Cascara, the Coffee Cherry Tea with a How-To Brew Guide
08/04/2014When the coffee cherry is processed to become the coffee bean that we know and love today, one of the key processes is the removal of the skin that surrounds the bean.
That skin on the fruit of the coffee cherry, also known as the coffee husk (‘husk’ or ‘skin’ translated in Spanish is Cascara, hence the name) is usually either a wasted product of coffee production or used as a fertilizer.
However it can actually make quite a tasty beverage.
In Yemen, it’s especially popular with a beverage known as Qishr – a hot drink made of cascara, ginger and sometimes cinnamon or nutmeg. In fact it’s even more popular than coffee in this country because it’s cheaper. In Bolivia, it’s known as Sultana, in which drinkers there either have it as is or mix it with cinnamon as well. Cascara is assumed to be the first beverage made with the coffee plant, before the beans were roasted and used to make the coffee we know today. It is not the Cascara Sagrada tea (Rhamnus Purhiana) that is known as a powerful laxative... so no need to worry!
We thought the taste was incredibly interesting so we included 50 grams of the product in the August issue of the Roasters Pack as a special gift for our subscribers. On each sip you’ll get watermelon notes with a bit of lemon or orange, as well as the prominent notes of cherry & redcurrant with a sweet & clean finish. On the nose we have a floral, rose-like scent.
Once the husk is removed from the coffee with the pulper, it is sun-dried (similar to the process of coffee). Just like any coffee, there are a lot of factors that impact the quality of Cascara. A few unripe cherry skins can ruin the entire batch, which is why most farms don’t bother with the Cascara. We’ve got ours from our friends over at Social Coffee & Tea who are absolutely quality fanatics.
Another really interesting fact with this product is it has been assumed to have a very high caffeine content. The assumption based on the buzz that drinkers experience… is somewhat surprising since the scientific reasoning shows that it has about 25% of the caffeine content that is present in an actual cup of coffee. Potentially the extra sugar is compensating, but it is still a bit of a mystery (someone call Shaggy & Scooby).
How to Brew:
For the video impaired, here's a written recipe to hold you over:
Step 1: Boil the Water
We’re going to want the water to be at the temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit or 93 degrees Celcius. About 30 seconds off boil will get you there.
Step 2: Heat up the Chemex & Mug
Step 3: Add 20 grams of the Cascara to the Chemex
Step 4: Pour the 400 grams of water in the carafe.
The ratio which works best is 5 grams for every 100 ml or 50 for 1L.
Step 5: Let it steep for 4 minutes.
Step 6: Pour and Enjoy! If you’re not used to drinking loose leaf tea – use a strainer to make sure you don’t get any Cascara in your drink.
The great thing about Cascara is that it's actually quite forgiving when brewing. This recipe is what we've found the best results with the Cascara we had, but if you're using a different type feel free to play around with brew time and ratio to see what tastes the best.
What do you think about the Cascara Coffee Cherry Tea? Leave a comment or hit us up on twitter if you have any questions!