Find a Moment of Zen at Ami Mei Tea & Wellness Boutique in Kaimukī
Brittnee Lau’s calming, well-sourced shop checks all the boxes for gifting in May.
From the best part of Taurus season to celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage and Mental Health Awareness, May is the month to indulge the senses, support your AAPI friends and invest in some honestly good self-care. I found just the place that ticks all those boxes in Kaimukī. Opened by tea monger Brittnee Lau last year, Ami Mei is a wellness and tea boutique and a calming oasis on 12th Avenue.
In fact, just saying “Ami Mei”—a combination of Lau’s daughter Amelia’s nickname and her own Chinese name, Mei—invokes a sense of calm.
Enter and let Lau or shop assistant Missie Yamamura pour you a cup of the daily featured tea. Today, it’s a roasty oolong. As I browse the shelves for a gift, I alternate between chatting with Yamamura and sipping my tea. The shop features both of Lau’s tea lines, Treehouse Teahouse and Wallflower Teas. Treehouse teas are made in small batches using 100% Hawai‘i-grown teas and botanicals, while the bold Wallflower blends are sourced globally and blended and formulated locally.
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“I really love supporting our farmers and sharing Hawai‘i’s unique terroir with people,” says Lau. “We only work with farmers who practice regenerative farming and are herbicide- and pesticide-free.”
One of the Treehouse teas, the A‘a black tea grown in Volcano on Hawai‘i Island, is perhaps one of the rarest in the world. At Ami Mei, it retails for $79 for 20 grams, or roughly $1,791 a pound. The farmers who cultivate it in optimal conditions for temperature, elevation and soil content predict they’ll produce roughly 20 kilograms this year. Enjoyed like a fine Bordeaux, this tea has aromatic notes of raisins and merlot.
In addition to her house brands, Lau carries local and global teas, apothecary goods and skincare products. Her favorite labels include Wild Orchard, which sources its teas from regenerative organic farms in Jeju, South Korea; Plum Dragon Herbs ointments, and a skincare brand called URB Apothecary. She also carries teaware, cups, thermoses and matcha whisks.
“My favorite section of the store is our ‘tea bar,’” says Lau, “which is a selection of puerh teas, aged teas or other oddities all in single serving sizes.”
Lau says she has hosted workshops on tea brewing, blending and even crafting smokeable herbs; she hopes to bring them back into the mix soon. Every Sunday, there is a community gong fu cha, a Chinese tea ceremony, from 3 to 5 p.m. and everyone is welcome—you just need to RSVP.
With my hectic schedule, shopping for someone (even myself) is a luxury I rarely indulge in, but by the time I select my friend’s gift, 30 minutes of browsing and chatting have gone by, along with two cups of tea. I leave in a state of zen, with a gift that promises to do the same for my friend.
Open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 1135 12th Ave., shopamimei.com, @shopami.mei