Around 1682, raw cocoa beans started being imported into the American colonies. Experts on cocoa have assumed these imports were for local production of chocolate in the colonies. This educated conclusion is plausible, but does not afford for the alternative uses of the cacao shells. A common use for cacao shells was crafting them into a tea, specifically, cacao shell tea. America’s First Lady Martha Washington preferred her chocolate as a tea. She would purchase only the cacao shells in order to steep them in “hot water to make a thin chocolaty drink that was easier on the stomach than oily chocolate.” The experience of drinking chocolate or cacao shell tea was not too unlike traditional teatimes. Ladies would still drink chocolate in the same fashionable way as tea, served with “cakes and bread and butter.”
Cacao Shell Tea
1. Bring 8 ounces of water to a boil.
2. While water is heating, add 2 teaspoons of cacao to your loose tea brewing device and place in mug.
3. Once water is boiling, take off heat and pour slowly over shells until mug is full. Let steep for 5 minutes.
4. Add sugar and milk if desired. Enjoy!