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All About Cacao

The Cacao Tree

 We’re pretty sure most would agree that cacao (and chocolate) is indeed ‘food of the gods’. Its botanical name is theobroma cacao – ‘theo’ meaning God, ‘broma’ meaning food. 

The coveted ‘food of the gods’ also has a fascinating transformation from spore to our taste buds, which is another reason we have a deep respect for this beautiful tree.

A native of the Amazonian rain forest, a cacao tree can grow up to 25 metres in height under natural conditions1, and aside from bestowing us with the gifts of its fruit, its visual magnificence makes it even more sacred. It sports glossy green leaves and sprays of dainty, angelic flowers, which develop into large pods rich with the colours of sunset…Heavenly!

The cacao tree in its natural form is an organically growing tree, and given some good quality soil, they thrive without much maintenance. They grow in hot, humid climates close to the equator and are most abundant as the solstices approach.  

Beans in a pod – or are they?

10,000 years ago, humans discovered they could eat the contents of cacao ‘pods’ through watching monkeys, but it was only the slimy pulp covering the ‘beans’ inside that was edible in its natural form.2  In fact, cacao trees bear fruit, however we’ve come to referring to them as ‘pods’. The beans inside are actually seeds, which are pinkish or white in colour, and up to 60 seeds can be found in one fruit.1 The beans are so well protected by the large, thick skinned pod and the coating on each bean, they’re able to maintain their naturally organic state.

It was later discovered that the ‘beans’ could be fermented and toasted to become the cacao we consume today. Thank the (food) gods! 

The magic of cacao husk

When we first tried cacao husk tea we couldn’t believe the taste! It has all the richness you get from eating dark chocolate whilst still providing you with all of the benefits of cacao.

The husk can’t be used in any other way so it’s like a zero-waste product that we just loved the thought of. For us, the epic global problem of food waste can be minimised with resourceful solutions, and this humble husk instantly resonated with us on so many levels. The western world is finally catching on and we are using the husks like the easterners have been using them for generations for its amazing health properties.

Delicious and sustainable! Now that’s our kinda product.

Cacao husks, also known as cocoa shells, are the fibrous outer shell of the cacao bean. The beans are removed, fermented, dried and roasted to sterilise it and loosen the husk from the bean. It’s an important step for the chocolate flavour to be released.

Then, the bean goes through a winnowing process to separate it from the husk, which then becomes cacao powder, cacao nibs and chocolate, while the husks are used to make delicious tea!

Our husks are imported from an organic farm in Huánuco, Peru and from an Australian cacao farm in northern Queensland, Australia.

The Joy of Cacao

And now for even more good news, cacao and its husks are really healthy, and not just for your body, but for your mind and sense of wellbeing too.

The benefits of cacao include:

  • It increases serotonin, which is the happy hormone!
  • Contains anandamide, which acts as an antidepressant and boosts feelings of happiness and joy
  • Contains theobromine, which gives you a natural pick me up – it’s like caffeine but without the intensity or the crash due to its low GI rating, which means it’s…
  • Perfect for the caffeine sensitive, and
  • High in dietary fibre3

We’re sure you don’t need convincing – who doesn’t love chocolate? It’s a complete bonus that it’s natural, chocked full of health benefits, and makes your heart and taste buds sing with glee.

Explore our Tips & How-Tos page for the best way to use our cacao teas and body butter.

Sources:

  1. Ecophysiology Of The Cacao Tree [2008], de Almeida & Valle, Brazilian Journal Of Plant Physiology Vol. 19 N° 4, Oct–Dec 2007
  1. 2. Food of the Gods – The Cacao Plant [2017], Manchester Museum [UK], YouTube, sourced online March 2019.
  1. Cocoa Shell: A By-Product with Great Potential for Wide Application [2018], Molecules Review, Panak Balentic et al. sourced online March 2019.