Yaupon Tea

For thousands of years people have been drinking yaupon tea made from North America’s only caffeinated native plant, yaupon holly. Today yaupon tea is rapidly gaining popularity as an alternative to coffee and tea. It was named Whole Foods’ top trending food for 2023. Rich in antioxidants, the tea appeals to health-conscious consumers. It’s sustainably produced and supports eco-friendly practices and local economies. Add to those its unique flavor, cultural significance, and local sourcing. Plenty of reasons to like yaupon tea.

A Short History of Yaupon. From CatSpring Yaupon. 2 min.

PBS features the Yaupon growers and teahouse in Savannah. 27 min.

Why Yaupon Tea?

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Environmental benefits

Native to the southeastern U.S., yaupon holly can grow as high as 30 feet. It needs no pesticides or fertilizers. Because it thrives in local ecosystems it helps biodiversity. Its red berries are a favorite for more than 20 bird species, and the plant supports a variety of pollinators, including bees and butterflies. The dense foliage offers protection for small animals. Yaupon’s drought resistance saves water and the need for irrigation. It also reduces the carbon footprint of growing and importing tea and coffee.

Yaupon Tea in History

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Taste compared to coffee/tea

A relative to yeaba mate, yaupon tea offers a unique flavor profile that is less bitter than traditional black tea and coffee, with a naturally smooth and slightly sweet taste. Its caffeine content is moderate, providing a gentle boost without the jitters often associated with coffee. This makes Yaupon tea a nice alternative for those seeking a balanced caffeination experience with a pleasant, mellow flavor.

Healthy Drink

Yaupon leaves are a nutritional powerhouse, packed with antioxidants like polyphenols and flavonoids that combat oxidative stress and inflammation. Additionally, yaupon contains theobromine, a compound that provides a gentle stimulant effect without the jitters often associated with coffee. When comparing yaupon to coffee and tea, yaupon offers a balanced caffeine content that can enhance alertness and focus without the crash.

Native Range

Yaupon holly is a resilient evergreen shrub native to the southeastern United States. The range extends from coastal Virginia, through North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, and westward through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas. It’s believed to have originated in the Ouachita Mountains, and over millions of years expanded its range to many soil types and climates. 

Local Food & Business

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A drink that’s Trending!

Whole Foods named yaupon tea as its number one trending food for 2023. Fast Company recently ran an article titled, “This plant you’ve never heard of could replace your coffee habit.” This interest is driven by several factors, including its health benefits, unique flavor profile, and historical significance. Yaupon tea is rich in antioxidants, making it an attractive option for health-conscious consumers. Its sustainable and local production appeals to eco-conscious consumers and those who want to support local economies.

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NPR. The Buzz On America's Forgotten Native 'Tea' Plant

“The sisters started selling their Cat Spring Yaupon Tea online two years ago, both a green tea and a roasted black tea.”

3 min.

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Podcast: Yaupon Odyssey: Unearthing America's Herbal Legacy

From NPR’s “A Fork in the Road.” The history and uses of yaupon holly — its role in Native American traditions and its modern applications from teas and skincare.
17 min.

Caffeine content in 8 oz serving (approx.)

 

Coffee: 90-120 mg

Yerba Mate: 65-85 mg

Black Tea: 40-70 mg

Yaupon Tea: 30-60 mg

Green Tea: 20-45 mg

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Want to go down the Latin name rabbit hole?

this will be written later