Thanks to you and all your support, I had the opportunity this holiday to visit Hawaii for a little vacation. Even on my vacation, I just couldn’t help checking out some green tea stuff while there. As I explored more, I found that Hawaii’s trend with green tea is a little different from other places, so I decided to write this blog post just for fun to let you know what is trending in Hawaii when it comes to green tea.
I did not list and compare all of them and do research as I do with my other blog posts, so I call this post a "selfish" list of my personal favorite things about green tea in Hawaii. Enjoy.
I keep updating this blog post every time I visit. The most recent visit was in 2023, and I updated this where I could.
New Tea Shops at Ala Moana Center
Two exciting new tea shops just opened at Ala Moana Center. When I visited in January 2021, there was a long, long line of people trying to get their tea. I hope when you get there, there will be fewer people in line.
The Alley (Inside Ala Moana Center)
The new store opened in Ala Moana Center on December 19, 2020.
The Alley is a famous bubble tea shop founded in Taiwan in 2013. The original name is The Alley Lujiaoxiang (鹿角巷). In the USA, as of January 2021, they are only available in Las Vegas and California. Now you get to try their famous bubble tea in Hawaii! Their Matcha Brown Sugar Deerioca Milk is one of the most famous lines and a must-drink for matcha lovers.
Lupicia (Inside Ala Moana Center)
Another exciting new shop that just opened in Ala Moana Center is Lupicia.
Lupicia is an extremely popular tea company from Japan. They are famous for their black tea line. They even have a school in Japan called Lupicia Tea School, where they teach about tea. Just in the Tokyo area, there are over 50 shops of theirs; they also have shops in France, Taiwan, and Australia.
This Ala Moana mall is their first store in the USA, and they carry a Hawaiian-exclusive line, probably targeting Japanese visitors. Either you are a Japanese visitor or not, I recommend trying their tea for sure.
Here is Hawaii's limited version of non-caffeine tea.
Green Tea Cafes in Hawaii
Just like any other urban city catching up with tea shops, Waikiki is no exception. There are quite a few new tea shops and cafes everywhere to enjoy tea moments.
Nana’s Green Tea (2250 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, HI 96815)
Whenever I am on the Waikiki Beach Walk, I always stop by Stix Asia (It used to be Waikiki Yokocho, which was shut down during COVID). You will almost miss this place as you walk the famous Kalakaua St. because the sign is not that visible, but if you take the steps down and enter the place, you will notice it is a paradise for Japanese food lovers.
The place is packed with many Japanese restaurants, and they are all so good.
Nana’s Green Tea is one of the shops there and serves matcha-focused drinks and sweets. (They have quite a few shops in Japan.) If you like matcha like me, there is no miss for what you order there. I didn’t order everything, but I am always satisfied with their sweets.
Infinitea Cafe (808 Sheridan St., Honolulu, HI 96814)
My favorite walk in Waikiki is the walk from Waikiki Beach to Ala Moana Center. It is a good 30–40 minute walk, and this tea shop is right in between, so I tend to stop by here for a little tea break. It is a tea-specialized cafe with lots of options.
Matcha Stand Maiko (2310 Kuhio Ave. #134, Honolulu, HI 96815)
Matcha Stand Maiko is a block away from Kalakaua Ave., but their Cheese Matcha Latte is quite good.
One wall art in Kakaako. I'm pretty sure they don't have the copyright of this monster...
Daily Whisk Matcha (1114 11th Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816)
Daily Whisk Matcha is a small yet stylish cafe in Kaimuki that specializes in fresh Matcha and Hojicha-based drinks and some mouth-watering Japanese-themed quick bites, such as Arabiki sausage rolls and fresh fruit sandwiches.
Don’t let the small size of the cafe make you doubt its quality. It has been featured in a Japanese TV show called ‘Akogare no chi ni Ie wo kaou - 憧れの地に家を買おう (Let’s buy a house in the land of our dreams) in January 2024. This popular show on channel BS-TBS airs every Friday morning and introduces spectacular locations and houses from all over the world. In its Hawaii episode, Daily Whisk Matcha stole the spotlight as its drinks were brought to the hosts of the show and introduced to the viewers.
(Sorry, bad image, I just snapped the TV show on my phone!)
