“For those who find ‘tea or coffee’ a question too far first thing in the morning, relief may soon be on hand—a combination of both.”
Despite indications to the contrary, this is not some weird half coffee, half tea beverage (thankfully, because that sounds thoroughly unappetizing). Rather, the writer of this article is referring to a “tea” made from coffee leaves. And by tea, he of course means herbal infusion. Apparently, researchers from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in England and Montpellier in France have been investigating an infusion brewed from the leaves of the coffee plant. Although my first reaction was to be suspicious, it is an intriguing notion. After all, if you consider the sheer number of plants and herbs that are used to make infusions, why not the leaves of the coffee plant?
The researchers are investigating various possible health benefits of this new brew, such as caffeine content and antioxidant levels (does it all always have to be about health? I suppose that’s what gets research funding…). But perhaps the most interesting part of this article concerns the reference to the British attempt to introduce the coffee leaf infusion during the late nineteenth century. There were so many tea imports and blending experiments during that period that it’s not exactly a surprise that one or two got lost in the mix (besides, in the 1880s they had other things to worry about like the Boer Wars, a tea plant disease in Ceylon, and the return of the bustle in women’s fashion).
Interestingly, this coffee leaf infusion seems to be a known beverage in Indonesia, South Sudan, and Ethiopia. There is a precedent, so maybe this idea is not as crazy as it sounds. I doubt that it will appeal much to coffee drinkers, the infusion having neither the taste nor the caffeine content of coffee. Tea drinkers, on the other hand, might find this an interesting new addition to the tea and infusion family. This of course will depend on how much you like to try new brews, or how much you enjoy herbal infusions, but it might be worth a taste. I’m certainly curious.
See more of Elise Nuding’s articles here.
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