Just as the language and culture of these beautiful islands reveals a melting pot of traditions adapted from different colonial and immigrant influences over time, teatime in the Caribbean is no different. Harnessing everything from the power of herbal remedies to the decadent richness of "cocoa tea" (more about that later), the tropical climate and rich soil make the Caribbean an ideal place for tea (and tea culture!) to flourish.
"Tea" is a broader term in Dominica, covering much more than beverages brewed with Camellia sinensis, the plant popularly known and used to make tea around the world. In the Caribbean, this tea imported from Asia is called "green tea" while blends made from plants, leaves, roots, and flowers are called "bush tees," sometimes used for medicinal purposes. In these cases, the teas are further defined by holistic categories as "hot teas" and "cooling teas." One of their staple bush teas is made from hibiscus, a flourishing flower in this part of the tropics. Aside from being incredibly tasty, hibiscus tea is said to help reduce hypertension.
Of course, since cocoa is the staple crop of Dominica, "cocoa tea" piqued my interest and it is exactly what it sounds like--brewed raw cacao beans. The beans are crushed finely and then combined with condensed milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, bay leaves, and sugar creating a truly flavorful and rich beverage. Served hot, it is often paired with a snack (like banana fritters!)--yum! It's also worth mentioning that a couple of the many benefits of cacao are its antioxidant properties as well as it also helps those struggling with hypertension.
The first teatime of the day traditionally happens in lieu breakfast, followed by a secondary tea time at mid-morning.
Just in case you haven't Google-d this already, here is a recipe for traditional St. Lucia Cocoa Tea:
Combine the water, grated cocoa, cinnamon and vanilla in a pot and bring to a boil. Let boil for a few minutes. Add milk and stir. Add the sugar to sweeten. Strain and serve.
Posted by Erin Schwartz
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