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Cascara Fever: The Delight of Coffee Cherry Tea

Cascara Fever: The Delight of Coffee Cherry Tea

Introduction to Cascara Tea

Cascara is the dried coffee cherry husk that surrounds the coffee bean. It is a byproduct of coffee production that was previously discarded as waste. However, cascara has recently gained popularity as a tea made from the husks. The tea has a delicious fruity flavor and contains less caffeine than coffee.

Cascara tea is made by first drying the coffee cherries. The outer pulp and inner parchment are then removed, leaving behind just the dried husk. The dried husks can then be infused into hot water to make a reddish-brown tea with notes of raspberry, cherry, chocolate, and honey. Cascara tea contains about one-fourth the caffeine of a regular cup of coffee.

History and Origins of Cascara Tea

The word "cascara" comes from Spanish and means "husk" or "skin". Cascara was first used to make tea by indigenous groups in coffee-growing regions of Central and South America. For the indigenous peoples, nothing from the coffee plant went to waste. The caffeinated drink provided an energy boost and the dried husks were brewed into a fruity tea.

However, when coffee began being mass produced commercially, the cascara was treated as a waste product and discarded. In recent years, there has been a revival of interest in reusing the cascara. Independent coffee producers have started to find uses for the byproduct, helping prevent food waste. The fruity notes and caffeine content make cascara well-suited for brewing into tea.

Flavor Profile and Brewing Cascara Tea

The flavor profile of cascara tea can range from fruity and sweet to more woody and earthy. Much depends on the variety and origin of the coffee cherry. However, most cascara teas share notes of dried fruit like raisins and prunes, along with red berry flavors like raspberry, cherry, strawberry, and blueberry. There are often chocolate, caramel, or honey notes as well.

Cascara is brewed just like any other tea. The dried husks can be brewed with hot water for 5-10 minutes. The tea has a reddish-brown color and foams up when agitated, similar to beer. Cascara is quite acidic so it brews best at lower temperatures around 185°F. It can be brewed multiple times like regular tea leaves. The first infusion brings out the brightest fruit notes while later infusions have deeper, earthier flavors.

Benefits and Uses of Cascara Tea

Cascara tea contains several beneficial compounds and antioxidants:

  • Caffeine - Provides an energizing effect, although less than coffee
  • Polyphenols - Potent antioxidants with anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Chlorogenic acids - Antioxidants that may lower blood pressure
  • Rutin - Anti-inflammatory flavonoid with antioxidant effects

The moderate caffeine content provides a gentle energizing lift without some of coffee's harsher side effects. The antioxidants and polyphenols in cascara may help reduce inflammation, boost immunity, and promote heart health.

Cascara tea can be enjoyed on its own as a hot or iced beverage. It also works well in fruit-infused water or blended into smoothies. The dried husks can even be used in baked goods to provide a fruity, chocolatey flavor. As its popularity grows, cascara is being made into kombucha, soda, beer, and even tea lattes.

Sourcing High Quality Cascara Tea

With the rise in popularity of cascara tea, quality can vary widely. Here are some tips for finding good quality cascara:

  • Single-origin - Look for cascara that comes from a single farm or region
  • Organic - Choose organically grown and processed cascara
  • Properly dried - Drying method affects flavor; low and slow is best
  • Recent crop - Fresher cascara will taste fruitier and brighter
  • Fair trade - Support fair wages for coffee farmers
  • Sustainability - Using cascara prevents food waste

High quality cascara can make a delicious fruity tea while giving new life to a previously discarded byproduct. The revival of cascara provides economic and environmental benefits and satisfies our craving for new coffee experiences.

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