The Intricacies Of Caribbean Teas

caribbean-mint-tea
Fresh Caribbean mint tea!
caribbean-mint-tea
Fresh Caribbean mint tea!

By Minna LaFortune

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. May 20, 2016: Caribbean nationals are heavy tea drinkers but not only of European teas! Over the years, they have over the years developed a long list of natural teas from various plants or “bushes” that they use as hot beverages at various meals (breakfast, brunch, lunch and supper) and sometimes as medicines for different ailments.

Caribbean Teas therefore often serves a dual purpose – as a hot beverage to compliment a meal or as medicine.

My favorite teas are cocoa, chocolate, mint, lime leaf, ceracee and ginger teas. But there is a long list of other teas’ that are prepared and taken each day to aid the health of Caribbean nationals. To name all of them would require an extensive survey among Caribbean nationals in the region and in the Diaspora.

My favorite Caribbean Tea – Cocoa – is made from cocoa powder bought at the grocery store in a packet or can. Depending on the amount to be made, the powder is measured and added to boiling water; condense milk and brown sugar.

Chocolate tea is made from the seeds of the cacao pods which are picked from the cacao tree.  Upon maturing, the cacao pods are cut open and the cacao seeds are removed.

The seeds are then put out to dry by the sun in the open on zinc sheets, banana leaves or concrete pavements for about seven days. The seeds are dried to remove moisture and improve the chocolate flavor. They are then roasted  in a heavy cast iron pot to remove any additional moisture.

After the cacao seeds are roasted, they are then grounded into a paste using a mortar and heavy wooden pestle. The paste is then formed into  chocolate balls by shaping them with the hands.

The chocolate “tea” is then made by grating the chocolate balls on a medium grain grater, and then boiling the grated chocolate with ample amount of water. Dried cinnamon sticks or leaves are also added.

After it is boiled for about 10-15 minutes the mixture is sweetened with condense milk, brown sugar and salt and nutmeg. This is usually served with breakfast dishes, such as Ackee and codfish, fried dumplings and roast breadfruit.

Mint tea and lime leaf tea are made from the leaves of the mint or lime trees. There are various types of mint – broadleaf mint and fine leaf or black mint. The leaves of the mint or the lime tree are boiled for 10 minutes. The leaves are then strained and the liquid sweetened with honey or brown sugar. Sometimes milk is added. This is served at breakfast or supper.

Mint tea is also used as medicine to remedy nausea, stomach cramps  and flatulence.

Ceracee tea is made from the leaves of the Ceracee vine which is boiled for 5 to 8 minutes and then sweetened with brown sugar. It has a bitter taste and is often taken as a medicinal tea, but is sometimes served at breakfast or at supper times. It is also a muscle relaxer. As a medicine, it is used to stop stomach aches and to build ones blood.

Ginger tea is made from the grated ginger that is boiled for 10 minutes and then sweetened. It is often taken as a medicinal tea, but is sometimes served at breakfast or at supper. As a medicine, it is used to stop stomach aches, flatulence and  nausea.

Recipe for Chocolate Tea

 

Ingredients
1 cup grated chocolate balls
3 Cinnamon Leaves
8 cups water
a pinch of salt
1/2tsp Grated nutmeg
1 cup condensed milk

Method
1. Place grated chocolate balls and cinnamon leaves in a pot with the water.
2. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.

3: Pour through a fine strainer.
3. Add nutmeg and milk to taste. Serve hot.

Bon Appétit!

minna-la-fortune
EDITOR’S NOTE: Minna LaFortune is a trained Caribbean caterer and also president, Society for the Advancement of the Caribbean Diaspora (SACD). Check out her food group on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/bestfoodscaribbean/