It's All about the Ingredients

September 23, 2020

Do you know what makes a good cup of tea or coffee? It’s two things, really: good ingredients and good preparation. Both go hand-in-hand and play pivotal roles in making that perfect cuppa that hits the spot when you need it. 

Process and preparation are important because you can ruin even the most excellent of ingredients with the way you handle them. For instance, fresh, high quality tea leaves taste bitter if over-steeped. But it’s not just what you do that affects the end result - it’s also how brands make their products to begin with. The most conventional method of making beverages “instant” uses 1,000-degree heat to vaporize moisture instantly - while also killing the flavor of even the best quality tea leaves or coffee beans.

When the process doesn’t interfere with taste, good ingredients speak for themselves. You know it when you take that first sip - tea made with high-quality tea leaves tastes like a completely different beverage than low-quality, mass-produced tea, and the same goes for coffee. That strong and unpleasant bitter bite can come from low-quality coffee beans or bad roasting technique - often both!

CONVENIENCE THAT DOESN'T COMPROMISE QUALITY

We often mention our technology, and how it was developed specifically to handle the sensitivity of tea leaves. It produces a cup of tea or coffee that doesn’t taste instant at all. But, we also pay a whole lot of attention to our ingredients. At Cusa tea & Coffee, we put only real, whole ingredients in our beverages, and leave out all the junk you might find in other prepared, ready-to-drink or instant teas and coffees. That means no sugar, no preservatives, no additives and no fillers. Just tea and coffee, and real fruit, herbs and spices.

In our three years as a company, we’ve heard a lot of misconceptions about tea and coffee, and a lot of disbelief about the possibility of our instant products tasting good. We get it all the time: “Premium and instant can’t be used to describe the same thing!” It’s a tall order to redefine a word like “instant”, but we do it for more and more customers every day. It’s why we have a Try Before You Buy sampling program - we know that sometimes you need to sip for yourself!

Let’s take a deeper look at the ingredients we use and why they play such a key part in creating a dehydrated product that still tastes freshly brewed once you reawaken it with water.

BETTER BASICS: WHY WE SAY “PREMIUM”

Our tea and coffee tastes good because it’s made with top-quality tea leaves and coffee beans. In the world of tea, “premium” is specific - it means top-5% quality tea leaves, and we apply that principle to our coffee beans as well.

We get our tea leaves from hand-picked USDA Organic-certified tea plantations in Asia. When we started sourcing tea, we traveled to dozens of tea fields, and the ones we chose to work with were chosen not only for their farming practices, but also the way they treat their employees. They are far from city centers and run-off pollution from non-organic farms.

It’s more than location - we also take only the best part of the tea plant. We use the second pluck, which is the top two leaves and the bud - the tastiest and most tender part of the tea plant. Those leaves make for a smoother and richer cup of tea. 

It’s a far cry from the tea found in most conventional and mass-produced bagged teas, which are often filled with what we call “floor sweepings”. They use parts of the plant that get less sun and lack the flavor found on the top. In fact, they often include stems, which don’t contribute anything good to tea’s taste. They’re a different sort of product of convenience - it’s a lot easier to harvest entire plants than carefully pick the cream of the crop.

RAINFOREST ALLIANCE-CERTIFIED COFFEE BEANS

When we started developing Cusa Coffee, we were amazed by what we found from the coffee global supply chain. Frankly speaking, much of it is pretty dirty. So, finding a source of coffee that not only tasted great but was also beneficial to the local community and environment became a top priority for us. 

We were thrilled to find a coffee plantation that is Rainforest Alliance-certified and uses organic and regenerative farming practices. To earn a Rainforest Alliance certification is a big deal and takes years of hard work - several goals need to be achieved to qualify. 

First, the plantation needs to prove that they provide a living wage, as well as healthy working conditions for all employees, including all genders, races and ages. Second, they need to prove that they are protecting local biodiversity, waterways and land. Zero pesticides, herbicides or chemicals are allowed. Our plantation goes one step further by using regenerative agriculture throughout the farm.

