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Cascara Tea: Legality, Brewing, and Market Insights for Coffee Professionals

Cascara Tea: Legality, Brewing, and Market Insights for Coffee Professionals

By Dale Goulding, ,

What is Cascara Tea?

Cascara tea is an infusion made from the dried skins of coffee cherries. Known for its sweet, fruity flavour and low caffeine content, cascara provides a unique beverage option distinct from both coffee and traditional teas. Historically consumed in coffee-growing regions like Yemen and Ethiopia, it has recently gained popularity worldwide as a sustainable product that utilises parts of the coffee plant that would otherwise be discarded.

How Cascara is Made?

Cascara is produced through a simple process. After coffee cherries are harvested, the beans are separated from the fruit. The outer skins, which are typically considered waste, are cleaned and then sun-dried similar to the Natural process to create cascara. This process ensures that the cascara retains its natural sweetness and fruity flavour, making it suitable for brewing into tea or other beverages. The drying process can take several days, depending on weather conditions and the desired moisture content.

What Does Cascara Tea Taste Like?

Cascara tea boasts a unique flavour profile that sets it apart from other teas and coffees. It typically has a sweet, fruity taste with notes of cherry, hibiscus, red currant, and a hint of rosehip. This refreshing and slightly sweet flavour makes it an appealing choice for those looking for a new type of infusion. The taste can vary slightly depending on the coffee variety and the drying process, but it consistently offers a pleasant and distinctive experience.

Does Cascara Tea Have Caffeine?

Yes, cascara tea does contain caffeine, but in significantly lower amounts than brewed coffee. On average, a cup of cascara tea has about a quarter of the caffeine content found in a typical cup of coffee. This makes it a suitable option for those looking to reduce their caffeine intake while still enjoying a flavorful beverage. The exact caffeine content can vary depending on the specific cascara used and the brewing method.

What are the Origins of Cascara as a Tea?

Cascara has deep roots in coffee-growing regions, particularly in Yemen and Ethiopia, where it has been consumed for centuries. Known locally as "Qishr" in Yemen and "Hashara" in Ethiopia, cascara has been traditionally brewed into tea by these communities. Its use has historically been a way to utilise all parts of the coffee plant, reducing waste and maximising the benefits of the harvest. Today, cascara is gaining recognition globally for its sustainability and unique flavour.

How to Buy Cascara Tea?

Cascara tea can be found at specialty coffee shops, online retailers, and some health food stores. When purchasing cascara, it's important to ensure it is sourced from reputable producers who adhere to sustainable and ethical practices. Look for products that provide information about their origin and processing methods to guarantee quality. We currently offer Cascara in 1 kg and 2 kg increments from Migoti Coffee a Burundi Coffee producer who are using Cascara as a product to facilitate paying farmers a higher cherry price.

How to Sell Cascara?

For coffee roasters, cascara presents an excellent opportunity to diversify product offerings and promote sustainability. Market cascara as an eco-friendly and innovative product that supports coffee farmers by utilising a byproduct of coffee production. Emphasise its unique flavour, versatility, and health benefits. Many cafe’s will be open to offering Cascara as an alternative to coffee. Offering cascara can attract environmentally conscious consumers and those looking for new and interesting beverage options. Hosting tasting events or providing brewing guides can also help introduce cascara to new customers.

How to Brew Cascara Tea?

How to make tea with cascara

Ingredients and Equipment:
  • 20 grams of cascara
  • 300 millilitres of hot water (around 90°C)
  • A teapot or a French press
  • A strainer (if using a teapot)
  • Measure and Combine:
  • Measure 20 grams of cascara and place it in your teapot or French press.
  • Heat the water to around 90°C.
  • Pour 300 millilitres of hot water over the cascara.
  • Allow the cascara to steep for 4-7 minutes. Adjust the steeping time based on your taste preference.
  • If using a teapot, strain the tea to remove the cascara pieces. If using a French press, simply press the plunger down.

How to make cold brew with Cascara

Ingredients and Equipment:
  • 20 grams of cascara
  • 300 millilitres of cold water
  • A jar or pitcher
  • A strainer or fine mesh sieve
  • Measure and Combine:
  • Measure 20 grams of cascara and place it in a jar or pitcher.
  • Add 300 millilitres of cold water.
  • Stir gently to ensure the cascara is fully submerged.
  • Cover the jar and let it steep in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours. The longer it steeps, the stronger the flavor will be.
  • After steeping, strain the mixture using a strainer or fine mesh sieve to remove the cascara.

What are the Health Benefits of Cascara?

Cascara is rich in antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation and promote overall health. It is also low in calories and contains essential nutrients like potassium. These properties make cascara a healthy addition to any diet. Some studies suggest that the antioxidants in cascara can help improve digestion and support cardiovascular health. However, more research is needed to fully understand the extent of these benefits. Consuming cascara as part of a balanced diet can contribute to overall well-being.

Is Cascara Banned in the UK?

Cascara is not banned in the UK, but it must comply with food safety regulations. The UK authorities require proof of safety for novel foods before they can be marketed and sold. As a result, cascara must undergo appropriate testing and approval processes. Despite these regulatory hurdles, cascara is available in the UK and continues to grow in popularity as more people discover its unique benefits and flavours.

Is Cascara Banned in the EU?

Yes, cascara is currently banned in the EU due to its classification as a "novel" food under a 1997 regulation. This classification requires safety approval before it can be sold. The approval process has been slow and complicated, with ongoing efforts to meet regulatory requirements. Despite this, there is significant interest in cascara within the EU, and efforts are underway to secure approval for its sale and consumption.

Is Cascara Banned in the US?

No, cascara is not banned in the US. It is available for sale, though it remains a relatively niche product in the market. As awareness of cascara's unique benefits and flavours grows, its popularity is expected to increase. In the US, cascara can be found in specialty coffee shops, online retailers, and some health food stores, providing ample opportunities for consumers to explore this unique tea.