Apart from the classic drinks such as Matcha Latte, Daily Whisk Matcha has some intriguing drinks, too. For example, Matcha Lilikoi Soda (their signature drink that combines Hawaii’s Lilikoi passion fruit syrup with Matcha), Matcha-cano (Americano, but with organic Matcha instead of coffee!), HAPA Matcha Latte (Hojicha + Matcha = the best of both worlds).
Their Matcha-colada is a vibe!
More of my Favorite Tea Spots
Via Gelato (1142 12th Ave., Honolulu, Hawaii 96816)
This famous gelato shop in Hawaii has space for chit-chat and serves ice cream sandwiches and gelato cakes. Their matcha gelato is amazing and has a nice and vivid color that looks very nice—a must-visit for gelato and Japanese green tea lovers.
Shokudo Japanese (1585 Kapiolani Blvd. Kapiolani Blvd. Honolulu, HI 96814)
This dine-in Japanese restaurant is a perfect place while I am deciding what to eat for dinner. They have almost all kinds of Japanese food here, even Japanese spaghetti, and I noticed that with so many foods they offer, they only have one dessert: the Original Honey Toast. So I ordered the Matcha Original Honey Toast, and it is good. The taste looks like they used a bit of premium-quality matcha.
Sad Reality of Green Tea in Hawaii
As a visitor, it is nice to have cafes to visit, but what if you live here?
I found out that it is quite difficult to find quality tea if you live here and want to enjoy tea at home. This is unfortunately true for many small cities in the USA, and that is one of the reasons our online shop is becoming quite popular.
Here is a picture of a tea aisle in Don Quijote (801 Kaheka St., Honolulu, HI 96814), one of the biggest Japanese discount shops in Waikiki.
I am always amazed to see so many selections of all the Japanese stuff I can find here compared to Uwajimaya in Portland. (Don Quijote is probably 10 times the size of Portland Uwajimaya.) Despite the size and selection, I was very disappointed with the variety and quality of the tea they carry. I realized why we are quite popular among customers in Hawaii.
What about Souvenirs Omiyage?
Yes, I am Japanese, and I do care about souvenirs (omiyage) everywhere I go. If you know Japanese culture, you know we like gifting things to family and friends to show off and tell them about vacations.
Kona Coffee or Green Tea?
Many specialty coffee shops are paying more attention to quality tea these days, and Hawaiian coffee shops are no exception. Island Vintage Coffee (2301 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, HI 96815, and a few other locations throughout Hawaii) is always super popular among Japanese people for some reason, and you find a lot of Japanese customers lining up at this coffee shop. I do like their coffee, but check out this new, super nicely packaged green tea they carry now. I thought it was packaged better than their coffee.
The Last Dean and Deluca in the USA Carrying Matcha Pancake Mix
I personally love Dean and Deluca (2233 Kalakaua Ave., Building B, Honolulu, HI 96815) a lot and have visited quite a few of them in past years, including the one in the middle of grape fields in Napa.
Unfortunately, they have closed all their shops in the USA except the ones in Hawaii. Japanese people love this brand, and due to their popularity among Japanese customers visiting their shop, the Hawaiian location remains open. It is now the last shop in the USA.
The shop clerk was telling me they have a "limited edition" of tote bags that Japanese customers line up early in the morning, every morning, to get. They only sell limited numbers of these hibiscus tote bags, so there is always a line in the early morning, and most of the customers are from Japan!
I did not line up in the early morning, but I visited them this time and found this matcha pancake mix. The cloth packaging is so cute that it is my choice for the souvenir. You can officially get this anywhere else in the USA now.
Pineapple or Green Tea?
This time I went crazy with pineapple and did a Maui Gold Tour and Dole Plantation visit. (Dole Plantation, 64-1550 Kamehameha Hwy., Wahiawa, HI 96786) Which one do you think won the battle? The taste of the Maui Gold couldn’t even come close to the ones from Dole, and the Dole plantation has a lot more options for souvenirs.
Other than the chocolate-covered pineapple (yummm) that I couldn’t help getting, Pineapple Green Tea caught my attention. What a great idea!
Unique Green Tea Trend in Hawaii
I always enjoy seeing the evolution of green tea trends in different cultures, and green tea in Hawaii is surely trending up with the rest of the world with its twist. Unfortunately, there are not many options for residents to enjoy traditional green tea, but the tour and visitors are shaping the unique modern tea culture here.
I cannot wait to go back to Hawaii again soon to see more trends shaping up with green tea (and for more pineapples and vacations too!).