The result of meeting all these benchmarks? Not only premium-quality ingredients that taste great, but also the peace of mind that comes from knowing that the cost of such ingredients covers so much more goodness than the ingredients themselves.

MINDFULLY CRAFTED HERBAL FORMULAS

When we set out to create our new line of caffeine-free, herbal teas, we wanted to offer something more than just caffeine-free and herbal. We wanted to offer a tea that is not only delicious as a daily beverage but also good for you.

We teamed up with local professional herbalist and licensed acupuncturist, Nicholas Wismann, who studied Chinese Medicine at Bastyr University, to develop a line of five functional teas: Everyday Wellness, Immune Boost, Deep Doze, Slim Savvy and Mellow Movement. All of these were designed for a specific purpose and are based on traditional Chinese medicine, helping to promote internal health. And, they taste amazing!

REAL, WHOLE HERBS, ROOTS AND SPICES

When it comes to ingredients like herbs, roots and spices, it’s key to source them whole and raw, even if they are chopped or ground before brewing. For instance, ingredients like licorice root need to be finely ground before brewing, to ensure we extract more flavor and nutrients from them. 

While it might be easier to source pre-ground ingredients rather than make the extra effort to grind them ourselves, we never do that. When you source pre-ground ingredients, you can’t control what else might be lurking in them as fillers. By sourcing ingredients whole and raw, we can control every step of the process to ensure the best result.

We never use anything artificial, fake or tainted. And we certainly never use lab-generated “natural flavors” that may qualify as “natural” but that don’t resemble the real thing.

USING REAL FRUIT BUT NOT FRUIT SUGARS

Similar to the herbs and spices used in our products, the fruit we use is real fruit that does not come to us as a powder or extract. We steep fruit in a dehydrated form - this ensures that fruit juices and pulp don’t get into the tea. That makes a difference because our products are sugar-free, and that includes no added sugars from the fruit used to flavor them.

Although the juice and pulp are left out of the process, the pressure and long steeping times used in our cold-brew process result in a hint of fruit flavor without the sugar and calories to go with it. It’s a unique feat - you’ll find that many products that are “flavored” with fruit yet don’t contain sugars are actually flavored with manufactured “natural flavors”. In other words, not the real fruit itself.

WHAT’S NOT IN OUR PRODUCTS

Toxic heavy metals. Pesticides. Toxic mold. As unpleasant as all those may seem, they are unfortunately very common in our food and beverages. They may leach into the soil or water supply, or even get into plants from the air.

We have two measures that ensure these unhealthy elements don’t get into our teas and coffees. First, in our patented process, we have a triple filtration step that ensures harmful elements are stopped at the micro level. Second, we test each batch for any elements that may have gotten in anyway, and don’t use any batch that registers any harmful mold, bacteria, heavy metals or pesticides - fortunately, they never do!

You’ll also never find ambiguous natural flavors in our products - we skip the lab-generated ingredients and only source whole, raw ingredients from real plants. The phrase “natural flavors” is a loaded buzzword in the natural products industry today. Many consumers are looking for products that contain “natural” flavors instead of “artificial” flavors because they think that it’s a healthier alternative. 

Unfortunately, that’s not true. There is little difference between natural and artificial flavors. Both are created in a lab - “natural flavors” are simply derived from natural sources, and only 80% needs to come from a “naturally occurring” source!

OUR COMMITMENT TO YOU

At Cusa Tea & Coffee, we consider many factors when sourcing our ingredients - where they are grown, how they are grown, who is growing them and how they are processed. Simply put, we go above and beyond when it comes to sourcing because we believe in good ingredients, sourcing them ethically and never including a single thing in our beverages that doesn’t need to be there. We could cut corners, save some money and use artificial ingredients, but we will never do that.

That’s our commitment to you - we will never create something that we wouldn't want to give to our own kids, parents or grandparents, or drink ourselves. One of the best Cusa Tea & Coffee employee perks is all the tea and coffee you can drink, and we sure take that seriously! Just like our employees, our customers are our family. We take our products seriously, and we take you seriously. We will only create healthy beverages that nourish the body as well as they nourish the soul.



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