The history and benefits of Yaupon tea

Yaupon plant

Yaupon is the only naturally caffeinated plant native to North America. Yaupon is native to Florida and the southeastern United States, and has been used for thousands of years by indigenous communities for ceremonies, as a food and as a medicine.

For example, descendants of the Timucua tribe, which has been extinct since 1800, lived in what is now North Central Florida for about 10,000 years before European contact. The Timucua people used Yaupon for a variety of purposes. In addition, the Ais and the Muscogee (Creek) tribes utilized Yaupon in ceremonies, as a food, and as a medicine. 

Research has found that other tribes across the United States were either trading for it or cultivating it. Yaupon clearly has a rich history with Native American people. 

For a couple hundred years Yaupon gradually diminished and wasn’t as widely consumed. The exact reason for this is still unknown, but many think early settlers had a role in its disappearance, making way for Eastern teas instead. 

Yaupon is a persistent plant and is drought-resistant. Because it can be foraged in the wild and requires little to no water, it is environmentally friendly. It requires zero chemicals to thrive and is a natural, healthy substitute for coffee.

SweetGrass Trading Co. partners with companies like CatSpring Yaupon and Yaupon Bros. American Tea Company to make Yaupon tea widely accessible and revitalize its rich traditions and legacy. 

Yaupon also boasts various health benefits. A few are listed below. 

  • Yaupon contains the stimulant theobromine, the pleasure molecule commonly found in dark chocolate. In addition to giving you greater focus, theobromine can also lower blood pressure and prevent tooth decay. 
  • Yaupon tea is packed with antioxidants that can boost the immune system.
  • A recent study conducted by Texas A&M University identified Yaupon’s anti-inflammatory properties as an inhibitor of colon cancer.
  • Ongoing research at Stetson University in Florida has shown evidence that Yaupon Holly extract may cause human Leukemia cells to die off while leaving healthy cells unharmed.
  • Some research has also shown that, unlike other teas, Yaupon tea’s antioxidant properties remain unaffected when packaged in PPE plastic bottles.

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