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Cascara: The Coffee “Tea”

A while ago I wrote an article for this blog about the herbal infusion made from the coffee plant. Since then, I have had a chance to explore it a little more, and can my experiences with it.

Cascara Coffee "Tea" (Yahoo! Images)
Cascara Coffee “Tea” (Yahoo! Images)

Although it is tempting to bill this beverage as one that might suit those partial to both tea and coffee, or who can never decide between them, it is actually something entirely different from either coffee or tea. Firstly, as it contains no Camellia sinensis, it is technically not a tea but a herbal infusion. And as it is not tea, it is not that surprising that it does not taste like tea. Secondly, although it comes from the coffee plant, it does not taste like what most people mean when they say “coffee” – the beverage made from the beans – as it made from an entirely different part of the plant.

Cascara, the herbal infusion made from the coffee plant, is brewed from the shells of the coffee cherries. Usually discarded in the processing of coffee, they are dried out and then steeped in boiling water, just like any other infusion. As the infusion comes from the husks of the fruit of the plant, it is not a huge surprise to find that cascara has a fruity undertone to it. Although it has a distinct taste from berry herbal infusions, those who enjoy fruity tisanes, or even fruit flavoured teas, might enjoy cascara.

Although I am not usually one of these people, I decided to give cascara a chance, and purchased some to try. I played around with amounts of tea and steeping times, and, after comparing notes with some friends, my conclusion is that this is highly subjective. The best way to find out what works for you is to try it for yourself, although since I found a lot of recommendations for 8 minutes of steeping time, that might be a good place to start.

But did I like it? I found that cascara tasted distinct enough from fruit infusions to not invoke my taste prejudices against fruity teas, but it simultaneously reminded me of fruity teas whilst also tasting completely unlike them. Despite this, I am not sure that I am a convert just quite yet. However, I am glad that I took the plunge and tried cascara for myself.

See more of Elise Nuding’s articles here.

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