I love discovering new tastes and my friend Elexis brought me back this new experience from Peru that I am excited to share with you. Cacao husk tea is the shell of the cacao bean after it has been fermented, dried and roasted and then broken off from the bean itself. The bean is used for our beloved chocolate, but the husks have amazing flavor and nutrients when steeped.
The look: Cacao husk tea looks more like potpourri than tea or herb, really. Lightweight, sizeable, medium brown pieces dotted with whole dried stevia leaves.
The scent: This is one of those times when the dry, in this case ‘husks’ rather than ‘leaves’, smell the same as the steeped tea does: like a fresh, good quality milk chocolate bar. Other reviews said ‘dark chocolate’, but I smelled milk chocolate. Who knows what you’ll smell when you try it! Fudge? (Elexis has also been offering me great fudge lately, so I have fudge on the brain. I’m hoping it doesn’t go anywhere else. )
The color: It came out a beautiful amber color. Like that prehistoric bug encased in amber in Jurassic Park, but without the bug part.
Steeping: There wasn’t any steeping advice on the package. In one way that’s annoying but in another way it leaves the door for experimentation wide open...and of course, internet searching. Generally, most sources said to use boiling water, as with most herbs, and to steep between 5-10 minutes. After experimenting I found I liked the 5-7 minute range best.
Taste: It resulted in a soft, aromatic cocoa taste that has just a hint of sour at the end. It even felt a bit creamy even though there is nothing creamy in it. More time brought out more of that sourness and that just isn’t my thing.
I tried adding sweetener first and then milk but found I liked it best plain. In the 5 minute steep the sweetener was ok. I used honey once and sugar another time. I think the sugar paired better. Honey is a bit too, “Look at me!” (Yeah, honey, I love ya.)
The particular brand I had includes dried stevia leaves for natural sweetness and they perform beautifully. The chocolate scent and flavor is enhanced by the stevia. Those who are used to sugar, honey or just greater sweet taste in general will want to add their sweetener of choice.
The milk covered the lovely chocolate flavor rather than enhanced it. Extending the steep time didn’t really change this. It just made the tea more sour instead of more robust.
Is it caffeinated?: No, it doesn’t have caffeine like tea or coffee, but like tea it does have theobromine, a slower acting, weaker stimulant.
Nutrients/minerals: It is high in magnesium, antioxidants and has the “bliss chemical” anandamide.
My internet search also revealed that cacao husk flavor is impacted by it’s origin and conditions like our beloved camelia-sinensis is:
“Depending on where the husk is from, there's subtle variation in the taste and aroma of the brew. Each single origin husk taking on its own unique flavour profile.”
More options: I mixed the cacao husk with black tea and really liked it. They work well together. Another idea I had but haven’t yet tried is to steep the husks in simmering milk directly to see if a latte-like taste could be achieved.
Elexis also told me about a crazy fruit she had in Peru that looked kind of like brains but tasted great. She was surprised to find some at a local market here and got me one so I could have the sweet grey jiggling experience myself.
The fruit is called granadilla. Though the look of it on the inside is a bit funky, the great taste is worth it. The flavor reminded me a bit of lychee, perhaps slightly less sweet and the texture like a passion fruit (it is in the same family). It was juicy and had seeds that gave a satisfying crunchy texture.
Have you ever had cacao husk tea or a granadilla? Have you ever visited Peru? Let us know. If you’d like to see more, my friend took some great pictures on her trip and you can view them on her Instagram.
Wishing you continued adventures in tea and life!
this is not a sponsored post
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