Big Island Coffee Roasters - Coffee Cherry Tea

Last month, we posted a #CoffeeStory on our great experience with Big Island Coffee Roasters' Kazumura Estate coffees - one processed by a Kenya washed method, the other by the natural (or dry process) method. One aspect we love about Big Island (amongst many!) is how they continually experiment with the coffee they grow on their estate - not only with respect to coffee cultivars (their Puna Kazumura is a mix of red caturra, red catuai, pache, and bourbon - cultivars that are more rare in a growing region where Kona Typica reigns) but also with respect to processing methods, as is evident with the two coffees we experienced. Another example of this experimental approach is Big Island's recently released Coffee Cherry Tea - also known as Cascara. Cascara is Spanish for 'husk' or 'skin', and it is the dried fruit of the coffee cherry resulting from removal of the coffee seed. Cascara tea has traditional been a popular drink in Central American coffee-growing countries (particularly Boliva and El Salvador), but here too Big Island added their own twist: whereas Cascara is traditionally made from the coffee fruit removed for washed process coffees and subsequently dried separately from the beans (meaning the fruit was removed from the seed/bean very soon after picking), Big Island's Cascara is the dried fruit from their Kazumura Natural coffee (meaning the fruit was dried with the coffee seed/bean). As a result, Big Island's Coffee Cherry Tea also includes the parchment of the coffee - the thin protective layer around the coffee seed. How does it taste? Lucky for us, Big Island was kind enough to include a bag in our last shipment of coffee beans - and we'd love to share our experience with you!

We've tried Cascara before - in fact, Cascara from Hawaii - when we visited Hula Daddy Coffee in Kona on our honeymoon and brought home a bag. Whereas the Hula Daddy Coffee Cherry Tea (made from the fruit of a coffee destined for the washed process method) is a bright citrus and cherry, the Big Island Coffee Cherry Tea has added dimensions of different flavors: we taste rich golden raisin and honey, vanilla, soft bing cherry, and fresh green grape. Big Island's tea has a really unique silkiness that adds depth beyond just a dried fruit, an element that I presume is due to the added parchment layer included in the tea. It's bright and fruity, but the acidity is soft and restrained in such a way that allows one to experience the sublime sweetness of the the tea.

Big Island's Cascara is tasty as a hot tea, but we particularly like it iced to make for a refreshing summer drink (which given the hot weather in San Diego lately, is much needed!). We brew it in our Espro press (but a regular french press would do just as well) with a 1:10 ratio of Cascara to water, and steep in near-boiling water for 4 minutes. While it's steeping, we fill our v60 carafe with the same mass of ice cubes as the water steeping the tea and rinse a v60 filter. Once the tea is done steeping, we plunge the french press and pour into our v60 filter - ensuring the tea is very clean - and swirl until the ice is melted. Serve on ice, and you're good to go!

Looking for a special adult beverage? Try adding a shot of Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon to the iced tea (or any whiskey you have, but we like how the fruity/caramel profile of the Four Roses melds with the Cascara's fruity flavors) - we call it the Big Island Iced Tea ;-). If you're looking to try something new that falls somewhere between 'coffee' and 'tea', then look no further than Big Island's Coffee Cherry Tea!

Andrew & Victoria