I am opening the door again to cocoa husk tea testing. Before, I immediately turned it down after one test. I simply never liked it and stopped. Fueled by side of chocolate community that was also against the idea. From the time of harvest to pod breaking, fermentation, drying, storage, transport up to point it reaches the hands of chocolate makers. The husk is the most exposed to environmental contamination. After fermentation and before drying, if the process has significant gap. Ochratoxin may be produced by molds. It may also contain heavy metals, especially if the crop was grown near volcanic area. We are talking here of three hurdles; microbes, ochratoxin and heavy metals, most of which reside on husks. They claim, its removal takes away 90 percent of the problem.
While others say no to the idea, some still continue to venture with it. One chocolatier I know was against it before, but, they changed their mind and began serving husk base drinks. They experimented with it, their customers liked it and keep asking for more. What else can they do? Giving what customers want is essential to business. To battle the fear of danger, they are sending every husk batch for safety analysis.
For the start. I used ten grams husk to 150 ml recently boiled water. Steeped it for five minutes and filtered off. Adding sugar could make it better but I want the pure untainted flavor.
Husk is part of bean. I was expecting strong chocolate flavor but the experience was on a completely different level. It has faint brownie flavor with a sharp citrus kick. It has tarty aftertaste. Tartness gets stronger as the beverage gets colder. The citrus fades while the brownie flavor stays the same.
The flavor I described was specific to the cocoa beans on hand. Beans of different variety, location, and cultural practice may taste different.
Husk has other uses other than drinks. The global standard for cocoa mass husk content is about one percent. The lesser the better. However, husk, as I said is part of cacao bean. One may intentionally add more without label declaration. For the purpose of increasing yield in exchange for lower quality. It may be ground together with cocoa cake to produce a lower quality cocoa powder.
I tried another, but not husk, cocoa nibs instead. I was curious which taste better given the same set of preparation. Same recently boiled water, same steeping time and same weight.
The resulting tea was light colored. The overall flavor was also light. This might not be the right preparation mode. Bigger nib sizes and low surface area were hindering factors of flavor diffusion. Husks on the other hand are thin and have large surface areas.
This might be a good starting point for those who want healthier beverage but cannot take the strong kick of pure coffee or cacao.
I never filtered off the nibs. I was chewing it once in a while, while enjoying the light tea. This brought back the memories of a friend who was adding cocoa nibs in his hot coffee.
Repeated the nibs tea. Same set of ingredients. Instead of steeping, I set it to running boil for about two minutes. The resulting tea was cloudy brown. Might be due to some powdery nibs suspended in liquid by boiling. The chocolate aroma was strong while boiling but became light after. The overall flavor was also light.
Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.