Kishr: Spiced Coffee-Cherry Tea

Try kishr, an unusual and historic drink

Kishr has been drunk in Yemen for over 1,000 years; in Chicago, it's been drunk for just about a month.

Chicagoan Rowida Assalimy has packaged her family's recipe for the spiced coffee-cherry tea (also spelled "qishr"), a historic afternoon tradition in a country where coffee has been cultivated for centuries. 

A base of dried coffee cherries, aka the fruit that surrounds the coffee bean, is flavored with dried ginger root, crushed green cardamom and Saigon cinnamon, which Assalimy sources from local spice purveyor The Spice House. The cherries hail from the Haraz Mountains of Yemen, where they are raised without pesticides. 

Steep a bag in boiling water for eight minutes and lightly sweeten it with sugar or honey for a richly flavored, soothing digestif or a gentle morning boost, reminiscent of chai but with a strong cinnamon kick.

Assalimy describes kishr as both a cultural tradition and a wellness tea, thought to help the metabolism, boost immunity and aid in detoxification. Coffee cherries have less than half the caffeine of green tea, and more antioxidants, she says.

Find boxes of kishr ($14), packaged in eight individual-serving tea bags, at the Gold Coast and Bucktown locations of The Goddess and Grocer, and online at Amazon within the month.