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18 октября 2017, 09:54

Cascara’s the Coffee Tea Juice You’ve Never Heard Of

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Did you know that coffee is a fruit? Coffee beans aren’t actually beans, but the seeds in the center of the coffee cherry (which itself isn’t a cherry, but it’s still a fruit). When coffee is harvested, the cherries are stripped down to the seeds, which are then roasted for coffee. The husks are then usually discarded. Or they’re made into cascara.

Cascara is tea made from the coffee fruit. It isn’t coffee as we know it, because the beans aren’t used in it. It isn’t fruit juice, since it’s made by brewing the husks of the fruit like a tea. And it isn’t technically tea, though it could fall under the very wide umbrella of “herbal tea” (which is literally any plant material you steep in hot water to brew like tea but isn’t made specifically from tea leaves).

I attended the New York Coffee Festival over the weekend, where I first found cascara. Tucked between the endless coffee and scattered tea and pastry booths were Caskai and Nomad Trading Company, two cascara vendors pitching their beverages. I had a few sample sips from both at the show, and obtained a few bottles from Nomad for further research.

I’m sipping Nomad’s lightly sweetened cascara right now, and I’m still trying to get a handle on the flavor. I think I like it, but I’m having a hard time identifying it. Because cascara doesn’t use the coffee bean, it doesn’t taste like coffee at all. It doesn’t really taste like any normal tea, either, which leaves me searching for other beverages to compare it with. I’m sipping, and thinking, and sipping, and thinking.

Cascara tastes vaguely like yerba mate with heavy floral and fruit overtones. It’s a sharp flavor that settles on the back of the tongue and invites outside sweetness to balance it out, like very tannic tea. There’s strong acidity and a bit of sourness, but it isn’t unpleasant, and it has an aftertaste I’d almost call smoky.

The lightly sweetened flavor I’m trying has a hint of sweetness from Nomad’s use of coconut sugar. It’s a bit less sweet than Honest Tea’s iced teas, providing just enough mellowness to round out the sharp acid of the cascara without overpowering it.

Cascara is caffeinated, which I can really use this morning. The 12-ounce bottle I’m drinking has 110mg of caffeine, putting it on equal footing with coffee. It also has “natural antioxidants,” which is a really broad and vague claim (though the nutritional information also notes 13 percent recommended daily allotment of potassium, and three grams of protein. It definitely seems like it could be framed as a health drink along the lines of kombucha.

If you want to try cascara, your best bet is to live in New York or another large city with a bafflingly extensive artisan coffee culture. Starbucks tested a cascara latte at the beginning of the year, but not much has been heard since. If you’re in Brooklyn or Manhattan, though, you can look for coffee shops and health food stores that stock Nomad cascara, for the pre-brewed experience. If you’re adventurous enough to try to brew it yourself, you can find “cascara tea” or “coffee fruit tea” in loose, dried form on Amazon.

I’m enjoying this cascara, even if I’m nursing it very slowly because of the strong, complex flavor. It’s a pleasant alternative to coffee, especially the mediocre coffee available in the office (the New York Coffee Festival made me really, really appreciate just how good an espresso shot pulled by a skilled barista from a $20,000 espresso machine can be). I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for cascara in my neighborhood.

This is a strange beverage that’s still very new and rare in the United States, and it will be interesting to see if it catches on. This could be the new kombucha, or yerba mate, or cold brew, or flat white, or any other health/coffee beverage that picks up a lot of popularity in a relatively short time and becomes a standard option for coffee shops and grocery stores. Or it could stay a continentally rare weirdness, like Club Mate. We’ll see and I’ll sip.

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Source: https://www.geek.com/culture/cascaras-the-coffee-tea-juice-youve-never-heard-of-1719721/?source