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Make it Māmaki: The Benefits of Hawaiian Tea

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Make it Māmaki: The Benefits of Hawaiian Tea

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Māmaki is the native Hawaiian term for the flowering nettle pipturus albidus. It grows in vast quantities on the Hawaiian islands, most often sprouting in bright green leafy shrubs. In some cases, though, māmaki trees can grow up to 30 feet tall. Unlike other members of the nettle family, māmaki plants have no stinging hairs, making it easy for farmers and foragers to collect the leaves for tea. Despite its unassuming appearance, māmaki is beloved by Hawaiians, who have used it for its medicinal properties for centuries.

Anywhere you go in Hawaii, you can find this plant in abundance, but outside of the islands, this mysterious little plant is nowhere to be found. That’s because māmaki is an endemic species. It’s native to a distinct geographic region: in this case, that’s Hawaii.

So what makes māmaki so special?

An Age-Old Tradition

Māmaki is part of a Hawaiian cultural tradition that can be traced back centuries. In days of old, islanders would use cures made from the māmaki fruit to treat infections and weakness, and the leaves were used to brew a fortifying herbal tea. But it wasn’t just the leaves and the berries they used: everything, including the bark and the seeds of the māmaki, were put to use, making fiber cloth, dye, and much more. The ancient Hawaiians knew that this herb was truly a jack of all trades.

These days, māmaki tea is a favorite among those looking for an authentic, natural way to boost their health. According to a study by the University of Hawaii, māmaki tea contains more antioxidants than your average commercial tea brand. These antioxidants include catechins, chlorogenic acid, and rutin - compounds also found in red wine, root vegetables, and chocolate! Māmaki tea is said to have energizing, detoxifying, and mood-boosting properties. It doesn’t hurt that the tea is delicious and refreshing, either!

An Unusual Relationship

Māmaki plants are also the favorite of the Kamehameha butterfly, known as the pulelehua in the native language. This butterfly species has a remarkable history: it takes its name from the dynasty of Kamehameha, the kingdom’s reigning royal family for nearly a century. In 2009, Kamehameha butterflies became the Hawaiian state insect.

But the relationship between the butterflies and the māmaki plant doesn’t stop there. Kamehameha butterflies, like māmaki itself, are endemic to Hawaii, making their symbiosis all the more special and symbolic. In fact, these two beings are so attuned to each other that they even look alike: caterpillars blend into the lush growth, while chrysalises and the underside of the butterflies’ wings resemble dried māmaki leaves.

Planting māmaki is a tried-and-true island method for attracting Kamehameha butterflies. That means that when you buy māmaki products, you are supporting an industry that benefits native butterfly populations.

Buddha’s Cup is a proud purveyor of Hawaiian māmaki tea. Our in-house loose leaf blend is enhanced with fragrant lemongrass, perfect for making a delicious, calming cup at any time of the day. And our māmaki products come with a sweet promise: when you buy a package, you are directly contributing to the repopulation of the Kamehameha butterfly.

Buddha’s Cup māmaki tea tastes great—and it feels good too. Try some today!