Māmaki is a native Hawaiian tisane / herbal tea. It's caffeine-free, refreshing, rich in antioxidants, and often believed to be a miracle brew.
Brewing hot mamaki at home
I consult on tea. The client question I receive most often: what's going to be trendy?
The answer to that: exotic herbals.
Exotic herbals like osmanthus, butterfly pea flowers, and my favorite of them all, Hawaiian mamaki!
Just picked mamaki leaves from a friend who grew these in her backyard
What is Mamaki?
Mamaki (spelled Māmaki in Hawaiian) is a native Hawaiian plant. It is a member of the nettle family.
The leaves of the plant are picked and dried, then brewed with hot water and drunk like tea. It's good both hot and cold…the plant's bold herbal notes are tamed with a subtle, natural sweetness.
Native Hawaiians use mamaki often for medicinal purposes. It was long considered a miracle plant because people people believed that mamaki cured many things from high blood pressure, to digestion issues, etc. Because mamaki was common growing up in Hawaii, it's been fascinating to see how mamaki is becoming so trendy and popular in mainstream culture.
On Oahu: a farmer's mamaki crop got wiped out during heavy rains. He is starting to replant everything again.
Where Does Mamaki Grow?
Everywhere! But everywhere ONLY in Hawaii ^_^
Mamaki can grow at all elevations (it needs some shade), and you can still find it growing wild in Hawaii. The size of the mamaki plant can range from a small three-foot shrub to a big twenty-foot tree. Most of the commercially grown mamaki is located on the Big Island (though we are starting to see more and more hobby and commercial growers on Oahu and Maui).
The leaves of the plant are what we brew to drink, but the entire mamaki plant can be put to use. The berries were often used for medicinal purposes. The tree bark was use to make kapa (bark cloth), which was then used for clothing and blankets. Nothing goes to waste.
Dried whole mamaki leaves
Mamaki Health Benefits
I'm skeptical when people drink something just for the supposed health benefits (a big part of why matcha got so trendy in the US was due to wellness/beauty companies). You should drink something because it tastes good and you like it. If there happens to be believed health benefits...then great. But don't drink it thinking that it will cure your issues. Take health benefits with a grain of salt.
Mamaki has three key antioxidants that accounts for their reputation as a miracle brew:
- Catechins - helps to fight diseases and cell damage
- Chlorogenic acid - help with blood pressure
- Rutin - helps control bodyweight
Dried whole mamaki leaf
How to Drink Mamaki
Use mamaki the same way you would any herbal tea. Steep the dry, crushed leaves in hot water (I prefer it just under boiling, 200F is ideal) for 3-5 minutes. Brew the leaves longer for a stronger, more bold drink and shorter for a lighter drink.
You can also cold brew mamaki overnight. Put the crushed leaves in a glass jar, fill it with water and leave in the fridge overnight. This makes for a wonderful, really light and delicate drink.
There's no right or wrong way to brew mamaki, it's all about personal preference.
If you don't like the taste of mamaki plain, you are in luck. Mamaki blends very well with other ingredients like fresh mint or dried peppermint, ginger, lemongrass, and lemon. Just take the dried leaves, crush them up and mix them with the other ingredients and brew away. It's also nice with the tiniest bit of honey.
Dried mamaki leaves, crushed and blended with peppermint
Where To Buy and Drink Mamaki
Fyi, I’ve included affiliate links below. I may earn a small commission (at no cost to you), if you purchase through the links.
Shaka Tea makes great bottled mamaki-based drinks which you can find all over Hawaii. They have four flavors (mango, pineapple-mint, guava-ginger blossom, and lemon-lokelani rose). You can order a mix case of the drinks here. It's super refreshing on hot days. 0 calories and 0 sugar. P.S. Shaka Tea recently opened their first retail shop in Hilo on the Big Island. Congrats!
You can easily buy dried mamaki leaves online here - this has dried and crushed leaves. All you have to do is steep and drink.
Mamaki at Whole Foods Hawaii
Local Shops and Restaurants
Many Hawaii cafes and restaurants also offer mamaki on the tea menu. Check out the tea menus carefully as you eat your way around Hawaii, you will spot it fairly often ^_^