Makai Black (Assam)

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Black Tea
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Edit tea info Last updated by sophistre
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205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 45 sec

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15 Tasting Notes View all

  • “Okay…so…I will also post this review under the Samovar Listing… I received this ROCKSTAR Tea from Auggy! Woot Woot!!!! I will agree with others in saying that this is – by far – a black tea of...” Read full tasting note
  • “A few thoughts on this tea: - 1 ounce is not enough. I should have gotten more but it is kind of expensive. Worth it, but the price kept me from getting the metric ton that I truly wanted. -...” Read full tasting note
  • “I can hold myself back no longer. I have to try this tea. I’m going to use Auggy’s time and temperature settings and see if I get rye bread to form in my cup. The leaves, as has been said, are...” Read full tasting note
  • “This stands apart from other black teas, and I think it’s the terroir & teamaster, being Hawaii-grown and handmade. The first thing I notice about the dry tea is the marvelous fresh scent....” Read full tasting note

From Tea Hawaii

Origin: Hawaii Island, Hawaii, USA,

Thanks to the emerging terroir of Hawaii, this black tea’s flavor profile is completely different from that of any other tea. It is tremendously clean, smooth and refined, with no astringency or bitterness even when brewed for long periods. High-quality leaves brew into a crystalline amber infusion. A thin, crisp body yields delicate notes of mugicha (roasted barley tea), caramel, barley malt and rice syrup, with a slight taste of roasted sweet potato. Each sip warms, refreshes and reveals new dimensions of flavor.

A man named John Cross cultivates it from tea plants that his father planted as an agricultural experiment 15 years ago. The soil is particularly suited to tea production, as it is both fertile and acidic. The plants are a Cambodian sinensis varietal, which is thought to be a hybrid of the small-leafed Chinese plants and the larger-leafed Assam varietals. John’s Hakalau Tea Garden is on the slopes of the now-dormant Mauna Kea Volcano. It is located at 900 feet above sea level, and you can see the Pacific Ocean while standing amongst the tea bushes. It is locally known as “Makai Black;” the word “Makai” is Hawaiian for “toward the ocean.”

John cultivates his plants and prepares them for harvest, and then fellow tea grower and processor Eva Lee of Tea Hawaii & Company harvests them, transports them to her farm and hand-processes them overnight with her husband (a potter who creates art for tea and a practitioner of the Japanese tea ceremony) and, sometimes, her daughter (an artist who lives abroad most of the year). Eva feels that Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. that is likely to be able to sustainably produce specialty tea. She said Hawaii’s air, soil and water are amongst the purest on earth. Tea growers in Hawaii do not face many of the environmental concerns of other tea-producing areas, such as typhoons and natural predators, so they can grow teas at lower elevations without facing the wrath of nature.

Eva Lee, teamaster of Tea Hawaii, belongs to a collective of local tea growers that has joined together to promote their products. Eva also processes an Hawaii-grown Forest White tea with leaves from Tea Hawaii Tea Garden and Mauka Oolong with leaves from Volcano Tea Garden. She sees her role as helping growers bring their teas to fruition and customizing teas to suit the needs of tea vendors and drinkers. Now is the ideal time to taste Hawaii-grown tea and provide feedback to suppliers and growers in order to shape the future of Hawaii-grown tea.

About Tea Hawaii View company

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15 Tasting Notes

6768 tasting notes

Okay…so…I will also post this review under the Samovar Listing…

I received this ROCKSTAR Tea from Auggy! Woot Woot!!!!

I will agree with others in saying that this is – by far – a black tea of it’s own! It’s in a completely different category! It’s wonderful BUT…it’s certainly NOT your stereotypical Black Tea!

The leaves are glorious! They are on the biggest leaves I have EVER SEENEVER! They are FAB! And SCREAMING for multiple infusions!!!! The very slight sweet smell of the tea is barely there and it’s a light and mellow yet pleasant and sweet and juicy taste. In a way I am thinking about ROCK CANDY from the 80s…you know…on the stick!? But I can also comprehend the Rye-Bread comparison made by a few others. The product description from the company says roasted sweet…when I first read that all I could say is “REALLY?” but the more I drink it the more it makes sense! I suppose as an after taste and after thought I can taste the caramel notes.


