Coffee Tea
What the Heck is “Coffee-tea”?

For many tea lovers, coffee has always been a bit of an anathema. Harsh where tea was gentle, unnerving where tea was calming, and decidedly unhealthy in contrast to tea’s undeniable wholesomeness. The lines between the camp of coffee and the camp of tea have always been clearly and unmistakably demarcated. That is, until lately.

Enter Brian Foster: a native of White Plains, New York, and one of a small (but enthusiastic) group of people who are enjoying a most unusual tisane made by steeping the leaves of the coffee plant in hot water. Yes, you heard right, Foster and his fellow enthusiasts are making “tea” from coffee. “It’s fantastic!” Foster gushes. “It has a caffiene kick similar to black tea, and a really great flavor. I love it.” Foster admits that obtaining the leaves can be difficult, but not impossible if “you know the right suppliers or grow your own.” According to Foster, the popularity of “Coffee-tea” is growing. “Right now this is sort of a fringe thing. But everyone who tries it loves it, and it grows a little every day. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it on the menus of coffee shops in the next five years or so.”

The idea is not new. As far back as August 16, 1854, an article appeared in the New York Times suggesting that coffee leaves might be a suitable substitute for tea, as they contained caffiene and cost considerably less to import and process. Apparently, the idea never fully took off, probably due to the flavor of the resulting brew which was described by a writer of the time as “abominable”.

Whether or not “coffee-tea” will ever enjoy mainstream acceptance remains to be seen, but could depend on forces as simple as succesful marketing and promotion. “Look at Yerba Mate,” Foster reminds us. “a few years ago no one had heard of it, and now it’s everywhere. And the people who promoted it early are millionaires.”

Are you listening Starbucks?