Technically it’s not a tea...
Though that’s what many call it, as it does not contain camellia leaves. It is definitely not coffee, though it grows on a coffee plant and protects the beans we coffee lovers adore. It is an infusion of sorts, dried fruit steeped in water. The official name of this category of beverage is tisane, but doesn’t Cascara Tisane sound a bit pretentious? So we will go with Cascara: Loose Fruit Tea. It has lower levels of caffeine than coffee but still leaves you with a refreshing, energetic buzz. Coffee fruit is sweet and juicy with a honey like substance surrounding the beans. This natural sweetness comes to life when brewed. You can enjoy it hot or cold, brewed, stewed, steeped, infused, or pressed. Pick your term because this non-coffee, non-tea drink is blending these two categories into something new that even strictest coffee drinkers and the most ostentatious tea consumers can come together and enjoy.
Cascara is processed alongside coffee as it stems from the same plant. The first step in processing coffee, once it has been harvested, is to de-pulp the beans from the coffee cherry. Historically in Guatemala this husk or fruity shell was then carried back to the coffee fields and used as a natural compost. Now cooperative members are using this by-product to generate additional income. Once the beans and the fruit have been separated the fruit is set out to dry in the sun. Just as coffee is frequently turned by raking to ensure the beans dry slowly and evenly, the cascara fruit castings are also regularly turned for an even drying. Once dried the loose fruit tea is packed into the same burlap sacks to ensure the quality and aroma lasts until it gets enjoyed by you. Check out our recipe at the bottom of this blog for some delicious drink inspiration! (We have a whole recipe book coming out soon - stay tuned)
This new beverage is actually not so new, it was consumed in Yemen and Ethiopia even before coffee was and is growing in popularity in other countries like Bolivia and El Salvador. However it does have a new buzz around it as people all over the world are realizing this delicious outer casting of coffee fruit makes a pretty delicious drink, hot or cold, and goes great in cocktails. This new excitement is creating new economic opportunities for the coffee farmers we partner with here in Guatemala because now rather than composting their cascara they are processing it into this high quality, natural tea fruit infusion, earning additional income from what was previously considered waste.
Bubbly Cascara Cold Brew
Makes enough to share
- Soak a 1/2 lb of cascara in 3/4 of a gallon of water and leave for 24 hours in a cool dark place
- Mix with Sparkling Water (about 1/3rd sparking water to 2/3rds of tea)
- Add a heavy pour of Honey to sweeten the tea to your liking.
- Add some fresh squeezed lemon if that fits your fancy
(Keep refrigerated to limit fermentation process)