I just don’t know…there are some things that throw me for a loop – but in a good way!!! Trying to figure out HOW this tea is done so well and why more people haven’t tried it or even heard of it…just might have to be added to that list!

I’m going to infused the EVER-LIVIN’ out of these leaves…so stay tuned for the multiple infusion notes!

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

Yay! This log makes me cheer. :)


I am going to do the multiple infusion notes under this listing, Auggy, also my rating just might increase!!!!
ADDITIONAL NOTES…this is incredible CLEAN tasting. As it cools I am tasting a bit more roastiness to it…lol…


Okay…FINE…I gave in…I upped the rating…How could I resist!? I mean…this is so unique…so much in a class of it’s own…I can’t compare it to ANYTHING…so…there you have it folks!


I did something similar the first time I had it – I refused to rate it in case it was a fluke but it wasn’t!


I asked above where you bought this, but I see now that you got it from Auggy. Auggy… where did you buy this?

RachanaC (Rachel)-iHeartTeas

Need this one too :-)


Just in case you missed my response on the other one, buying information can be found here:

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911 tasting notes

A few thoughts on this tea:
- 1 ounce is not enough. I should have gotten more but it is kind of expensive. Worth it, but the price kept me from getting the metric ton that I truly wanted.
- These leaves seem fresher. This seems to make the richness of this tea more intense.
- And speaking of leaves, they are gorgeous. I’m not a big one for the visual side of tea, but these leaves are so huge and twisty and beautiful that I can’t help but appreciate them.
- I just don’t understand how something can be this dark tasting and still have such gorgeous sweet notes. It’s like rye bread made into syrup. Or brown rice. And the aftertaste is like I’ve been drinking syrup.
- I need to buy more of this. Maybe Tea Hawaii sells it by the pound. (And the husband won’t have a heart attack at spending that much on tea.)

I think 4 minutes is my happy spot for steeping this. At 3 minutes (which Tea Hawaii recommends), the lighter sweetness was hiding but at 4 minutes it comes out more. I’m not getting quite the super-grilled fruit notes because the sweetness is richer than that.

Anyway, my first steep (3 minutes) was more sweet rye bread but the second steep (4 minutes) had a little more balance. Actually, the second steep tastes like a first steep so I find that pretty awesome. No loss of flavor or strength.

The third steep (6 minutes) still seems a little milder, but there is more of the lighter sweetness than the rye bread sweetness so that could be what is giving that impression. Also, this third steep tastes a lot like the first steep from first time I tried this tea. Yay for fresh leaves!

I’ll try for a fourth steep in a bit – I drink this tea really quick and am starting to feel a wee bit caffeinated. To drink it so fast I think means that I really like this tea. But I kinda knew that.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

There’s a math problem for you: how long would it take Drinker X to imbibe one metric ton of Tea Y at a rate of 3 steeps per teaspoon interspersed with twice-daily variations of teas (A-X)? (Sophomore complaining that Algebra II has no bearing on his real life.)


Forget algebra! As long as I get to be Drinker X, I’ll solve this problem the old fashioned way – just timing myself while drinking through a metric ton!
Actually, don’t forget algebra. I use it to figure out proper g/oz amounts for things. Of course, that could be because I’m a dork…


Hmmm…a bad high school algebra teacher must be the reason I just eyeball my tea :o)


High school math can be sort of lame but just wait till you get to the fun stuff like Linear Algebra. :D Math can be so much fun if it’s taught right. And don’t get me started on books about math, those are the best… /math teacher

Also, Auggy, where do you get this? I would really love to try it but not much is coming up on the google.


It’s from Tea Hawaii which is a pretty low tech place. You can contact Eva at (their website ( has their email as but the all the things included in my order had it at gmail) and then you’d have to mail her a check and then she’ll mail out the tea. Pricing and shipping information is in the comments on this post (I posted it as I got info from Eva.)


Wow, that is impressively expensive. Still want to try it someday though, thanks for the info.

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2036 tasting notes

I can hold myself back no longer. I have to try this tea. I’m going to use Auggy’s time and temperature settings and see if I get rye bread to form in my cup.

The leaves, as has been said, are unbelievably, almost freakishly, long. I just had to take a ruler to them. Here’s the measurements on a random sample of 3 leaves. Understand that this is from end to end, and they twist and curve like climbing rose vines, so their actual length is longer.

