Hawaiian Hotel Serving Up Rare Tea Harvested From the Slopes of a Sacred 10,000-Foot Volcano

Courtesy Halekulani

The islands have a long history with tea.

Departures is published by Meredith Corp. and owned by American Express. While American Express Card Member benefits are highlighted in this publication, including through the links indicated below, the content of this article was independently written by the editorial staff at Meredith. Other Departures content paid for by American Express is explicitly marked as such.

At Halekulani, the iconic Hawaiian hotel nestled on the shores of Oahu and an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, taking Afternoon Tea on the main building’s Veranda or at the oceanfront Orchids restaurant has long been a favorite pastime for guests and locals. But the luxury property just decided to kick the experience up a notch by serving a rare, award-winning tea that is only ever available in limited qualities.

What makes it so unique? Well, Haleakalā tea is harvested on the slopes of Haleakalā, a massive 10,000-foot shield volcano on Maui. Then it’s processed entirely by hand with accents of dried banana and honey to offer a sweet taste. Grown by Maui Tea Farm, only a few pounds of Haleakala tea are brought to market each month, making it one of the rarest teas in the world. Plus, the tea is the first to come out of a USDA grant to propagate tea around the state.

Courtesy Halekulani

While many may associate tea as a tradition to emerge from England, it was actually Asia that has a centuries-old history with the complex process of growing, cultivating, and enjoying tea. Studied by many for years, the art of chado, or “the way of tea” in Japanese, spread to the locals of Hawaii. They learned that their unique climate and location provide special soil for farming a variety of tea leaves with a distinct Hawaiian taste.

Bettie Grace Miner/Courtesy Halekulani

Now, guests of Halekulani will be among the first to experience Haleakalā Tea, which is offered exclusively at Halekulani’s Orchids restaurant in Honolulu. The unique afternoon tea is an $8 premium charge given its exclusivity to the hotel. So, if you order the Classic Afternoon Tea, which is $44, it would be $52 with a pot of Haleakala. Of course, that’s complemented by freshly-baked cakes and pastries. Guests can also choose from Champagne Afternoon Tea or Celebratory Afternoon Tea.