Coffee, or tea, or both? When you wet-process coffee, the skin is difficult to save, and usually becomes part of the compost mix for the farm. But in Arabia and Africa, the skin of the cherry is used to make a very potent tea called Qishr (also spelled Kisher). In fact, making a tea from the dried coffee fruit pre-dates roasting the coffee seed to crush and steep in water - coffee as we know it. And even today, the price of Qishr is higher than the price of coffee in an Arabic market. Cascara is the name used in Central America for these fruit skins, and a perfect name for the tea made from them as well. If you like fruit-blend herbal teas, especially those with fruited flavors like hibiscus, rose-hips, tamarind, orange peel, mango, apple, you should like Cascara tea a lot. It makes amazing iced tea as well, and with a very moderate amount of honey is very pleasant. The best way to make Cascara tea is in a French Press, or you can use any method you would use for preparing herbal tea. Brewing like filtered coffee does not work well as it benefits from a long steep time (5 - 10 minutes), and you can make it a bit strong, then add water (or pour over ice) to taste. Traditionally, Qishr has additions of cardamom pods and sugar while brewing, and that is another interesting preparation with Cascara as well. Does it have caffeine? Yes, since all parts of the coffee plant do ...but we don't know how much, and it will certainly depend on steep time and the amount used to make each cup. What's interesting about this cascara is that it is dehydrated - part of a joint effort on the part of the folks at the Helsar micro-mill in Costa Rica, and a research team at the University of Costa Rica. They found that cascara has 50% more antioxidants than cranberries and are using dehydration for drying the cherry to near 0% moisture, making for a crisp and very edible product. Yes, edible! In addition to tea, try using it in place of dried fruit on cereal, yogurt, or even on its own. Expect to see the occasional stem too, easily spotted and removed. And while the final produce is not certified organic, they are only using coffee cherry from Helsar's three organic farms.
Cascara is very lightweight and voluminous, so we recommend brewing by weight (grams) as opposed to volume (tablespoons). We have found the sweet spot to be about 10 grams of cascara for every 340ml of water that is just off boil. Feel free to play around with steep times to get the desired sweetness and mouthfeel. We like to steep ours for about 8 minutes.
Makes about six 12oz servings.
Varieties: Catuai, Caturra