1. 1.75 inches
2. 1.5 inches
3. 1.75 inches

They’re basically rake-able length leaves. Imagine that. Or maybe don’t. Wouldn’t want anyone inadvertantly to induce a catatonic state while contemplating such pure tea rapture.

They are a very dark green. Like a few shades closer to black than olive drab, and intensified. There are some amazing, silvery buds in there. The leaves have a patina that gives an impression of softness. Really gorgeous. A+ for the look of the dry leaves.

Their smell is toasty, roasty, nutty, green (!), fruity, sweet and there is even a coffee-like note in there. Fragrant, complex, deep. A+ for the smell of the dry leaves.

I’m steeping them in the Breville for 4 minutes at 205. It’s like watching grass grow. I can’t wait! It occurs to me that I may not have put in enough leaf. The Breville comes with its own scoop, which it suggests you use. However, the scoop doesn’t really accomodate leaves that are almost 2 inches long. So there was a lot of white space in there. I’ve decided that if I don’t get a terrific result this time I’m going to call a do over and use a scale measure instead before proceeding. I don’t want to short change this tea.

And the verdict is, I’m not sure. The liquor is very light in color, rather oolongy. I’m thinking that’s not how it’s supposed to be. So I’m going to do it over and make sure I use 3g per serving on the scale. Here goes.

Fascinating. I used 6g for 500ml this time. And I still get a liquor about the same color. This is the yellowest, most un-black-tea-colored black tea I’ve ever brewed! It’s not what I would describe as “crystalline amber” but it does reach amber, on the lighter end of the scale. Do I give it an F in liquor color for not being an example of its class, or an A+ for being different and interesting and true to its description? Pass for now.

The aroma is like the smell of the dry leaves writ small, plus it opens up to give a preview of what one might expect in the taste. I totally get the rye bread! I don’t know if I could have identified it that specifically on my own, but I get the unsweetened bready, grainy aroma (which could also be the barley identified in the description), and right at the beginning there’s a dry, almost sharp note that is very reminiscent of rye. And yet, there’s a fresh, almost green smell as well as a lovely, soft, sweetness around the edges. And gosh, I still get something roasty that’s a little like coffee. A+ for aroma.

Light bodied, but deep flavored. Smooth, but slightly astringent. There’s a complexity that is suprising given the body of this tea. I usually associate complexity with full body, but that association has just been defenestrated.

There’s a sweet, bready, flavor and a dark, black tea taste that sneaks up on you to remind you what this is, just when you thought you were drinking something else. A sweet, coffee-like aftertaste.

Random wet leaf measurement: 2.5 inches! Wow!

I haven’t ever given a perfect score and I’m not sure I’m ready to. But this is definitely an A+ of a tea.

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

If you really wanna be tea geek, you could take a string and follow the curves of the leaves then measure the string length.:)


LOVE this stuff!


Yay Makai Black! Seriously unlike any other black tea I’ve had. So good! Ack! Now I want some!


Wow — fantastic note on many levels!


Where can I get this?? I went to but there’s nothing on the site except for a few photos of a tea garden and an email address. Is this correct? Do I need to email them for ordering info? Please someone tell me where I can find this, I’d love to try it. Thanks!


Yep, send them email. They told me they’re in the middle of setting up the ability to order online but when I ordered I did it by sending them a list of what I wanted and a check.


How do you know what they have Morgana?


Hmmm… a little old school but this tea sounds fantastic. I’ll shoot them an email… thanks!


Cofftea, I wrote to them to tell them I’d like to order this, and asked about pricing. They wrote back and told me and also said they had an oolong and a white available and gave me some info about those as well. They’re pretty responsive, I’d just email them any questions you have.

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215 tasting notes

This stands apart from other black teas, and I think it’s the terroir & teamaster, being Hawaii-grown and handmade. The first thing I notice about the dry tea is the marvelous fresh scent. These long, thick whole leaves with gold tips have the freshness of a green meadow in their aroma — and this is a black, substantially oxidized tea! The freshness carries over into the flavor of it’s “soup,” which is rich and sweet, with notes of biscuit, caramel and wood. And there’s lots of umami, the savory-meaty taste, in these Tea Hawaii teas, which (like the freshness) is true of all three representations of their teacraft that I’ve been so fortunate to receive (thanks to my sister). The leaves are perfect and full of life, truly artisan teas which have been carefully grown and hand-processed. Handmade tea, from the ground up. I’m becoming a bit of a connoisseur of the pure leaf, and it’s teas like this which make it rewarding.

