Made in Hawaii Part 2: One-of-a-kind holiday gifts discovered in North Hawaii

  • In addition to selling her art at the Kamuela Farmers Market on Saturdays, Lee teaches art classes Thursdays and Fridays at Mauna Lani Resort. (LANDRY FULLER/SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY)

  • Tropical art tiles are among the works of art that Candace Lee creates.

  • Naikela Botanicals offers six powdered herb tea options, packed with nutrients. (Photos by LANDRY FULLER/SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY)

  • Dore Centeio prepares a batch of her homemade Kamuela Gourmet Granola. (COURTESY PHOTO/SUSAN CHOUINARD)

WAIMEA — As the second part in this series, the North Hawaii News elves have found three additional gift options in the region made by Hawaii purveyors who have a story of their own to tell.

From handmade granola to superfood powdered tea to unique art tiles, creative artisans can help lessen shopping stress this season.


Kamuela Gourmet Granola

A local product that would make a great gift at Christmas or any time of year is Kamuela Gourmet Granola, created by Dore Centeio of Waimea.

Making the granola is a labor of love she perfected over many years before it became her full-time job. When she first started developing her recipe, she was living on Lanai but was unable to sell it then without a commercial kitchen.

In 2002 she and her husband, Edwin Goto, moved to Waimea. In 2008, Goto’s employer was adversely affected by the recession which in turn prompted him to accelerate plans to open his restaurant, Village Burger, at Parker Ranch Center.

It also meant a commercial kitchen was now available.

“It was nice to be able to bake again,” Centeio remembered, but “the granola thing,” as she called it, was still playing second fiddle to her other commitments including a new baby and a full-time job working for The Nature Conservancy.

It wasn’t until later that Centeio realized what her husband had known all along — that she should quit her day job and make granola for a living. The product is made in small batches in the Village Burger kitchen from fine ingredients she has specially sourced.

Bailey Wharton, who manages a Puako vacation rental, says he leaves a bag of Kamuela Gourmet Granola in the refrigerator for his guests.

“You can’t believe how many times people ask me about it, where they can get it and how can they get it,” he said. “It’s very popular.”

The different flavors of granola each have their own loyalists, and people can get a little upset when they can’t get it.

“I was going to be seasonal with the flavors but I discovered I can’t pull any of them because people want them all the time,” Centeio said.

While perfecting her granola recipe, Centeio said she was going for a granola that her chef husband would like.

“He likes to eat it straight out of the bag, like a trail mix,” she said, “so I wanted a chunkier granola that would be crunchy, one you can eat like trail mix but put on cereal or granola, too.”

Centeio kept at it with her husband serving as her official tester. Through many renditions the master recipe evolved, and from there she was able to start trying different flavor combinations.

“Playing around with flavors is the fun part,” she said. “That’s the creative vent in me.”

Currently flavors are Apple Pie, Coconut Macadamia Nut, Lemon Blueberry and Cranberry Orange. She also recently introduced Chocolate Macadamia Nut and soon plans to introduce new flavors: Pear and Pumpkin Spice and Cherry Chai.

Info: A 12-ounce bag sells for $9 at Village Burger and online at

Naikela Botanical powdered teas

Found at the Wednesday and Saturday farmers markets at Pukalani Stables in Waimea, the superfood powdered teas are sold under the label Naikela Botanicals. With five unique blends, the company’s motto — “Eat It * Drink It * Love It” — sums up the experience for those who have discovered them.

The five flavor blends are North Shore Punch, Garden Isle Mint, Kauai Chai, Wahine Blend and Kauai Cleanse. Usually served as a hot or cold beverage, the tea powder can also be added to smoothies or food.

Tangy, tart and sweet, North Shore Punch is power packed and tastes like li hing mui powder. It relieves allergies and provides a burst of energy. As the name implies, Garden Isle Mint tastes likes mint from the garden and helps the digestive and respiratory systems. It also aids in relieving insomnia and relieves allergies.

