As I was going through the process of getting our wild-harvested yaupon to the roasting stage I decided to try steeping some before I put it through the roasting process. What I realized was something quite amazing: Our wild-harvested yaupon tea was infinitely better than any green tea I have ever tried.
There is a large group out there that simply loves their green tea, and with good reason. Studies have shown that green tea aids in improving blood flow, lowering cholesterol and helping to stave off heart disease. Green tea is also high in antioxidants which aid in combatting cancer. But green tea can have a heavy tannin aftertaste, one reason many people shy away from consuming green tea on a daily basis.
Yaupon tea, wild-harvested and unroasted on the other hand, doesn’t have the tannins that produce the often bitter aftertaste that green tea delivers. Yaupon is naturally low in tannins so it has no bitter aftertaste, and the health benefits equal and surpass those provided by green tea.
Several studies have shown that the quercetin and kaempferol 3-O-rutinosides contained in yaupon affect the inflammatory process associated with many diseases including colon cancer.
Additionally, yaupon’s high levels of antioxidants help prevent the ravages of osteoporosis by helping to thwart the destructive properties associated with bone tissue loss. And because yaupon is high in antioxidants it can help – in an all-natural way –manage the free radicals associated with certain types of cancer.
Yaupon also promotes good liver health and aids in the management of inflammatory diseases while affording protection against oxidative damage to the liver. And because yaupon has no bitter aftertaste is gives the illusion of just a wee bit of “sweet”, something attractive to diabetic patients who miss that treat on their taste buds.
When I compared our Emerald Coast Tea Company wild-harvested yaupon tea with the most popular brands of green teas there was no question which cup tasted smoother and less bitter. Yaupon wild-harvested tea has replaced green tea in our cabinet. If you try it compared to your favorite green tea we are sure you will agree.
There is a “hip” trend happening in the brewer and sipper world. Yerba Mate is steadily taking on the tea scene. This South American rainforest holly tree produces a leaf that has been brewed to tea for centuries; a healthy caffeine alternative to coffee. But while yerba mate is getting all the attention, it’s cousin, yaupon – indigenous to the United States, is virtually ignored.
Yaupon has thrived in the Southeastern United States for centuries. Native Americans from what is now Texas to Florida, Lousiana to Virginia, brewed “the black drink” for use in pre-battle ceremonies to give them energy, and rightly so. Yaupon is the only indigenous plant out of the 20,000-plus species native to North America to have a significant amount of naturally occurring caffeine.
Yaupon is so prevalent that in many Southern states – Florida being one – it is considered a weed plant and destroyed as a nuisance. In other parts of the South, it is crafted ornamentally in landscaping.
Nutritionally, yaupon is almost identical to yerba mate. Both hold 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids, and abundant antioxidants, as well as caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine. The latter are popular “pick-me-ups” also found in tea, coffee, and chocolate. In fact, some say a cup of yaupon tea combines the stimulant strength of coffee, the nutritional benefits of tea and the “euphoria factor” of chocolate.
Unlike traditional teas – all of which are imported into the United States from China, Sri Lanka, India, Argentina and beyond, yaupon has a very low tannin content so it drinks strong like coffee but without the bitterness. And unlike coffee, yaupon isn’t oily so it isn’t prone to acid forming. This facet of the leaf makes it much less likely to cause stomach acid and caffeine “jitters.”
Given its wild presence in the American Southeast, one would imagine that yaupon would be exploding into the coffee shops, tea rooms, and marketplaces across the United States. Given the move toward natural foods and herbal teas, one would think that yaupon would be a staple in houses that respect holistic, herbal and all-natural products. Additionally, in an economic climate where jobs need to be created, one would almost bet that this industry – what with “free” raw material – would be exploding into the marketplace. But it's not.
Yaupon, it appears, has been forgotten. While the South American yerba mate has become popular with the in-crowd of the brew-and-sipper sphere, yaupon has been stunningly ignored. This is troubling because, in the area where yerba mate is produced and harvested, the rainforest is under siege. Where the harvesting of the Ilex paraguariensis (the Latin name for the yerba mate plant) necessarily needs to be certified as not having damaged the rainforest, harvesting yaupon is not a threat to the environment and comes from right here in the United States.
Ironically, back in the beginning of the 19th Century, yaupon tea was so popular in the American Southeast that it was not only a staple in every Southern household, but smart business people were starting to export the product to the tea capitols in Britain, France and even as far away as Asia. This industry was sidelined in the mid-1800s by the US Civil War and, to date, has never recovered.
So how do we right the wrong that has been done to the spectacular plant that is the yaupon holly plant? How do we restore yaupon’s nobility in the tea world and amongst the brew-and-sipper community? While the answer is simple it will take some outside the box thinking and just a wee bit of unselfish effort. We have to try it and talk about it.
I suggest trying yaupon tea that is wild harvested and all-natural. Once you taste the different ways it can be roasted and refined – and once you understand the nutritional benefits of yaupon tea and realize you can have all of that and a caffeine source – I guarantee you will understand why this forgotten plant should be restored to its rightful place on top of the tea market!
We recently discovered that our Black Water River Roast Yaupon Tea – both with and without chicory, makes the perfect, and we mean perfect Southern Sweet Tea. And it’s not just us saying so!
At farmers’ market after farmers’ market and festival after festival, people are raving about how perfect the Emerald Coast Tea Company’s Black Water River Roast teas are for making authentic Southern Sweet Tea! In fact, it works so well we consistently run out of the product.
This makes sense for several reasons.
First, Yaupon is the only indigenous tea plant to the United States. It is found predominantly in the Southeast, the home of authentic Southern Sweet Tea. All the store bought teas use tea leaves from China, Sri Lanka, Argentina, and India, to name just a few places. Only yaupon tea leaves can be called truly American – and truly Southern.
We also found that adding chicory – a Southern staple now discovered to have a wellspring of health benefits for those who consume it – cuts the light tannin finish of yaupon tea (a finish with far less tannin than any other tea). With the removal of the tannin finish the natural unsweetened yaupon tea taste give an illusion of sweet, perfect for “Northerners” (and we say that with affection) and diabetics who seek something refreshing without sugar or chemical additives.
So, why not try the only tea that can be called “authentic” when it comes to Southern Sweet Tea? Grown, harvested, roasted, and made in America, the Emerald Coast Tea Company’s Black Water River Roast Yaupon Teas (regular and with chicory) will not only please your palate but quench your thirst!