Here’s What’s Brewing at Herbologie
Step inside this herb, spice and tea shop in Kaka‘ako.
Monika Tournis, herbalist and president of Herbologie in Kaka‘ako, holds her favorite drink from her newest lines of bottled teas available in her store, as well as at Down To Earth, Kōkua Market and Mana Foods in Maui.
Photos: Bianca Sewake
Monika Tournis’ story on becoming an herbalist is a spicy one.
“I was first exposed to the art of herbs and spices from my grandparents and my parents,” says Tournis, who grew up in India and now runs Herbologie in Kaka‘ako. “People would come by and ask [my grandmother] for medicines and she would prepare everything by hand … Spices and herbs are just part of my family tradition.”
This family tradition stuck with Tournis, who studied at the East West School of Herbology in California and later moved to Hawaiʻi to pursue other studies at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. She’s been formulating nutritional supplements for the last 14 years. She also operates Hawaiian Nutrition Co., which offers supplements and bath and body products. Tournis wanted to combine her background with her husband’s background in the coffee business to open up a shop.
“My husband is from Chicago,” says Tournis. “He took me on a trip to Chicago a couple times and he took me to his favorite spice shops there and I felt really inspired and said, ‘This is the direction we should go in because there is nothing like this in the Islands.’”
Two years ago, they opened up Herbologie, an herb and spice shop on Kamani Street in Kaka‘ako, specializing in Hawai‘i-grown ingredients. Herbologie carries other local products and brands, including Big Island Bees and The Aloha Tree Kona Coffee, but the stars of the shop are Herbologie’s selection of teas, spices and herbs.
Locally sourced spices and high-quality imported ones cost around $3 to $11, and this selection ranges from black peppercorn to lemon peel to a cacao-chili rub. Teas in tins cost $12. There are also loose teas that customers can customize.
“Some people like to make their own blends so they can come here and get individual ingredients,” says Tournis, “Or I make custom blends for people. If someone comes in and says ‘I can’t really breathe right now. The vog is bothering me,’ I’ll go back and blend something for them, and I’ll put in things that are good for lung clearing and allergies.”
From rose buds to mamaki to noni fruit powder and marshmallow root, customers can customize their own blends of tea or ask for specific blends.
Herbologie has its own hydroponic system at the back of the store, growing herbs and plants that can be found in Herbologie’s newest line of bottled teas. The teas are brewed, processed and packaged all in-house.
Speaking of teas, Herbologie recently launched a new line of bottled teas that are sold in the shop, as well as Down To Earth, Kōkua Market and Mana Foods in Maui. The line includes six drinks made of at least 50 percent of Hawai‘i-grown ingredients—some of which are grown by the couple in a small hydroponic system they have in a back room, where they also brew the teas and package it. No flavorings or preservatives are added. The drinks are a mixture of brewed herbs, such as herbal teas, and probiotics, which are fermented herbs similar to kombucha. But this is not kombucha. The probiotics just make the medicinal compounds in the plant more available for bodies to absorb it and make use of it, Tournis says.
“All of the teas have different flavors, but they also have different functions,” she says. “So they’re named for their functions.”
For instance, Mindful is an unsweetened green tea that includes herbs which help with mental focus and memory. “Good for studying or if you get that afternoon lull at work,” says Tournis.
Cleanse cleans out toxins and allergens, especially if you need a pick-me-up in the morning after a night of drinking. Pure Serenity is Tournis’ favorite drink and also the most popular one. It’s a floral drink that has the calming affects of aromatherapy to help you relax after a long day. Flexy is helpful for any pre-activity such as yoga or anything that requires stretching into a routine. Flexy increases circulation and warms up muscles to increase flexibility. Innergy has a little bit of caffeine in it and ingredients that rejuvenate the body to help bump up energy levels. Island Beauty is an antioxidant drink, which includes anti-aging herbs and hydrates cells to energize skin tone.
The teas are refreshing and lightly sweet, while still allowing the plants and herbs to shine. And figuring out the right taste was important for Tounis.
“It’s a lot easier to put something together and put it in a capsule and people don’t have to taste it,” says Tournis. “But when you have to have it taste good too, we had a lot of trial and error. After you’ve been working with herbs and spices for so long, you kind of have an intuition about how things are going to go together but you never know until you actually put them together.”
Tournis hopes to have the biggest collection of Hawai‘i-grown ingredients in one place. She wants to offer the bottled teas on Neighbor Islands and eventually expand to the West Coast. But, for now, she just wants to get feedback from customers on other ingredients they want to see Herbologie offer.
Herbologie, 318 Kamani St., 988-1499, herbologieteas.com
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