Yaupon, a North American Tea gets Revived

steaming mug

There’s nothing quite like a good cup of tea. Thanks to the efforts of tea fans in North America we all may soon have another tea option available to us. The only known native caffeine producing plant, yaupon, is a holly bush indigenous to the south east of the USA. Yaupon tea was lost to history due to colonization in North America, which has made a challenge to relearn how to harvest and use the plant. People who are reviving the use of yaupon are studying history to understand how best to prepare the plant. And yes, in North American tradition, it is already for sale.

As I began to learn more about yaupon, I was floored,” said White, “I just couldn’t believe that nobody knew about it.”

Though White quickly became fascinated with the holly’s history, he also realised that trying to brew an actual drink from it would be difficult, as there was no-one left to learn from. Guided by instructions he found in colonial diaries compiled in Dr Hudson’s volume about yaupon, White began picking the leaves and experimenting with roasting techniques. In a similar fashion, Falla tried roasting her first batch of yaupon in the family kitchen, discovering that she had a natural talent for creating a delicious nutty and buttery flavour.

Guided by a curiosity for botany and an interest in history, Falla and White unexpectedly found themselves on parallel journeys to revive the ancient beverage, with Falla starting Catspring Yaupon outside Austin, Texas, in 2013, and White founding Yaupon Brothers in Edgewater, Florida, in 2015. Today, yaupon continues to grow in popularity as additional startups have begun selling and promoting the historical beverage.

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