Tasting Hawaii

Meet the entrepreneurs behind the Aloha State's budding industry, agritourism, and bring an appetite!

Tea plants in an experimental station on Eva Lee's farm
Leaving Kailua-Kona, we make the two-hour drive across cattle-grazing land - cattle constitute a $16 million industry in Hawaii - to the rural Hamakua coast, a former hub for sugar cane. After a night in the lush city of Hilo - it rains 280 days of the year here - we are off to the town of Volcano in the morning. Our ultimate destination is Tea Hawaii (teahawaii.com), which grows tea and offers tours and tastings. The directions to owner Eva Lee's farm instruct us to turn onto a one-lane road and drive several miles through rain forest, ignoring the NO OUTLET AND DEAD END signs. A clay pot and a red stone driveway are the indications that we've arrived. Introduced to Hawaii roughly eight years ago, tea is grown by 12 farmers on the Big Island. They also hope it may become a major new crop for the state. For two years Lee has been giving tea tours out of her home by appointment and through Hawaii Community College. They are an important part of both her current income and her business's planned growth as a farm.

Nestled between lush forest and a bamboo-framed koi pond, Lee's home is a stunning blend of Chinese, Japanese and New England architecture. Designed by herself and ceramicist husband Chiu Leong, the home features an 875-square-foot central room with 22-foot ceilings and doors that slide open to the yard. There she serves visitors Hawaiian-grown tea in a traditional Chinese ceremony.

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Coffee, tea and - geckos The author tours Hawaii's farms, and sees some surprising sights. (more)
Raising 5 kids, 300 pounds of vanilla The Reddekopps are growing a big family and a profitable vanilla business in Hawaii. (more)
Getting buzzed in Hawaii Tasting different types of java on a coffee mill tour. (more)

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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.