Have you ever had Cascara tea? Chances are you haven’t (at least if you’re in the U.S.) as this drink is relatively new to the coffee scene; however, this tea made from coffee cherries has been popping up more and more in coffee shops and cafés around the world over the last two years.

What is it?

“Cascara” is Spanish for “husk” or “skin”; this is an appropriate name as Cascara tea is made from the dried skins of coffee berries. Once the coffee beans have been removed, the cherry skins are pulped and then dried in the sun. They are then packaged and shipped out around the globe. Cascara tea’s appearance is similar to loose leaf tea, but the cherry remnants are slightly larger.

After the coffee beans are harvested, the coffee cherries are often discarded. Cascara tea offers a green way to enjoy the entire coffee plant. This product not only allows us to exercise our creativity, but uses the whole plant so nothing goes to waste.

Is it Coffee?

Not really. Cascara tea is somewhere between coffee and tea. Although it comes from a coffee tree, it doesn’t have the same taste as the coffee bean it grows with. Cascara is sweet- described as having hints of rose hip, hibiscus, and mango with some notes of tobacco- and does not boast the same caffeine content as its coffee cousin; brewed at its strongest, Cascara tea has “111.4 mg/L” while coffee holds “400-800 mg/L”.

That being said, it can’t really be classified as a tea either. It is technically still in the Coffea family (with the familiar Robusta, Arabica, and Liberica coffees). The name is rather misleading as the taste is not similar to tea either; this “tea” is made from a fruit and not an herb or spice like most other teas. It might be more fair to call this beverage a fruit tisane than a tea.

Cascara Tea Around the World

While this might be a new thing to the United States, other countries, like Yemen and Ethiopia (the birthplace of Coffee), have been brewing Cascara tea like this for centuries. In these countries, the dried coffee cherry is usually steeped with spices (like ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon). Fun fact: Cascara tea is actually enjoyed more than coffee in Yemen because it is less expensive.

Most recently, coffee growers in South America (primarily Bolivia and El Salvador) have caught on to this method and are starting to produce their own Cascara tea along with coffee.

How to Brew Cascara Tea

A specific recipe is not readily available in the states, but here is a general idea. Experiment!

Hot Brew

What you’ll need:

  • Hot water
  • 1-2 heaping Tbl. Cascara Tea (per 8 oz. of water)
  • French Press or teapot with a strainer
  • Honey, Agave, or other sweetener (optional)
  • Ginger, nutmeg, or cinnamon (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Boil water
  2. Add tea to French Press or teapot strainer
  3. If adding spices, add them to the tea
  4. Pour boiling water over and let steep for at least 1 minute (this will largely be based on your preference, though)
  5. Sweeten with honey, agave, or your sweetener of choice
  6. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Cold Brew

It can also be served as an iced tea!

What you’ll need:

  • Cold water
  • 6 Tbl. tea (for every 10z of water)
  • 2 Pitchers
  • Strainer

Instructions:

  1. Place tea in water.
  2. Store in refrigerator and let brew for 24 hours.
  3. Strain into other pitcher
  4. Enjoy over ice!

 

Bonus tip:

  • When buying Cascara tea, don’t confuse it with cascara sagrada. While similar in name, they are quite different in taste (and purpose).

 

 

All in all, Cascara tea is a unique beverage that should be experienced if you have the chance. If it stays on this upward trajectory of popularity, those chances get higher every day!

 

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