March 30, 2021

Museum Quality

By Abianne Falla
Museum Quality

Photography by Doug Carr

Well, this is a first for us! Cat Spring Tea is part of a museum exhibit at the Illinois State Museum’s “Art and Science of Drink” exhibit.

Cahokia was a city, the largest Native American civilization north of Mexico, in Illinois dating back to A.D. 1050. Some pottery and pottery fragments discovered during excavation had organic matter with traces of caffeine, theobromine, and ursolic acid. Researchers discovered that the residue’s properties and specific biomarkers indicated repeated consumption of yaupon in the ceremonial vessels. This yaupon was used to create Black Drink, a ritually important drink judging by the ornate stenciling and preservation of the beakers and vessels.

When researchers could not find any trace of any native yaupon growth outside the gulf coast or Southeastern United States, they concluded that yaupon must have been traded by southern tribes to the Cahokian residents. Historians believe that the trade route may have consisted of individuals paddling up and down the Mississippi River.

So this brings us to the exhibit. The Illinois State Museum runs a series of “Hot Science” featuring the history of Black Drink, its chemistry, and the fact that yaupon tea is now commercially available again (you are welcome!).  The museum served some of our Cat Spring Yaupon Tea at the exhibition opening!

We’re so appreciative of being included! Thank you, Illinois State Museum.