Southern Folk’s Cacao Tea and Other Creations Will Make you Rethink the Cacao Plant’s PotentialAugust 21, 2017
Cacao hardly needs an introduction, lauded in both the taste and health-benefit department. And sure, you’ve had it in the form of nibs, hot chocolate or a finished chocolate bar—but how about as a warm, soothing mug of tea? Made with the cacao husk—the shell of the cacao bean that is typically discarded once separated from the inner nib, but in fact carries antioxidants—Southern Folk breathes new life onto the previously ignored (and thrown out!) part of the seed by having it form the basis of a tisane, which when steeped in water, imparts a most intriguing flavor that echoes the depth of chocolate sans any blaring bitterness.
Brew your own beverage with their Pure Cacao Tea (made with just the husks) or the spicier, ginger-spiked Cacao Ginger Tea, both sold as loose teas (which they also offer with tea strainers through their Cacao Tea Set); a warm mug of either variant with a good book or two is a great accompaniment to a rainy day. When the temperatures come rising however, an ice-cold bottle of their ready-to-drink Iced Cacao Tea—sweetened with honey and spiked with just the right amount of calamansi—makes for a great way to cool off, with the subtle (but present) roundedness of cacao as the backdrop to the Philippine lime’s vivacity.
Southern Folk offers different ways to enjoy cacao, which Tats Gaon and Chuck Tuaño grow from their own family-run farm in Bicol. For straight-up snacking, cooking, or for sprinkling onto your overnight oats, go for a pack of their fermented cacao beans or cacao nibs—a great way to get your chocolate fix in a crunchy, nut-like format. Also on their lineup are deep, dark tablea balls, to be prepared as an especially-robust tsokolate, and which also makes an appearance in their ready-to-cook Champorado mix. The young company has also begun to dabble into the bean-to-bar craft (albeit on a smaller scale at the moment) with their barks, strewn with cacao nibs and pili nuts.
Our parents transferred their love of tsokolate to [us]. When we think of hot chocolate, we don’t crave the instant kind. We cling to the process of making it—taking out the pot, melting the tablea in the boiling water, stirring it until it reaches the thick consistency we like, [and] the kitchen smelling like chocolate.”
Owned by the Gaon family, the Southern Folk farm is located on the foothills of Mt. Isarog, Camarines Sur—an area naturally in fertile volcanic soil, which naturally provides the essential nutrients that can support the growth of good quality crops. It was their parents who started farming, initially just as a hobby—but upon their retirement, this would develop into a small but full-time farm housing a variety of produce (including coconut, rambutan, sweet potato, and cacao) and employing organic and sustainable practices. Growing up, their family members would churn out tablea and tsokolate, though initially only for personal consumption. Thanks to the prodding of a family members and friends however, they would start exploring the idea of making a business of these products—with the goal of not only showcasing their creations, but also sparking the youth’s interest on the Theobroma cacao plant and its wide potential.
“For the most part, our goal is to really reintroduce cacao to the younger generation,” shares the Southern Folk team. “But we . . . want to provide new and unique cacao products . . . Cacao has so much depth in flavor and can be enjoyed in many ways outside of the normal chocolate bar, and that’s what we want people to experience.”
Southern Folk offers cacao-based products, with cacao grown from their own family-based farm on the foothills of Mt. Isarog.
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