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?
I've brewed cacao nibs as a tisane before. Pretty good. Haven't tried the shells.
I'm not much of a flavored tea or tisane person (okay, not at all), but wow -- this is something I have to try. Just went to the web site you linked, and it's great that they offer samples. I'm looking forward to tasting this.
Hmmmmm, I wonder how much caffeine is in these.
I too have used cocoa bean mulch on my garden. It's funny, because it's used here and there, and you can always smell it from some distance away. I was walking in Lansing, Michigan this summer, just a couple blocks from the capitol building, and I smelled cocoa mulch...and sure enough I located the beds that had been mulched with it.
This sounds like a fabulous idea though, steeping it as a tea. Why not? I think it's so great when people find uses for things previously used as "waste". And using something for tea is so much more satisfying than using it as mulch...and then when you've consumed the tea you can still use the leftover shells as mulch!
I just added this tea to RateTea.net: Tisano Cacao Tea. Would I have permission to use a crop from this picture of yours on our site? It looks more illuminating as to what this "cacao tea" actually looks like than anything on the company's website! Let me know!
Thanks for the comments everybody.
Alex, sure thing buddy, go ahead and use the photo.
I got a small sampler at this years World Tea Expo. Not only makes a good tea but they are tasty to munch on.
Just enjoyed my first cup of the cocao husk, brougt back fom Thailand, and it is good; however, I m feeling pretty strung out right now. Apoarently the caffeine content is very high--perhaos will try my next cup ea4lier in the day!
If you like cacao husk tea, try to add little bit of mint. It will be even better.
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