It’s Tea Time!


The mamaki plant is a staple in any Hawaiian medicine cabinet, as it’s known to help with a variety of health conditions. Found throughout the islands growing wild on mountain slopes, in a relative’s backyard, or at local Farmers’ Markets, it’s easy to find for those living in both rural and urban areas. It is commonly prepared as tea or in combination with other plants or herbs, depending on the ailment being treated.

In traditional times, mamaki was used to alleviate fatigue and ease childbirth, PMS, digestion, and when cleansing. Today it is more commonly used to help lower blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugars. Some people also use it to improve mood, cure bladder infections, or heal the liver. One or two cups of mamaki tea each day is recommended.

Mamaki has recently been identified as a powerful antioxidant, with levels higher than those found in oolong and black tea, and comparable to that found in green tea. Antioxidants help protect your body against cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and more. The antioxidant level is at its highest when mamaki had been brewed for an hour. But don’t brew too large a batch because antioxidant levels decrease each day – after three days antioxidant levels decrease by almost 50%!

Because of its high antioxidant levels, mamaki can help prevent viral infections and kill viruses. It can also be used topically as an antibacterial, promoting wound healing and preventing strep (streptococcus pyogenes) and staph (staphylococcus aureus) infections. Mamaki can also serve as an antifungal, helping to treat ringworm and certain nail and skin infections.

Tea can be made using either fresh or dried mamaki leaves. Some prefer to put a couple of leaves in a cup of hot water, then letting it steep for about 10-15 minutes before drinking. Another way would be to boil the leaves until the tea is an amber color.

For traditional Hawaiian diet programs, we serve mamaki tea with the evening meal, as a healthy substitute for sugary drinks as well as for its medicinal value. For Hawaiian cleanse programs, we use mamaki, along with leaves from other plants, to make teas as part of a total body cleansing and detox protocol. The leaves were kept even after the tea was consumed. When the pot would get low, more water was added to boil another pot of tea. The leaves continued to be reused as long as the same amber color was achieved, typically three batches.

Before taking any herbal preparation, talk to your doctor so they can advise you of any possible interactions with your medications and/or health condition. Those taking blood thinners, diuretics, diabetes medications, and lithium need to be cautious when using mamaki tea.