The African kola tree bears large, bumpy fruit called kola nuts. Kola nuts are incorporated into various spiritual and cultural rituals in west African communities, but they are also valued as a distinctive edible nuts. Kola nuts are relatively flavorless, but the caffeine-rich nuts have a bitter aftertaste that leaves your mouth feeling refreshed and cleaned. Kola nuts are often processed into powders or tinctures, but fresh kola nuts require a bit of preparation before chewing.

Chewing Kola Nuts

Put on the cutting gloves. Kitchen cutting gloves protect your hands from knife wounds while you break open the kola pods.

Hold the kola pod on a cutting board with the kola pod seam facing upward.

Place the blade of the knife against the pod seam. Tip the blade upward so that the tip of the knife pierces through the pod seam. Level out the knife so that the blade rests along the seam. Press the blade through the seam, wiggling the blade back and forth to crack open the pod.

Remove the cutting gloves. Separate the pod with your thumbs to reveal the 12 to 15 kola seeds.

Place two to four seeds in your mouth. Chew the seeds and keep the seed pulp pressed between the inside of your cheek and your gums. Do not swallow the seeds. Chew the seeds for as long as 10 minutes before spitting out the seed pulp.

Kola Tea

Split open a kola seed pod as outlined in Section 1.

Fill a tea kettle or small sauce pan with 10 oz of water. Place the water on the stove and bring the water to a boil.

Place four to six kola nuts into the pot of boiling water. Boil the nuts for at least five minutes.

Remove the pot from heat and pour the mixture through a strainer over a mug. Discard the kola nuts. Allow the kola tea to cool slightly before drinking.