And then there is the absolute freshness. I am sure I have never had camellia sinensis tea this fresh. Which means that it hasn’t had time to absorb the ambient aromas from months of travel, packed in various containers which are opened and closed all over the world. Some of what we taste in tea from China, for instance, is travel-acquired. We may have come to think of it as the taste of tea. Now, having tried three extremely fresh teas from Hawaii, I think perhaps not.

As to how my sister got these Hawaii-grown teas, which are not available anywhere online at this time, to send me for my birthday (thank you, Chrissy!): she reports that she went to and emailed them, then mailed a check. I don’t know what she paid, but if you want to find out how fresh tea tastes (or perhaps how tea really tastes) it may be worth it.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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24 tasting notes

i have many thoughts but for sake of simplicity and honesty, i am keeping the description to this tea in one phrase:

this is why you drink loose leaf.

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100 tasting notes

Sweet, complex flavor. Tastes like raw sugar.


This is one that I need to sample…..

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17 tasting notes

Very simple with some sweet notes

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1247 tasting notes

The last person to update this tea with a review was over 10 years ago. I find this a bit surprising but also understandable. It may not be the most aesthetically pleasing website but functionally it does what it needs to without being confusing and that is what really counts. I was privileged to be able to meet Eva Mar 3rd, 2024. Granted we paid her for a tour but still privileged nonetheless to be able to go to the Big Island and do what we did. If you are on the Big Island please make sure you do a tour with Tea Hawai’i. It’s an amazing experience. I’ve already had one cup of this. We were at the Hilton Waikoloa and I’m so glad I brought tea with me. My first experience was fantastic but I forgot to write tasting notes. I do however remember malt, chocolate, and cream. Let’s see if this second stea bag is similar.

Dry Leaf aroma: (She only had bags and it’s not really coming through but I will cut and see if I can release the aroma that way)
Dry Appearance: Mix of small and big leaf. Mix of brown hues.
Liquor aroma: creamy, dark caramel.
Wet Leaf infusing: Caramel, dried pinewood, cream, slight leafy compost
Flavor: Mainly woody. Different wood types including pine and redwood. A bit of malt and cream. Funny how each cup can prove to be its own character.
Mouthfeel: Smooth with a touch of astringency. (How I like it best!)

Please note that you will find them on Google but not on Google maps. All of the tea farms allow tours but are run at their places of residence so please contact them for a tour date, don’t just show up. Also as a heads up the road to get to Tea Hawaii is not for sports or low-riding cars. It is quite bumpy.

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15131 tasting notes

i’m not sure if this is the right listing – tastybrew brought us this from hawaii. I feel like this isn’t the right listing, but it’s where terris put hers soooo yeah. lol this package says Johnny’s garden. It’s a lovely cup that’s seriously smooth with a bit of sweetness in the background. It’s not overly strong or malty but it is delicious and that’s all that matters. and it’s a sipdown soooo 3-4 left to go for today…except i have a ton of things to do outside the house! gah!

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3294 tasting notes

Here’s what I drank so far today:
Bukhial – Tea Emporium (from Sil) Sipdown! I needed something bold…
Numalighur – Mariage freres (Sil) Sipdown! I needed more bold…
French Toast – 52teas (BBBB Grab bag, Tasty Brew) -just not for me
Russian Caravan – Upton – back down to earth
Butter Brandy Cake – 52teas (BBBB Grab Bag, Tasty Brew) – even less for me

Then there is THIS tea, which Tasty Brew included in the Grab Bag in our BBBBox, purchased on her trip to Hawaii. There is just enough for me & Sil to each sample it.
This is very different from any other black tea I’ve tried ever, & defies description, & yet I will try…roasted rye, with a hint of grilled pineapple, & an aftertaste of unsweetened cacao.
Does that sound terrible? It’s NOT! It’s an interesting tea, very unique & I wish I had more, just for a change of pace.

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