Yaupon Tree

Used to make a signature black tea by Native Americans, yaupon’s appeal as a caffeinated drink rose and fell due to an unfortunate name given to it by Europeans.

| January 2019

yaupon-full-2
Photo by Getty/TStuard

Before the European conquest of North America yaupon, or Indian black tea, was a valuable commodity; indigenous people travelled long distances to harvest its leaves. The mystery is why it is not widely known and consumed these days.

Yaupon is a common small evergreen, a brother to yerba maté and holly, with prickly leaves and dense clusters of translucent red berries. It grows easily in the sandy coastal plains along the Gulf of Mexico from Texas to Florida and has few, if any, insect pests, probably on account of the caffeine it contains.

yaupon-fruit
Illustration by Lucille Clerc



It was that caffeine, in the yaupon tea brewed by the Timucua and other indigenous American tribes, that made the tree so important to them. Most cultures have developed caffeine rituals, ranging from the therapeutic cuppa, via the hand-crafted coffee craze and African kola swaps, to elaborate ceremonies of tea preparation and consumption. In some Native American cultures, men frequently shared yaupon tea as a sign of peaceful intention. It also featured in big, culturally significant gatherings, with music, dancing and black tea quaffed from conch shells.

yaupon-coffee
Illustration by Lucille Clerc






fermentation

FERMENTATION FRENZY!

September 12-13, 2019
Seven Springs, Pennsylvania

Fermentation Frenzy! is produced by Fermentation magazine in conjunction with the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR. This one-and-a-half day event is jam-packed with fun and informative hands-on sessions.

LEARN MORE






Subscribe today

Heirloom GardenerCultivate your love of historic plant varieties and traditional recipes with a subscription to Heirloom Gardener magazine today!

Don’t miss a single issue of Heirloom Gardener. Published by the editors of MOTHER EARTH NEWS, Heirloom Gardener provides decades of organic gardening experience from the most trusted voices in the field. Subscribe today and save as much as 38% off the newsstand price! Get one year (4 issues) for only $24.95!




Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube

click me