Do you get your daily kicks from coffee or tea? Well, don’t worry anymore because now you can have the best of both worlds with coffee-leaf tea. That is if you can find the coffee leaves in your shop, but more on that later.
Coffee leaves are the actual leaves from the coffee plant (either Coffea robusta or Coffea arabica). They can be used to prepare a herbal tea. After being roasted, the leaves are ground up or crumpled, then brewed in hot water similar to normal tea. The resulting brew has an earthy taste but is otherwise similar to green tea. It contains less caffeine than either regular tea or coffee.
Coffee-leaf tea is so far not a common drink, but has been popular in some regions such as Sumatra and Ethiopia. Called kuti, it was drunk in Ethiopia, centuries before coffee bean roasting was invented. The locals there believe that the drink stems hunger and tends to energise both the body and mind. There have been historic attempts by coffee producers in Sumatra and Java to popularise coffee-leaf tea in the United Kingdom and Australia – it was even displayed in London at the Great Exhibition of 1851 – but the drink did not get enough attention to create a market opportunity.
This situation might change with new findings reported by researchers from the English Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in London and the French Research Institute for Crop Diversity, Adaptation and Development in Montpellier. The two research teams suggest that tea brewed from coffee leaves may have several health benefits. They discovered that coffee-leaf tea has more antioxidants than regular tea. This is because it contains high levels of the phenolic compounds mangiferin and hydroxycinnamic acid esters credited with lowering the risk of heart disease and diabetes, reducing cholesterol levels and protecting neurons in the brain. Mangiferin is a natural chemical normally found in mangoes while hydroxycinnamic acid esters have been isolated from blackcurrants and a range of vegetables.
The researchers believe the leaves of the Coffea genus have been overlooked because of the high value placed on its seeds, the coffee beans, which contain far fewer beneficial compounds. This might be the reason why coffee leaves are not yet widely available, but they can be found in some health food shops. A difficulty for more general adoption might be that coffee growers will want the leaves to stay on their plants so they can produce good beans. Coffee beans are the world’s second most valuable commodity after crude oil, with almost eight million tonnes produced and more than 400 billion cups consumed worldwide each year in an industry worth more than $66 billion.
And some final advice. Before going full bottle with coffee-leaf tea be aware that the researchers point out that more research will be needed to confirm the proposed health benefits.
- A survey of mangiferin and hydroxycinnamic acid ester accumulation in coffee (Coffea) leaves: biological implications and uses (Annals of Botany)
- Tea Made From Coffee Leaves May Be Healthier Than Coffee or Tea (medicaldaily.com)
- A hot hybrid: Coffee-leaf tea packs antioxidant punch (ctvnews.ca)
- The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf To Offer Free Coffee, Tea Wednesday For 50th Anniversary (losangeles.cbslocal.com)
- A Coffee/Tea Hybrid – Less Caffeine, Healthier than Both (foodbeast.com)
- New Kind of Tea Made From Coffee Plant (on.aol.com)
- The Coffee Tea Leaf: Yup, It’s Tea Made from Coffee! – Food News (thekitchn.com)
- Tea made from coffee leaves found to beneficial for health (refreshingnews99.blogspot.com)
- A Coffee Leaf Antioxidant Makes a Comeback (lef.org)