May 05, 2021

Exploring Yaupon's Past and Future with the BBC

By Abianne Falla
Exploring Yaupon's Past and Future with the BBC

“What if you were surrounded by tea and didn’t know it?”


 We were honored to be a part of the recent BBC article delving into the storied past of our overlooked, but delicious, plant found all across the southeastern United States--yaupon. While yaupon is now a common landscaping plant, it has a long and storied past of being consumed and traded by Native American tribes, European explorers, and even American citizens until the Civil War.

 

Photo Credit: Matt Stirn

 


“For those who know what to look for, what was once the most widely consumed caffeinated beverage in the Americas comes from a plant growing in plain sight, ignored by most, but deeply rooted deep in history and intrigue.”


Recently yaupon has returned to the limelight. Several companies in addition to CatSpring Yaupon, all independently rediscovered the plant and its history in the last decade, including Yaupon Brothers, Yaupon Wellness Company, Local Leaf, and Lost Pines Yaupon. Through experimentation and consultation with native tribes, the companies have found ways to prepare and share yaupon.


“When picked, roasted and boiled, the leaves yield a yellow to dark-orange elixir with a fruity and earthy aroma and a smooth flavour with malty tones.”


As these companies continue to share this forgotten plant, they also navigate the history of violence and exploitation that separated many of the native tribes from their traditions including yaupon. They sought out tribes and tribal elders to understand and honor yaupon’s tradition, not only sharing a yummy cup with customers, but also facilitating ways to give back to the communities who began the yaupon tradition. Also, in 2018, the American Yaupon Association (AYA) was founded with these companies and others now in the yaupon industry to responsibly engage with the tradition and sustainably share yaupon with customers, growers, producers, and suppliers.


Loose leaf yaupon

Photo Credit: Matt Stirn

“Yaupon is a sad symbol of erasure, and I hope that in trying to revive it we can offer a way to remind people of what’s happened and create a little bit of correction," said White. "We have a chance to do it the right way.”


“We understand that we didn’t invent yaupon,” said Falla, “but we hope that we can be stewards to share a beverage and its communal values that have been enjoyed and respected for thousands of years.”


And yaupon doesn’t only have a rich history. It also has a unique blend of compounds that means you can feel good about every cup you brew.


“As if orchestrated specifically for the mind and body, yaupon leaves' perfect ratio of stimulating xanthines such as caffeine, theobromine and theophylline release slowly into the body, providing a jitter-free mental clarity and an ease to the stomach.”


But don’t just take our word for it, read the whole amazing article and discover more about yaupon, especially its past and its future, in BBC’s article Yaupon: The Rebirth of America’s Forgotten Tea.