Drinks

Cross Your Teas

Tea made out of coffee plants is the hottest drink of summer
Photos: Katie Foster/Tasting Table
Coffee Leaf Tea

Cold brew, flat white, pour over: Craft coffee, in its many incarnations, is hot. So hot that coffee geeks have moved their interest beyond the bean to extend to the plant's other components. From leaves to husks, the java world is increasingly using the entire plant to create an array of coffee-based teas.

Coffee leaf tea, for example, is made from the withered and dried leaves of the coffee plant. With the body of black tea and the sweetness of rooibos, coffee leaf tea has intense earthy notes of green pepper, licorice and honeycomb, with a little astringency and a slightly effervescent quality. It's made like black tea and tastes equally delicious hot or over ice, and it can also be cold-brewed overnight. Studies have shown that coffee leaf tea contains high levels of antioxidants and inflammation fighters.

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One of the beautiful things about coffee leaf tea is that it allows for year-round employment for coffee pickers—the beans themselves are harvested seasonally, but leaves can be picked all year. That's why Max Rivest and Arnaud Petitvallet founded Wize Monkey, a Vancouver-based company specializing in the tea. "We found there was a good product derived from something that could solve a big issue in a major industry," Rivest says. Wize Monkey is currently taking preorders for late August delivery.

Coffee leaf teas from 44 North and Wize Monkey

During coffee production, the skin and fruit surrounding the bean itself is removed and tossed out. But it doesn't have to be—cáscara, or coffee cherry tea, takes that by-product, dries it out and chops it up to make tea, which reduces waste and provides extra income for farmers. It can be made hot (steep three tablespoons of the tea in 10 ounces of water for four minutes) or cold (steep six tablespoons of tea in 1¼ cups of water overnight), and served plain or with honey.

Cafés and roasters are starting to take note: Santa Cruz's Verve Coffee serves cáscara tea. At select Blue Bottle Coffee locations, it's sold both in packages and as a cáscara fizz with soda. 44 North in Stonington, Maine, offers it hot and iced, plain and with hibiscus simple syrup; partner Melissa Raftery likes the way the syrup mimics the hibiscus notes in the tea while highlighing the aromas of rose hips and sour tamarind. At home, she likes to give the tea a boozy treatment: "It's really good with rum and mint leaves."

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