Brewing Sultana clever-style
RoastYou don't need to roast Cascara, brew it as is. But in parts of Ethiopia they do roast it slightly in a pan, which affects the flavors in an interesting way. Experiment!
Sultana is the dried skin of the coffee cherry. Its made with the addition of cinnamon in the Bolivian Andes and pack quite a whallop at the strength those folks brew at. When you wet-process coffee, the skin is difficult to save, and usually becomes part of the compost mix for the farm. But in Arabia and Africa, the skin of the cherry is used to make a very potent tea called Qishr (also spelled Kisher). In fact, making a tea from the dried coffee fruit pre-dates roasting the coffee seed to crush and steep in water - coffee as we know it. Qishr can be pricey, and even now is often higher than the price of coffee in an Arabic market. If you like fruit-blend herbal teas, especially those with fruited flavors like hibiscus, rose-hips, tamarind, orange peel, mango, apple, you'll be interested in giving Sultana a whirl. It makes amazing iced tea as well, and with a very moderate amount of honey is quite pleasant. The best way to make Sultana tea is in a clever or even a French Press, or you can use any method you would use for preparing herbal tea. Brewing like filtered coffee does not work well although we were surprised by the juicy cup quality with a 3 minute Bunn Trifecta brew. Traditionally, Qishr has additions of cardamom pods and sugar while brewing, which works well with Sultana as well. Does it have caffeine? Yes, since all parts of the coffee plant do ...but we don't know exactly how much, and it will certainly depend on steep time and the amount used to make each cup.
This Bolivian Sultana is vastly superior to any Cascara we've ever tasted from El Salvador. The cherry skins themselves are clearly better selected and dried more evenly than we've seen in the past. We tested the Sultana at 6 grams of dried cherry skin per 500 ML of water. I enjoy subtlety and elegance in herbal teas. Those who want more intensity and fruit character will surely get it at a higher dosage. At 5 minutes steep time we find an intense golden raisin and tamarind flavor in the cup which makes lots sense all things considered. Rose petal and hibiscus come screaming out of the cup as it cools. There is clearly a relation here between Flor de Jamaica tea and Sultana. As the coffee cools a clear, refreshing rooibus tea character develops. At 10 minutes steep time the sweetness intensifies along with an herbal character. The nuance and subtlety of the hibiscus and dried floral notes begin to dissipate. The elegance of those notes get lost with the increase in sweetness. An interesting metamorphosis happened at 15 minutes steep time. The sweetness seemed to level out and an interesting orange wine character developed. This occurrence in natural wine making happens with more maceration time between the "juice" and the grape skins themselves. Accordingly this flavor seems to make sense. I happen to particularly like the mouth feel at this steep time but the acidity seems to be tad heavier on the herbal side.