When I first moved to the Big Island of Hawai`i I heard many people talk about tea plants and assumed there was a thriving tea-based agriculture on the island. It seemed sensible, tea is grown in the tropics after all, isn't it? For someone like me that really did sound like paradise. I'd grown up and lived nearly thirty years in England and a nice cup of tea was always a highlight of the day. For any Bill Bryson fan out there who's familiar with "Notes from a Small Island", you'll be familiar with the reaction of most English people when given a cup of tea - "Ooh, lovely!".
The house I bought here had a very nice advert which included "awake with the doves" (actually, I think they're pigeons), "listen to the waves breaking on the cliffs" (now drowned out by the coquis) and there was a mention of the plants in the yard, but it didn't click. The realtor mentioned tea plants so I looked forward to growing my own tea while enjoying the doves and the sound of the waves.
Actually, it didn't click for a very long time afterwards, but in those days I'd go around the yard trying to figure out what plant was what and finally gave up and asked a friend to go round for me and list them all in return for dinner. I think it was only then that I realised that all the tea plants that I couldn't find were, in fact, ti plants.
And I didn't even realise that's what they made grass skirts from...