A senate bill discussed in committee Monday is designed to establish labeling requirements for Hawaii grown teas, in an effort to for local tea produces to tap into what the bill describes as a multi-billion dollar market.
SB 2957 was deferred by the Committee of Commerce and Consumer Protection Monday morning, without determining a future date for discussion.
According to bill, introduced by State Senator Will Espero, Hawaii tea producers have the potential to benefit from labeling that designates their products as 100 percent Hawaii grown, or as a blend of locally grown teas.
A blended tea can include up to 75 percent of tea from out of state, but must be labeled to make it clear that it is not entirely Hawaii-grown.
The bill contends that recent research by the University of Hawaii shows that the tea strain, known as Camellia sinesis, could become a specialty product for the State. The strain was introduced in Hawaii in 1887 when more profitable agriculture, such as pineapple and sugar cane, dominated Hawaii's agricultural industry.
The bill refers to the tea market as a multi-billion dollar industry that has the potential to double in the next five years. The labeling requirements are aimed to protect the Hawaii grown tea.