the bright red veins. PHOTO: Tea Chest


A Mamaki plant in bloom. PHOTO: TEA CHEST

Mamaki (Pipturus albidus), is a member of the nettle family, endemic to and currently only growing in the Hawaiian islands. The plant can be small and shrub-like or a large tree. It is typically found, in the wild, in the understory of the wet forest, on all islands except for Kahoolawe and Niihau. The broad leaves span from light green to deep emerald, some with red veins, most common in the varietal used for tea. With no distinct flowering season, when Mamaki does flower, they are small, light green and white, and emerge in clusters directly on stems of leaves. The small fruit resembles a white raspberry with a light subtle sweetness and not much taste.

Mamaki has an established reputation throughout Hawaiian history. Traditionally used as a universal tonic, asprin, and red clothing dye. Some of the primary uses of mamaki leaves for health are for cleansing, detox, and to combat symptoms of fatigue. People who brew and drink the mamaki leaves as a tea regularly have also described it as uplifting and strengthening.


Brewed Mamaki tea is a rich red hue.

Though there are only limited scientific studies into the benefits of mamaki, recent studies done by the University of Hawaii found Mamaki tea has significant levels of total and specific antioxidants. Research shows the three major polyphenols (phyto-chemicals) in mamaki leaves are:  

  1. Catechins are a type of antioxidant commonly found in red wine, chocolate, berries, and apples

  2. Chlorogenic acid is an antioxidant. commonly found in root vegetables such as carrots, radishes, turnips, and burdock

  3. Rutin is a flavonoid (plant compound) in the polyphenol family. Rutin is commonly found in red wine, buckwheat, citrus, and tomato skin

We carry Mamaki mint and Mamaki coffee cherry ginger tea in our cafe and online. Our teas are sourced from local, trusted vendors who grow, care for and harvest their crops with aloha, as we do with our coffee. After steeping for ten minutes, Mamaki tea can be enjoyed either hot or cold.  We hope a cup of Mamaki tea can help you with allergy season, vog symptoms, or just provide a healthy drink to start your day.

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CONTRIBUTOR: Mike 'EmJay' Cubbage

WHEN I'M NOT WRITING, I LIKE TO:  Read - I usually read two to three books at time. One for entertainment, one for education and one for inspiration.

I've been involved in the coffee industry for about 16 years. I've been a barista for many years, then a trainer and consultant. I am big on sharing relevant knowledge that will help coffee lovers have the optimal coffee experience. Working with The Kona Coffee and Tea Company is like a dream come true. I can't say how rewarding it is to work with such a great product from seed to cup. From the very beginning, being part of the team here, I've felt like family and have been treated like family. The spirit of Aloha is strong as is their dedication to community and quality.

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