On Tuesday, while at work, I met a representative of "Tisano Cacao Tea." He and his partners import organic chocolate from South America and one day one of them had this wild idea: "Why don't we import the fibrous husks too and try to sell them as an herbal tea?"
According to Tisano's website, 12% of the cacao bean is lost along with these fragrant husks. I guess that means a lot of cheap chocolaty goodness is also being lost when these husks become mulch, compost, feed or whatever.
The husks look like this...
... and I have seen them before. In fact my wife and I once purchased several large bags of these sweet-smelling husks from a nearby garden store to mulch our front yard flower bed. It never would have occurred to us to steep them like tea.
But that's just what I'm doing now. I follow the steeping directions on the bag and sniff the brown steeping husks. My nose immediately tells my brain to release a flood of happy chemicals.
The resulting beverage is tawny brown and smells similar to a cup of hot cocoa. The taste, on the other hand, is pleasantly nutty and not super powerful. Instead it yields a more relaxed, subtle cocoa flavor. I am a fan.
Drinking a hot infusion of cacao husks in my opinion certainly qualifies as a "strange brew." Has anybody else ever heard about this?