See what’s brewing at a tea venue near you.

TEA IS REGARDED AS THE MOST POPULAR BEVERAGE IN THE WORLD (AFTER WATER), AND ITS HISTORY TRACES BACK thousands of years. It has had a significant impact on world history, and, in fact, has been the marker of financial empires, the cause of two intercontinental wars and the root of opium trade in China. It’s safe to say tea has brewed up quite a stir.

An aromatic beverage, tea has undoubtedly made a name for itself, and is classified into a variety of categories: green, black, white, oolong and herbal. However, when you get down to the nitty-gritty, there’s believed to be an overwhelming amount of more than 3,000 tea varieties at hand.

Throughout the years, partaking in tea has cultivated into a most-coveted culture where high tea (a working-class evening meal) and afternoon tea (considered to be a ladies’ social occasion) take the forefront.


Steeped in tradition, afternoon tea has evolved into an experience all its own, and right here in the islands, you’ll find tea houses/venues dedicated to offering premier tea service-outposts, in fact, of upper-crust England, where everything stops come tea time.

“When you walk through the doors of our tea room, it takes you back to the late 1800s when Victorian tea rooms were plentiful and offered a relaxing place to unwind,” says Darlene Pahed, owner of A Cup of Tea Restaurant & Boutique. Located in the heart of Kailua town (407 Uluniu St., #101, 230-8832), A Cup of Tea is a Victorian tearoom specializing in freshly steeped teas that span the globe. Guests are seated at tables adorned with fine tablecloths and elegant china, and servers, also known as “chamber maids” dressed in mop caps and aprons, daintily pour you a cup of your preferred tea.

“Here at A Cup of Tea, we don’t just serve tea-it’s an experience and the tea just comes along with it,” explains Pahed, who opened the doors to this heavenly oasis four years ago.

Currently, Rooibos, White Champagne and Genmaicha tea top the list of most sought after teas.

“Genmaicha is a green-based tea and is very light. It has a tasty rice flavor and is the No. 1 tea in Japan. White Champagne Tea from China, is caffeine-free. It’s a rare white tea infused with raspberry,” Pahed says. “Then, interestingly enough, Rooibos is a red-based African tea that actually comes from a tree bark.”

A member of the U.S. Tea Association and as one of two tea sommeliers in the state, Pahed continuously educates herself on the art of tea and makes it a point to visit various tea rooms throughout the U.S. and internationally as well.

Freshly baked scones, homemade clotted cream and lemon curd, as well menus showcasing an array of soups, salads, finger sandwiches and sweet delights pair perfectly with each pot of tea. And the dining room? Well, that’s decked to the nines, specifically decorated for almost every holiday.

Travel to East Honolulu and you’ll come across the ubiquitous Kahala Hotel & Resort (5000 Kahala Ave., 739-8760), which houses The Veranda. The space recently underwent a makeover, and now features distinctive island flair with new Tommy Bahama furniture and décor, giving way to a sophisticated and modern appeal.

“There’s a longstanding history at The Veranda with tea service that leads back to the hotel’s origins,” says food and beverage director Todd Oldham. “We come across people who have been coming to The Kahala Hotel & Resort for years, who utilize this as a family tradition and a place to celebrate special occasions. It’s a very refined concept.”

The Veranda boasts three tea services to choose from, including Simple Tea Service, Classic Tea Service and Royal Tea Service. Simple Tea Service presents patrons with a single pot of loose leaf tea of their choosing and a plate of four personally selected savories or sweets from the menu. The Classic Tea Service features sweets and savories, as well as freshly baked scones, clotted cream and preserves. As with Royal Tea Service, a sparkling glass of champagne with a strawberry is added to the mix for the ultimate tea time.

“We feature Harney & Sons teas, which has enjoyed a long history in the tea business,” Oldham states. From the Asian Flair collection to the Island Inspired tea collection and European Elegance, guests are encouraged to explore the flavors of the world by the cupful.

“The most highly requested tea is Dragon Pearl Jasmine, a green tea with fragrant Jasmine,” Oldham says of this signature tea found on the Asian Flair portion of the menu.

“Pomegranate Oolong is a unique, island-inspired tea,” adds executive pastry chef Michael Moorhouse. “It’s a delicious blend of light, yet fragrant oolong tea and pomegranate flowers. “And for a classic take on British tea, Earl Grey is a proper go-to choice.”

Served daily from 2 to 5:30 p.m., Tea at The Veranda is a habit worth cultivating. The Kahala’s executive chef Wayne Hirabayashi, together with Moorhouse, created a myriad of afternoon tea fare, that Moor-house explains is inspired by their personal preferences and what’s seasonally available.

“Chef Wayne was influenced by the manchego cheese on a trip to Spain, and he liked the idea of ham being served with butter,” Moorhouse explains. “Then for your sweet treats, must-trys are lilikoi madeleines, yuzu, French-style macarons, profiteroles with pistachio cream, and chocolate raspberry tart.”

Between sips and bites, soak in trade wind breezes and the majestic views overlooking the dolphin lagoon. Here at The Veranda, Oldham stresses the fact that everything is in the details.

He shares, “When you’re sitting in The Veranda in the afternoon, and you’re in this incredible space, you want every single step of that experience to reflect your beautiful surroundings.”