What is cocoa tea?
It is a delicious, brewed chocolate drink made with ground cocoa beans, milk, sweeteners and spices.
It’s most often enjoyed hot in the Caribbean for breakfast.
Note, cocoa tea is not the same as hot chocolate.
Usually, hot chocolate contains processed cocoa or cocoa powder whereas cocoa tea is made with 100% pure cocoa beans.
The beans are fermented, dried, roasted, shelled and ground into a thick, oily paste. This paste is shaped into cocoa balls, cocoa sticks and cocoa squares.
I explained how to make Caribbean cocoa balls here.
Now, let’s get to the tea.
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How do you make cocoa tea
To make the tea, you’ll need:
- cocoa balls (or cocoa sticks or cocoa squares)
- sweetener of your choice like condensed milk, sugar or honey
- spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, bay leaf, or star anise
- essence like vanilla is optional
By the way, you can get cocoa balls on Amazon!
If you can’t find the balls, then make your own with organic cocoa nibs or beans from Amazon:
Time to brew.
Making cocoa tea
Place the water in a small pot on low heat and bring to a boil. Add your preferred spices. I usually add half a stick of cinnamon, a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, and one fresh bay leaf from my tree.
You can use dried bay leaves too for this recipe. And, check out how to make West Indian bay leaf tea and its benefits.
If I’m feeling a little festive, I also add in star anise. I usually keep the spice to make my own sorrel drink around Christmas time.
As the water comes to a slow boil, it’s time to add the cocoa. You can grate your cocoa balls while the water is boiling. But, like I mentioned in my cocoa balls post, I prefer to use the cocoa squares instead. It’s simpler and faster to use.
Add the cocoa and stir to turn the water chocolatey. Boil for about five to ten minutes. You’ll see the cocoa butter appearing as tiny oily droplets on the water surface.
Now, add in your desired milk and sweeteners. You can use dairy or plant-based milks like almond or soy.
As for sweeteners, choose between sugar, honey or condensed milk. If you choose the latter, you can reduce the amount of milk you add to the cocoa tea.
Some add vanilla essence too. You can add this at this point.
Simmer for a few minutes before removing from the heat.
Strain and serve hot with breakfast. You can have this daily for a nice chocolatey fix in the morning with your porridge or toast. I’ve added the cocoa to my oatmeal too. It’s tasty.
And check out the video.
Benefits of Cocoa and Cocoa Tea
There are many studies and reviews of studies that have explored the positive benefits of cocoa products. Most note these benefits are due to the high levels of antioxidants in cocoa.
This 2019 study cited many benefits like:
- improvement in insulin resistance by lowering serum insulin
- improvement in blood pressure
- relaxation of blood vessels
- maintenance of platelet function
- potential for cancer prevention
- anti-inflammatory benefits
- antioxidant activity
This 2017 study went into great detail on the heart healthy benefits of cocoa and dark chocolate. It showed cocoa consumption led to a significant reduction of both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. It also listed a number of studies that found cocoa lead to increases in HDL (good) cholesterol while lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol.
The study is jam packed with more research.
This one stuck out to me: studies conducted on Kuna islanders (they are indigenous peoples that live off the coast of Panama), who regularly ingest more cocoa than mainlanders, found higher levels of antioxidant byproducts in their urine. The researchers linked these higher antioxidant levels with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer in the islanders.
As you can imagine, there are tons of studies on the benefits of cocoa. Even the shells have nutritional benefits but I’ll stop here and get to the cocoa tea recipe.
Cocoa Tea Recipe
Cocoa Tea Recipe
- ½ cup grated cocoa balls (or cocoa sticks or cocoa squares) (64g)
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup milk
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 star anise
- pinch of nutmeg
- your choice of sweetener
- Add spices to water and bring to a boil on low heat.
- Add grated cocoa (or cocoa square).
- Boil for 5 to 10 minutes on low heat.
- Add milk and sweeteners.
- Boil until the milk is hot and the sweeteners have dissolved.
- Strain and serve hot.
See how to make cocoa balls too!
More Tea Recipes
Tulsi (Holy Basil) tea
Tulsi tea has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic remedies. It is a unique, exotic tea that tastes like cloves and herbs.
Soursop tea has some unproven clinical claims like being anticancer. Still, it is relaxing and has a unique herbaceous flavor profile.