Kauai Chai tastes like floral ginger allspice with a hint of sweetness. It helps fight colds and the flu, and relieves allergies and inflammation. Wahine Blend, with its chocolatey peppermint taste, fights stress and fatigue, increases energy and brain clarity and can help balance hormones. Kauai Cleanse has a clean, green citrusy taste with a hint of coriander. It serves as a prebiotic, gentle cleansing alkalizer and supports every major system in the body.

“I think these teas are wonderful. I’ve bought every one and drink them nearly every day. I’ve also started sprinkling them on my food,” Virginia Forgatsch from Honokaa said. “I like them all and feel better after drinking them.”

The tea creator is Aaron Moeller, who owns Naikela Botanicals with his wife, Shannon. He is a sustainable farmer and blend master who grows the organic herbs for his teas on a 130-acre agricultural property on Kauai named Makanalani, meaning a gift from heaven.

The property was founded by Eric and Lyn Taylor out of the love they have for nature and children. The tea blends are made from aromatic and adaptogenic herbs. The certified, naturally grown super plants are hand harvested and then solar dehydrated in a proprietary convection heat system. Each blend was carefully formulated to deliver the maximum benefit from a combination of natural herbs.

Moeller and his family give half of the proceeds from Naikela Botanicals sold to Makanalani Kids, a nonprofit organization that hosts free camps for island children.

The company’s Big Island representative, Cherie “Chun Li” Griffore, demos the teas at farmers markets and tastings around the island. Because they are made up of herbs ground into a powder, they’re versatile and a great way to add health to your diet, she said.

“Instead of just soaking the leaves, you’re eating the whole plant. It’s like getting a salad’s worth of nutrition in every cup because you’re ingesting the plant’s fibers, too,” Griffore added.

The teas are sold in black metal tins with 30 half-teaspoon servings. Their small size makes them easy to send as Christmas gifts to the mainland or a thoughtful treat for family and friends on the island.

Info: To order online, visit Patrons using the code CHERIE15 on the website will receive a 15 percent discount.

Candace Lee art tiles

An artist-in-residence at Mauna Lani for the past 20 years, Candace Lee has taught watercolor to people all over the world. But until recently, those who loved her art weren’t always able to take it home with them, either because it was too big, too expensive or both.

Not anymore.

Thanks to a business collaborative between the artist and Valerie Walker from Visions of the Tropics, Lee’s colorful images of Hawaii are now available on tiles. They come in a variety of sizes that are relatively inexpensive and easy to transport.

They’re also made entirely in Hawaii.

“Because they’re heatproof and waterproof, the tiles have a lot of different uses,” Lee said. They can be hot plates or hung on the wall as decoration. People have also purchased them to use as backsplash in their kitchens or showers.”

Walker uses a process called sublimation to transfer Lee’s artwork to tile. She prints the image using a special ink and then heats the tiles which each have a special coating. When heated, the pores in the material open and absorb the ink. When removed from the heat, the tile seals up, making it heatproof, waterproof and nearly sun-resistant.

The tiles can fade a little if left outside in Hawaii’s intense sun, Walker said, but they won’t fade if kept inside. They are available in three sizes, 4×4, 6×6 and 8×8, and are sold individually or in packs.

Other products featuring her art are found on magnets, card holders, pill boxes, purses, Christmas ornaments and compacts. All feature Lee’s original artwork including sea life such as honu, dolphins, seahorses and tropical fish, as well as flowers and beach scenes of various spots she has visited in the islands.

Prices range from $15 to $50, including four tiles packaged in a handwoven lauhala basket. Christmas ornaments are two-sided and cost $25 each.

As an artist, Lee doesn’t mind being interrupted by people interested in her work while she’s painting. In addition to her farmers market booth on Saturdays, she’s at the Mauna Lani Resort pool area from 1-6 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays year round teaching watercolor classes. Participants don’t have to be a hotel guest.


“I’m a self-taught painter who arrived on the Big Island in 1984 and fell in love with the peace and beauty that surrounds me,” Lee said. “The green sea turtle has been the subject of many of my watercolor pieces and I’ve been told often that my artwork is a vehicle to preserve and save the green turtle from extinction.”

Info: To purchase tiles visit

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