Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 8th 2018 Contents SUNDAY 8 APRIL, 2018 -- UWI TODAY 9
SWEET HANDS AT COCOA RESEARCH CENTRE
One of life's greatest joys, especially if it is cold, or if you're
feeling miserable and in urgent need of a pick-me-up, is a
lovely large comforting mug of hot chocolate. A stress-buster
like no other, there's just something about the taste that can
make your eyelids lower, your toes curl, and your emotions
bliss out in an unaccountable surge of wellbeing.
At the end of the working week, those in the know
are popping over on Friday mornings to e UWI's Frank
Stockdale building in St. Augustine to get their hit of
delicious hot chocolate, or as we in the Caribbean call it,
"cocoa-tea". Every Friday from mid-morning there is cocoa-
tea on o er, as well as a few chocolate treats, in the relaxing
ambience of the building's foyer, just in front of the Cocoa
Research Centre. You can also get chilled cocoa-tea.
Get there and you'll be greeted by the smile of Mrs. Lyris
Hazard-Wilson, the person mixing and selling the cocoa-
tea in the traditional way her mother used to make. e
cocoa-tea base itself is a special mix created by the Cocoa
Research Centre, derived from its own cocoa beans and its
longstanding research into making ne avours.
When I tasted the cocoa-tea, it had an earthy, sweet taste
to it, balanced and very satisfying, with just a hint of spice. It
went down smoothly, with the traditional cocoa oils swirling
slightly at the top. To my untutored palate, the taste was more
subtle and delicious than many leading foreign brands of
drinking chocolate, which can taste vapid and overly sweet
by comparison: many commercial blends actually use far
less of the cocoa's nutritional goodness (contained in the
oils) and add a great deal of sugar, corn syrup and vegetable
oils. Not so with this CRC blend.
Drinkable chocolate has been used for years to treat
maladies: and it's not just old wive's tales. Antioxidants in
chocolate are said to help prevent cancer, heart disease,
age-related macular degeneration and aging in general
because they ght free radicals in the body. According to a
2003 study conducted at Cornell University, the antioxidant
concentration in hot cocoa is almost twice as strong as red
wine. Cocoa's concentration was found to be two to three
times stronger than that of green tea and four to ve times
stronger than that of black tea. Professor Chang Yong Lee,
the leader of the Cornell study, added that the "hot" in
"hot chocolate" is important as well. More antioxidants are
released when it's heated up, reported Melissa Breyer writing
in the November 2012 online issue of e Mother Nature
Citing the study, she went on to note that a cup of hot
cocoa contains 611 milligrams of the phenolic compound
gallic acid equivalents (GAE) and 564 milligrams of the
avonoid epicatechin equivalents (ECE). e antioxidant
gallic acid is used to treat internal hemorrhages, albuminuria
and diabetes. Although a regular bar of chocolate has strong
antioxidant activity, the health bene ts may be outweighed
because of the saturated fats present --- cocoa generally has
much less fat per serving compared to the 8 grams of fat in
a standard chocolate bar. And the avonoids help your body
process nitric oxide, which is why hot cocoa can improve
blood ow, help lower your blood pressure and improve
Lyris, a caretaker at the CRC building, enjoys making
the cocoa-tea on Fridays to help promote the Centre's
activities. She has worked at e UWI for 23 years, and of
that time, worked 19 years for the Faculty of Agriculture,
before coming to the CRC four years ago.
She says she loves working near agricultural researchers
because of what they do: "the nature of working with
creation" appeals to her. She remembers being inspired by
the "cocoa dream" from a speech she heard at e UWI
many years ago.
"I used to make cocoa-tea for my kids from small. We
got cocoa-tea from Grenada in balls, and we would grate
it. We would grate about a st-roundness of the cocoa-ball,
put it to boil, and add bay leaf, spice, nutmeg, condensed
milk and a bit of evaporated milk into the boiling cocoa. We
would get about 10-15 cups of tea from that."
That smelled beautiful on a morning, and was a
traditional Christmas drink, she remembers: "You can't have
Christmas breakfast without that cocoa-tea."
"Wow! ere is always that pleasure in the eyes when
you feel the taste of cocoa-tea. ere is a smooth taste; it's
a di erent, stronger cocoa taste. Even before you add other
things to your own cocoa-tea, you could smell the cocoa
Lyris learned to make cocoa-tea as a ten-year-old from
her mother: it was part of their tradition from home, living
in Paget in the east. About her mother, she recalls: "She
loved food, she loved cooking. I was always interested in
being around her and learning."
"We make cocoa-tea for every guest who passes through
the Cocoa Research Centre," says Lyris. en members of
other departments began asking for cocoa-tea for their own
conferences. en just about a month ago, the CRC decided
to start "Fridays with CRC."
I was lucky last Friday to sample not only the cocoa-tea
but also a scrumptious blackberry chocolate ganache treat
on sale, made by cocoa researcher Naailah Ali.
I share an anecdote about a chocolatier called Rosemary
from 20 years ago, who once told me: "Chocolate is full of
love!" Lyris smiles.
"I love people. I love bringing pleasure to people's faces.
Cocoa-tea does that! And you know they say that charity
begins at home. No matter how much cocoa-tea I make here,
it is never enough! People come and ask for some, students
and their friends... You know, love goes a long way."
COCOA TEA FRIDAYS with Lyris
BY SHEREEN ALI
"Every Friday from mid-morning there is cocoa-tea on
o er, as well as a few chocolate treats, in the relaxing
ambience of the building's foyer, just in front of the Cocoa
Research Centre. You can also get chilled cocoa-tea."
Wilson mixes and
sells the cocoa-tea
in the traditional
way her mother
used to make.
A happy student.
PHOTOS: KEYON MITCHELL
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