As Tea Week comes to a close here on Sprudge, we’re going ease ourselves back into robust coffee coverage (don’t want to pull a hammy, y’know), and there is no greater middle ground than coffee tea.
Coffee tea is nothing new to the specialty coffee world. Normally, its comes in the form of cascara, made by steeping dried coffee cherries—a byproduct of coffee production—to create a sweet, pipe-tobacco-like flavored tisane. But there’s a new product entering the market offering a new take on coffee tea. Made from the leaves of the coffee tree, Wize Monkey is rethinking coffee tea and hoping to provide a windfall for producers and pickers during the non-harvesting season.
For their lightly caffeinated product, the Vancouver-based Wize Monkey is working with Finca La Aurora, a coffee farm in Matagalpa, Nicaragua run by the Ferrufino family—the son, Enrique Ferrufino, is one of the co-founders of Wize Monkey along with Arnaud Petitvallet and Max Rivest—who have been producing specialty-grade coffee for three generations. After the three-month coffee harvest ending in March, Finca La Aurora lets the trees rest through the remainder of spring in order to regenerate for the next season. Then starting in June and lasting through fall, leaves are harvested from tree trimmings already being done to maximize the coffee harvest, ensuring the new product doesn’t disrupt the health of the primary income.
The leaves are then processed on-site in a method Petitvallet describes as similar to that of oolong, containing “notes of honey, hazelnut, some earthy layers, and happens to blend very well with all sorts of flavors without overpowering them.” Having sampled a few of their offerings, Wize Monkey’s coffee leaf tea is indeed a very mild beverage with a light, honey-like sweetness. It lends itself especially well to their Earl Grey, where the tea has a chocolatiness that lets the bergamot take center stage.
More than just an added revenue stream for the farm owners—which coffee leaf tea most certainly is—Wize Monkey is wanting to create a positive effect for the coffee pickers as well. Many of the people doing the actual coffee picking are migrant workers, traveling from farm to farm during the different harvesting seasons in order to make enough money to survive. This nomadic lifestyle can be especially hard on the children, who travel with the parents, rendering them unable to stay in one place long enough to attend school. According to Wize Monkey, by extending the work season from three months to something closer to nine, families are more able to establish roots. Petitvallet tells Sprudge that Wize Monkey current employs 100 people to harvest coffee leaves.
Looking forward, Petitvallet, Rivest, and Ferrufino are eyeing different processing methods—currently a “green” and a “black” tea are in the works—to be used both in limited quantity micro-lots and in their blends.
Wize Monkey coffee leaf tea currently has eight flavor options—original, earl grey, mango party, sunset chai, ginger lemon, strawberry hibiscus, minty marvel, and jasmine—that are available both in bags and as loose leaf. Their products can be found in grocers like Gelson's, Sprouts, Mother's Market, and Whole Foods as well as online via Amazon and their webstore.
For more information on Wize Monkey coffee leaf tea, visit their official website.
Top image via Wize Monkey
Sprudge Tea Week is presented by Breville USA.