Okolehao is an ancient Hawaiian alcoholic spirit whose main ingredient was the root of the ti plant. Okolehao's forerunner was a fermented ti root beverage or beer. When distillation techniques were introduced by English seamen in 1790, it was distilled into a highly alcoholic spirit.
Hawaiians discovered that if the ti root is baked, a sweet liquid migrates to the surface of the root. Chemically, the heat changes the starch in the root to a fermentable sugar. The baked root is then soaked in a vat of water which dissolves the sugar, and fermentation begins. The fermented drink was later distilled into a highly alcoholic spirit which became Hawaii's only indigenous distilled spirit, and was prized by the king. The Merrie Monarch, King David Kalakaua, is said to have had his own distiller.