Cascara: How to Enjoy Tea From Coffee Cherries

Written by: Garrett Oden

Did you know that you can make tea out of coffee?

You’re in for a treat.

Cascara tea is delicious, easy to brew, and tastes nothing like coffee. Yet, it’s still made from coffee, but maybe not the part of the plant you’re thinking of.

Let me introduce you to this fascinating tea beverage made from coffee.

What Is Cascara Tea?

Cascara tea is an infusion made from the dried coffee cherry. It’s not pure tea, but a fruit tisane. It gets its name from the Spanish cascara, which means “husks” (like, the husks of the coffee cherry).

As you know, coffee beans are grown inside these cherries. When the cherries are harvested and the beans removed, the cherries are often used for fertilizer on the farm. However, sometimes a portion of the cherries are dried and stored to be brewed.

Read: The Incredible Journey Of The Coffee Bean (Seed To Cup)

As far as we know, cascara tea originated in two places independently.

  • Bolivia. Often referred to as Sultana and brewed with cinnamon sticks to make “poor man’s coffee”.
  • Ethiopia and Yemen. Called Qishr and often brewed with cinnamon sticks and ginger root. A cheaper beverage than coffee for the impoverished.

At the farm level, cascara that’s meant to become tea is carefully processed. Moisture levels are monitored and the husks are raked to encourage even drying to reduce the risk of bacteria growth.

Without these rigorous standards, we wouldn’t be able to import cascara to the United States. That explains why few farms actually export it - it requires quite a time investment.

However, despite literally being coffee, cascara tastes nothing like the black liquid we get from brewing coffee beans.

What Does Cascara Taste Like?

Despite its creation as a drink for the poor, cascara tea is not flavorless or dull. In fact, it can be quite complex, fascinating.

It even differs wildly from region to region - just like coffee!

Most cascara tea has a flavor profile that’s sweet and fruity with a bit of an acidity tang. It’s pleasant, it’s refreshing, and it’s gentle.

Read: How To Taste Coffee Sweetness

The cascara that we served at the cafe I formally managed was incredible. It had a bright tartness, a rich honey sweetness, and a sweet cherry flavor. It was stellar hot, iced, and mixed into drinks.

Another cascara I tried also had a gentle sweetness and acidity, but also a flavor I didn’t expect...

Green pepper.

That may sound really odd to you, but actually, it was delicious. The complex spiciness and earthiness added a layer of flavor that everyone at the shop enjoyed.

Cascara can feature an array of flavor profiles, and exploring them is just as fun as exploring coffee.

How To Brew Cascara Tea

Brewing cascara tea is, for the most part, just like brewing any other kind of tea

  • You steep the cherry husks in hot water for a few minutes
  • You strain the husks
  • You enjoy the tea

It’s so easy, and it’s nearly impossible to do wrong - but let’s get more specific.

Some cherry husks and ground and cut into small pieces. These only need 2-3 minutes to produce a rich brew. Other cascara is made of fairly coarse chunks of dried cherry. These need more like 4-6 minutes of brewing.

Read: 5 Ways To Make Your Coffee More Eco-Friendly

cascara tea

Most cascara bags I’ve seen say to use boiling or near-boiling water. This works, but I don’t think it’s the best way to brew.

I consistently make better, sweeter cascara when I use water around 190 degrees.

Without a thermometer, you can tell that the water is right around 190 degrees when the kettle or pot starts making some noise.

A Recipe For Hot Cascara

Want a nice hot mug of rich, sweet cascara?

Here’s what you need:

  • 5g cascara cherry husks
  • 250g water
  • Mug + Strainer (Or Teapot)

Bring your water to 190 degrees and pour over the cascara huks in a strainer.

If the husks are slim pieces, brew for 3 minutes. If the husks are round nearly-whole dried husks, brew for 5 minutes. Once the time is up, strain and enjoy.

Read: Want To Be A Coffee Aficionado? Here Are 5 Things You Need To Know

A Recipe For Iced Cascara

Iced cascara is refreshing, gentle, and the right mix of sweet and tangy.

Here’s what you need:

  • 10g cascara cherry husks
  • 250g water
  • 250g ice
  • Teapot
  • Drinking Glass

Bring your water to 190 degrees and pour over cascara husks in a teapot.

If the husks are slim pieces, brew for 3 minutes. If the husks are round nearly-whole dried husks, brew for 5 minutes. Once the time is up, strain and pour directly over ice in a glass to chill instantly, then enjoy.

The key here is to double your cascara husks, thus doubling the flavor concentration. This allows you to dilute the brew with ice without watering down the flavor too much.

Troubleshooting Your Cascara

Cascara, just like coffee, needs a certain amount of time to brew. However, there’s also a point where it becomes over brewed.

Read: 7 Coffee Podcasts Every Coffee Student Should Listen To

If you don’t brew the cascara enough, the tea won’t have a strong flavor. To fix this, just add a minute or two to your steeping time.

If you brew it too much, it’ll be more bitter than normal. To fix this, brew for 1-2 minutes less next time or lower your brewing temperature.


Cascara is a fascinating departure from your regular brew, but, technically, it’s still coffee!

It’s sweet, it’s tangy, it’s floral and fruity, and there’s quite a bit of diversity from different farms.

We can’t yet take you on a cascara adventure, but if enjoying fresh, rich, and diverse coffees interests you, we’ve got you covered.

Our Coffee Club sends you coffee that’s been sourced from the world’s best coffee farms, roasted with precision, and shipped on the same day. It’s the easiest way to get uber-fresh (and thus, uber-flavorful) coffee delivered right to your door.

Check it out!