Tea has long been a source of comfort, healing, and flavor all over the world. One of the best things about tea is its diversity. From black tea to green, herbal to fruity, almost anyone can find a tea they enjoy. In recent years, another kind of tea has been added to the mix, cascara tea, which is actually made from the berries of coffee beans! Read on to learn more about this amazing tea and how it is a great source of antioxidants, providing support for energy, mental clarity, and overall health.
Enjoyed in the United Kingdom for over 350 years, tea is perhaps best known as the quintessential English drink, but its history actually goes back much further. The first mention of water flavored with herbs actually dates all the way back to 2737 BCE, when leaves from a nearby tree blew into drinking water that was being boiled for Chinese emperor, Shen Nung. According to legend, the dedicated herbalist decided to try the accidental infusion and much to his surprise, he found that he enjoyed it. The rest is history. As for cascara tea, its name originates from the Spanish word “cáscara,” meaning “husk.” Cascara is precisely that – the outer shell that surrounds coffee beans as they grow and ripen. So what is cascara tea?
From Berries to Tea
Often yellow or red in color, cascara coffee cherries grow on shrub-like plants across Africa and South and Central America, with each berry containing a small bean that is harvested, roasted, and brewed for the coffee many people drink everyday. For years, the majority of these husks or shells have simply been thrown away or composted after extracting the bean, but in recent years, the fleshy, fruity coffee bean cherry has seen huge growth in popularity. And while coffee shops across the U.S. – from your local cafe to big names like Starbucks – have embraced cascara for coffee, cascara tea is actually becoming just as popular. As the world’s centuries-long affection for tea combines with the natural benefits of cascara, cascara tea is popping up everywhere!
Potential Health Benefits of Cascara Tea
01. To provide a great source of antioxidants.
Found in different foods we commonly refer to as “superfoods,” antioxidants are vital to your body’s immune system and overall health. Their properties are known to protect delicate cells and cell membranes as well as reduce inflammation. And while fruits like pomegranates, blueberries, and cranberries are all known to contain high amounts of antioxidants, some people believe that cascara coffee cherries may beat them all! Reports show that cascara has a higher density of antioxidants, which means cascara tea may actually be a great source for one of the most important elements of the body.
02. To promote energy naturally.
In many ways, cascara is the perfect balance between coffee and tea. While its sweeter, fruity flavor definitely tastes different from the acidity taste of coffee, the fact that it comes from coffee beans – or in fact makes them – means that it’s caffeine structure is similar, just less. Studies show that cascara tea has about one quarter of the caffeine content compared to a regular cup of coffee. That means that if you’re feeling tired in the afternoon, but worried what might happen if you drink a cup of coffee too close to bedtime, cascara tea might be just want you need. Rather than drinking a sugary soda or processed energy drink, you can brew a fresh pot of cascara tea for instant energy support that won’t keep you up all night or make you even more tired when you crash from your sugar high.
03. To promote mental health and clarity.
While the high antioxidant content of cascara tea may help support your immune system, these little coffee husks can also promote your mental health. According to the British Journal of Nutrition, cascara coffee cherries support brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), an element that is vital for the brain’s clarity and ability to preserve memory functions. In fact, the study goes on to report that higher BDNF levels as supported by cascara may promote healthy aging of the brain, memory, and even feelings of goodwill and happiness. All that from one little berry!
How to Make Cascara Tea
Cascara tea is actually quite easy to make once you have the ingredients. Of course, finding the cascara itself will be the trickiest part, so check with your local coffee shop or grocery store.
A quick note of caution: When buying cascara berries to brew, make sure you don’t confuse it with cascara sagrada, which is a powerful plant-based laxative that is derived from the bark of the California buckthorn tree. Needless to say, you’ll have a very different experience!
Cascara cherries typically come dried, so all you’ll have to do is steep them like you would a normal cup of tea. Also similar to other teas, the longer you steep your cascara tea, the stronger it will be. From there, you can add natural sweetener like spoonable Stevia from Stevita, leave it out, or add whatever else you’d like. The best way to discover your favorite cascara tea recipe is simply to experiment. Your perfect cup will be unique to you!
Have you tried cascara tea? Experience this delicious beverage for yourself, and let us know what you think in the comments section below!