Shared from Pacific Business News
Some of Shaka Tea’s products, which utilize mamaki grown on Hawaii Island. | Photo: Courtesy of SHAKA TEA
Local mamaki-brewed iced tea company Shaka Tea has opened its first storefront in an 800-square-foot space in Hilo. The HQ & Retail Experience Center launched last month and celebrated its grand opening Tuesday.
According to Bella Hughes, Shaka Tea co-founder and president, it’s been a long time coming.
“We have been asked since day one, in 2016 when we were running the company basically out of our garage, ‘when are you going to open your store?’” Hughes told Pacific Business News.
The center features Shaka Tea by the bottle — including premium blends that are not yet available in retailers — and branded merchandise, and is the only place statewide that sells the tea by the case. Shaka Tea utilizes mamaki, which is endemic to Hawaii, that is grown on Hawaii Island, and its products contain zero calories and no sugar.
The HQ & Retail Experience Center also has a tea blending bar, which offers customers the chance to create their own custom blends from a mix of USDA-certified organic, locally grown herbal teas.
“If they’re from here, it’s a great little makana (gift) for them to share with their loved ones,” Hughes said. “And tourists are loving it because then they can take back something omiyage style that they actually made themselves to share.”
Starting Wednesday, the center also will offer daily tea blending workshops, as well as other classes and lectures that cover topics including how Shaka Tea creates its products, sustainable agriculture, landscaping with native plants and more.
Shaka Tea will continue to expand its programming at the center, and Hughes said that offering these types of activities was one of the company’s main reasons behind opening the center.
“We wanted to have a retail space, but at the same time, create a sense of community around that,” said Hughes, who is also one of the co-founders of contemporary art exhibition Honolulu Biennial.
“The way to do that is more than just transactional — it’s about creating relationships and educating,” she added. “With today’s consumer, everybody is interested in the origins of where products come from, what they mean, how they are grown, what is the history and culture behind it.”
The space was designed by Mike Stowe, formerly the director of visual merchandising at DFS Group, with floral design by Drew Murphy of the Accidental Florist.