Cascara: Coffee Cherry Tea aka, Coffee Berry Tea, and its numerous health benefits

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Cascara Tea is the dried husk of the coffee cherry and tastes fruity, floral, and mellow after brewing. It's low in caffeine and is packed with anti-oxidants... More than blueberries and turmeric combined!

Introduction

Here at Coffee Cart Boys, we enjoy nothing more than bringing to Southern California our exclusive, rich specialty coffee. Using locally roasted beans for our coffee catering events from our vetted and friend’s family-owned farm, we take pride in helping coffee lovers obtain the opulent quality and coffee-drinking experiences they deserve. However, there is an experience that many people are completely missing out on, and it’s simply a tasty, waste-eliminating and sustainable byproduct of coffee processing. We’re talking about the cultivation of “cascara”.

So what is, "cascara" exactly?

Naturally husked coffee beans in a bamboo tray

Cascara (aka the coffee fruit, coffee berry, or cherry) is the most incredible fruit tisane that creates a coffee-based beverage with a fruity twist. The term ‘tisane’ refers to fruit teas made from the infusion of spices, herbs, and other plant material; in this case, the ‘peals’ or ‘husks’, of the coffee fruit. Translated from ‘cascara’ in Spanish to ‘husk’ in English, cascara was once that wasted outer skin of the coffee fruit that has been since recognized for its advanced health benefits and flavor – flavor often described as a potent fruity tea with hints of cherry, hibiscus, and even mango.

Since the beginning, the Nicaraguan farm we source from leveraged cascara as an eco-friendly way to create enriched soil for our coffee to peak. But after diving deep and seeing just how diverse and delectable this byproduct truly is, we have since begun prepping it alongside our specialty coffees to develop a great alternative to decaf coffee. We don’t offer an official decaf coffee product yet, since it’s a very expensive and time-intensive process; a subject for another blog post down the road. Also bear in mind that we say it’s decaf because it contains less than 10% caffeine compared to our fantastic selection of regular coffees.

Important Note
Cascara Sagrada

The cascara referred to within this article is NOT the same as “cascara sagrada”. This refers to the bark of a North American shrub (one of multiple types being a buckthorn shrub)—often used in parts of Canada and the western half of the United States. Cascara sagrada is a supplement typically used as an all-natural laxative.

Its scientifically-named varieties include: frangula purshiana and rhamnus purshiana.

Sea buckthorn Bush with berries against the blue sky
While a buckthorn shrub and berries look similar to a coffee shrub and cherries, they're very different.

How is cascara coffee berry tea cultivated?

With our Nicaraguan Coffee grown in the La Dalia region of the country (4,000ft above sea level), our cascara cultivation features a process that happens at a mill, where a large, hand-operated machine separates the seed (coffee bean) from the ‘husk’, which again is the fruit and skin of the coffee cherry. Instead of throwing away these husks or reusing them as mulch, they are naturally sun-dried for at least 24-48 hours, bagged, and then shipped to your front door. All you have to do is brew it in hot water and enjoy. You can even cold brew it (watch a quick video recipe) and if you wish: serve it as an iced cascara fizz! We offer our own variation of a cascara fizz in our catering menu called, The Berry Tea Spritzer. Keep in mind that cascara will not look like regular tea. Being a byproduct of coffee, you will find it to be larger and have a more woody/leathery appearance, comparable to dried raisins or heavily roasted peanut shells. But don’t let that put you off, as the taste and health benefits are second to none.

Naturally husked coffee beans in a bamboo tray
Cascara manually being separated from the coffee beans.

The Health Benefits of Cascara Coffee Cherry Tea

With all this talk on how healthy cascara tea is, you are likely wondering what those said benefits actually are. So let’s start with the most prominent one, which is cascara being a profound antioxidant – coming in with an ORAC value of 343,900. In comparison, blueberries have 9,621, and turmeric has 127,068. The higher the number, the higher the amount of vitro antioxidant activity there is. This means that cascara is one of the most antioxidant-rich resources out there and towards the top of the superfood list based on National Institute of Health and Aging (NIH) and USDA data.  

Though antioxidants come in many different forms, cascara tea possesses chlorogenic acid derived from polyphenols. Simply speaking, this equates to strong anti-inflammatory, carcinogenic, weight management, and lowered blood glucose concentrations. Even more, it contains admiral levels of vitamin E, iron, magnesium, and just 100g of cascara equals the same amount of potassium as 6 bananas, which is half a bag of Coffee Cart Boys cascara. Some other leading health and wellness benefits include:

  • Works wonders for your digestive system and eliminating gastric problems
  • Helps your body fight off bacterial and viral infections due to high antioxidant elements
  • Influences mindful relaxation, zen, and improved sleep
  • Promotes better focus, boost memory, and supports higher concentration – caused by the prevalent euro trophic factor in cascara
  • Helps influence smooth skin and revitalized hair
  • Aids in reaching weight loss objectives
Young African American woman shopping at a local street market

Summary – A Delicious and Underrated Hidden Treasure

Up until recently and despite its sustainable use as an additive in plant fertilizer, cascara has been widely seen as a “waste” product of coffee rather than a delectable beverage. But that is far from the case. Intertwining both incredible health benefits and palatable, tamarind-like flavor, cascara is an impressive health and wellness agent that has been gaining traction in the coffee/tea industries, with us being one of them. 

In summary, cascara possesses a harmonic relation between coffee and tea, making it one of the most dynamic beverages on the market today that can satisfy both tea and decaf coffee advocates. This, in conjunction with the incomparable health benefits, became the catalyst for cascara becoming seen as more than just compost or biodegradable mulch and worth trying in a brewed form. Because in the end, there is nothing quite as gratifying as being able to enjoy a sustainably-sourced cup of tea while supplementing your nutrition with such a powerful superfood along the way.

Quick and easy to brew

Make every moment count and get ready to smile - enjoy the deliciously healthy benefits of cascara coffee cherry tea!

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Meet the Author:

Sean Ireton
Sean Ireton
Sean is our spirited Creative Director and CMO at Coffee Cart Boys. After mastering much of the digital realm, he steers our website and executes our marketing strategies. A devoted coffee enthusiast, Sean has spent over 3 years globetrotting locally and internationally to uncover the finest beans, techniques, and flavors. His mission? To share his wisdom, and ultimately help you fall in love with coffee's purest flavor, while learning to appreciate its history, processing, and more.

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Mobile Coffee Bar Menu item, "Mintea Mojito": Iced coffee cherry/berry tea with simple syrup, fresh mint and lime juice.

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Cascara Coffee Cherry Tea, mint, lime, and simple syrup

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Plain Cascara Coffee Cherry Tea (aka, “Coffee Berry Tea”)

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Cascara Coffee Cherry Tea, orange juice, cranberry juice & rosemary

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