rom the re-emergence of pour-over and hand-brewed coffee to the increasing demand for tea, the specialty coffee and tea industries have experienced a lot of changes in the past couple of years. Among those developments has been a new, exotic drink on the scene: cascara, also known as coffee cherry tea. While the beverage has been slowly popping up in cafés around the globe, it can still be difficult to find. As such, those who haven’t yet stumbled across the elusive cascara may be curious about what the drink actually is.
Cascara, which means “husk,” “peel” or “skin” in Spanish, is the dried skins of coffee cherries. These pulped skins are collected after the seeds (aka coffee beans) have been removed from the cherries. They are then dried in the sun before they are packaged and shipped off. These dried bags of coffee cherries are not unlike bags of tea—the main visual difference is the pieces of cherries are slightly bigger than a tea leaf and have a leathery, woody look similar to dried raisins or the shell of a nut. The neat part about this whole process is that not only does it allow for the coffee plant to be used in a creative way, but it’s also eco-friendly. Normally coffee cherries are considered a by-product of the coffee-making process and are either discarded as waste or used as compost. Now these cherries are being reused to produce a unique drink of their own. Coffee, tea or both?
Cascara is found somewhere at the intersection of coffee and tea—although it comes from the coffee plant, the drink doesn’t taste anything like coffee. Cascara is often described as having a sweet, fruity taste with notes of rose hip, hibiscus, cherry, red current, mango or even tobacco. Likewise, the tea does not have the same caffeine content as coffee. In the post “Cascara and Caffeine” on the Square Mile Coffee Blog, co-founder Anette Moldvaer explains that in August, Square Mile sent some cascara to a lab in Germany to test exactly how much caffeine the drink contains. Moldvaer reports: “As expected, [the] ratio of cascara to water has an impact on the caffeine content of the final beverage, while steep time seems to make little difference.” However, she continues, “Surprisingly, we found the caffeine content to be fairly low. Even at the strongest, longest brew, the caffeine content of cascara came in at 111.4 mg/L, compared to broad range of about 400-800 mg/L in brewed coffee.”
Cascara介於咖啡與茶之間，雖然是從咖啡類的植物取得，但喝起來卻完全不像咖啡。喝過Cascara的人常會形容：甜，具有玫瑰果、木槿櫻桃、紅醋栗、芒果甚至菸草的風味。同樣的，茶與咖啡的咖啡因含量不同。在Square Mile Coffee的部落格「Cascara與咖啡因」這篇文章，聯合創辦人Anette Moldvaer敘述到，Square Mile寄了一些Cascara到德國的實驗室，Moldvaer紀錄如下：「如我所預期的，Cascara跟水的沖泡比例會影響飲料的咖啡因含量，但浸泡時間的長短只會造成細微的差異。讓我驚訝的是，我們發現Cascara的咖啡因含量非常低，就算用最濃的比例、最長的時間沖煮，每公升Cascara的咖啡因含量不過才111.4毫克，相較咖啡一公升約含有400-800毫克的咖啡因。
While cascara isn’t exactly coffee, it isn’t tea either. Because cascara comes from the genus coffea instead of the Camellia sinensis plant, it can’t be classified as a true tea. Nor is cascara quite what some people imagine when they think of herbal tea, as cascara is made from a fruit rather than an herb. However, there are a number of tisanes made from fruit, so perhaps the best category for cascara is as a fruit tisane.
offee cherry tea may be a new drink for the United States, but it has been popular in other areas of the world for some time. According to the post “Buena Vista (Cascara) Tea” by coffee supplier Melbourne Coffee Merchants, “Coffee farmers in Yemen and Ethiopia have in fact been drying and brewing cherry like this for centuries—possibly since before coffee seeds were first used to make a drink.” Melbourne Coffee Merchants go on to say, “In these countries the dried cherry is often steeped along with spices such as ginger, nutmeg or cinnamon to make a fragrant drink known as hashara in Ethiopia or qisher in Yemen.” The drink is still popular in these countries today and is actually consumed more often than coffee in Yemen, as it is less expensive.
咖啡果肉茶在一些地方也許是新奇的飲料，但它在一些地區卻是熱門的飲料。根據咖啡供應商Melbourne Coffee Merchants發布的「Buena Vista (Cascara) Tea」，「事實上好幾個世紀以來，葉門和衣索比亞的咖啡農會將咖啡果肉乾燥化並將其沖泡來喝，甚至可能在咖啡豆被做成飲料之前就這樣做。這些國家會將乾燥的果肉加入香料，像是薑、肉豆蔻或肉桂一起泡，在衣索比亞稱為Hashara，葉門稱為Qisher」。現在這些國家仍然很盛行這些飲料，在葉門甚至咖啡果肉的銷量比咖啡豆還多，因為它比咖啡豆便宜。
While cascara has long been produced in Yemen and Ethiopia, coffee growers in South America (especially in El Salvador and Bolivia) have also begun to sell and export cascara. For example, Aida Batlle—a fifth-generation coffee grower from Santa Ana, El Salvador known for producing prized coffees—offers a cascara tea product available through Sweet Maria’s.
雖然Cascara一直以來在葉門和衣索比亞都有在利用，南美的咖啡農（特別是薩爾瓦多與玻利維亞）已經開始銷售與出口Cascara。例如薩爾瓦多Santa Ana的第十五代咖啡農Aida Batlle，就透過Sweet Maria’s來提供咖啡果肉茶。
s with most tisanes, cascara is made by steeping the dried coffee cherries in hot water. Because coffee cherry tea is relatively new to the United States, there is no exact recipe for brewing the perfect cup. This provides room for cafés to experiment with water-to-tea ratios and steeping times. As a general guideline, Square Mile suggests using a heaping tablespoon or two, about five to seven grams, per eight-ounce cup of water just off the boil. While cascara is already fairly sweet, some people recommend adding a little honey or sugar for extra flavor. Another option is to add ginger, nutmeg or cinnamon to the drink for a take on the historic qisher.
When purchasing cascara for coffee cherry tea, avoid confusing it with cascara sagrada, or Rhamnus purshiana. While this tea sounds similar to cascara, it is quite different: Cascara sagrada is the dried tree bark from the California buckthorn tree and is often used for laxative purposes. Although cascara remains somewhat rare, it can be found at several roasteries around the United States, Europe and Australia. Café owners interested in bringing cascara to their shops can purchase the tea from the aforementioned Sweet Maria’s or from roasters who sell their products wholesale, such as Square Mile Coffee Roasters and Verve Coffee Roasters.
在購買要做成咖啡果肉茶的Cascara時，要避免和Cascara Sagrada（通便劑）或Rhamnus Purshiana（表面活性劑）搞混。雖然在發音上聽來很類似，但Cascara Sagrada是加州沙棘樹皮的乾燥物，且常用作通便用途。雖然Cascara不常見，也可以在美國、歐洲和澳洲各地的烘豆坊找到。有意將Cascara進到店裡的咖啡店主，可以從上述的Sweet Maria或者銷售他們的批發產品的烘焙商那裡購買，比如Square Mile Coffee Roasters和Verve Coffee Roasters。
Coffee cherry tea also gives café operators a great talking point as they interact with customers. Many people are fueled by coffee, but rarely do they consider more than the taste of the coffee and what they like to add to it. Cascara remedies this; the dried cherries serve as a tool to teach people about where coffee comes from and how it’s made. The result is win-win: Cafés have the opportunity to educate and expand their audience, while consumers learn more about the coffee industry and try something new.