Big Island Vacation, Episode III: Trivia Edition

As my friend Vanessa (Bonkers about Perfume) usually does it, here’s a disclaimer: this is not a perfume-related post. But you know what? If you read my “perfume” posts and are still around, I would bet that this one can’t be that much less interesting/useful.

This trip to Hawaii was quite educational, and I do not use it as a euphemism for something unpleasant. Quite literally, I learned many new and interesting trivia bits and had interesting experiences, mostly food-related, which now I plan to share with you.

Did you know that…

  • Between 1790 and 1870, sandalwood was a major part of Hawaii’s agricultural industry1. Too bad it’s not any more – it would have been interesting to compare it to sandalwood from other areas.
  • In the 1960s, Hawaii was responsible for 80% of the world’s pineapple. Today, Hawaii produces only 2% of the world’s pineapple. But 90% of the world’s macadamia nuts are still produced there [1].

Big Island Macadamia Nuts

  • Peaberry coffee (oval, pea-shaped coffee beans) is not a special coffee variety but rather a rare (about 5%) mutation produced by regular coffee trees.
  • Roasted coffee beans are bigger than green ones [2].

Big Island Roasted Coffee

  • Passion fruit is a vine.

Passion Fruit

  • Strawberry guava is considered the most invasive plant in Hawaii [3].

Big Island Strawberry Guava

  • Left not picked, a tea bush can grow higher than the tallest person.
  • Both green and black tea are grown on the same bush but, counter-intuitively, green tea is “cooked” (leaves are heated in a special appliance, shown below, to stop the oxidation), while black – isn’t [4].

Big Island Tea Roasting Machine

During this trip I’ve seen for the first time:

  • Tea flowers and tea seeds: you can propagate tea by either cuttings or seeds [4]. Tea flowers look beautiful both in rain and on a sunny day.
  • Growing vanilla: it looks like green beans!

Big Island Vanilla

  • Cinnamon tree: I didn’t realize before that it’s made from the bark is harvested from a live tree [4].

Big Island Sinnamon Tree

We experienced:

  • Mead from local honey infused with local tea: it tastes great on a hot day.

Big Island Tea Infused Mead

  • Chinese tea ceremony during which I smelled strong floral scent of one of the black teas: it wasn’t an imaginary or pretend-I-know-what-you-mean scent as it happens sometimes with wine tasting but it actually smelled of flowers [4].

Big Island Chinese Tea Ceremony

  • Freshly baked homemade scones with passion fruit curd: we were treated to these in the end of the tea ceremony, and they were so tasty that I started contemplating making them at home.

Scone and passion fruit curd

  • Hot and sunny mornings, perfect tropical rains and the most beautiful sunsets – and all that within an hour-drive distance

 

1 Source https://www.to-hawaii.com/agriculture.php

2 From our visit to Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation that offers free coffee farm tours lead by enthusiastic staff members, sampling of coffee and other products in their shop, as well as inexpensive nature walks.

3 Wikipedia

4 From the private tour in Onomea Tea Company – three-hour event that included the tour and tea ceremony. It was probably the best experience of this type in my life, so I would highly recommend it.

 

Images: my own

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33 thoughts on “Big Island Vacation, Episode III: Trivia Edition

  1. LOVE IT!! And obviously I heartily approve of going off-topic. The mutant coffee was a particular highlight.

    And now I want to know what happened to the pineapple industry. I do know – my mother taught me – that to test the ripeness of one you pull a leaf out, and if it comes away without a fight, it’s ready.

    And I am now yearning for passion fruit curd!

    • I was also curious about how they’ve managed to loose that pineapple monopoly. The agriculture website that I mentioned in the footnotes says that there are other, cheaper places to grow pineapples now, which isn’t surprising.

  2. I enjoyed this off topic as well.
    Eden Botanicals sells a Hawaiian Sandalwood if you are ever interested in sampling it.
    Funny to see the vanilla beans…usually the ones I use are brown and shriveled up :)

  3. Fantastic post, Undina. I would have also loved the tea ceremony and tour. I learnt a few things too. It’s great that you can still discover new things about a place you’ve been visiting for a while. Homemade scones are one of my favourite things. Can’t believe I didn’t experience Portia’s while I was out in Australia!

    • OK… It’ll be my early New Year resolution: to learn to make scones :)
      That visit to the tea plantation was something really special! There were four of us, and we saw and learned so many interesting things there. And tea was very-very good… well, at least when we had it there: I still haven’t tried it at home (we bought some).
      One of the anecdotal stories we heard from the guys, was that Harrods buys their tea and sells under their own brand as Hawaiian tea.

  4. Enjoyable post, Undina. Feel free to go off-piste, we all seem to share many interests apart from perfume.
    I used to grow a wide variety of orchids years ago. One of them was the vanilla orchid. It was a vine, took up far too much space but was well worth it when the vanilla pods finally appeared.
    I recently read someone’s observations that the air in Hawaii is quite literally perfumed with the abundance of flowering vegetation. Fact? Or Fanciful imagination?

    • Thank you, marcellavmiller.

      As much as I love Hawaii, I cannot say I noticed any floral components in the air. Ocean smell – check. Watered grass and earth and chlorinated pools in the areas around large hotels – check. But no floral scents.Though maybe I’m visiting “off-season” so to speak (we always go there late in September)?

    • It was amazing! If you go there, consider making a reservation for the tour. Also, in the post from my previous visit to that island (there’s a link to it in the “Related” section) I gave a link to the botanical garden/coffee farm that we enjoyed visiting. I’m glad to report that it’s still there and still good.

    • Thank you, Caitlin. Both – tea flowers and vanilla – were surprises for me: some how I never thought of tea having a blossom or how vanilla looks before getting all dry and brown.

  5. I’m sure I would have loved a tour of that tea plantation! It’s fascinating how many nuances you can find in tea.

    I don’t know why I thought macadamia nuts are mainly grown in Australia. Well, now I know better.

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