Usually, I use this space to groan about local politics and unmitigated growth. But this month, I've been given the green light to shamelessly plug my business--Yay!
So, I'll start with two questions. 1. Do you drink tea? 2. Do you know where your tea comes from? If you do drink tea, you aren't alone. 157 million Americans drink tea every day, and 99.9% of that tea is imported from overseas; mostly from Asia. The reason so much tea, (and I'm talking about the tea plant,camellia sinensis.),is imported, is because it's nearly impossible to grow quality tea in the continental United States. The climate and growing conditions just aren't quite right.
But conditions are perfect in Florida for growing another tea plant, called Yaupon. Yaupon is a Florida-native plant species in the holly family, and it is the only plant species on the North American continent that contains caffeine in its leaves. Yaupon is also rich in healthy antioxidants, and it tastes great, too. Native Americans consumed Yaupon for thousands of years, but it became an obscurity after the decline of native populations. In 2012, my brother Kyle and I decided it was high time that Yaupon tea was introduced into commerce. Since then, we've been plugging away to make Yaupon an important agricultural commodity in Florida, and today, you can buy our Yaupon teas in over 80 stores in the USA, and over 30 in the UK and Ireland, and all of that tea is grown, processed, packed, and distributed right here in Volusia County.
Beginning in 2018, we started working with the University of Florida/IFAS to promote Yaupon as a specialty crop for Florida farmers. Since Yaupon is native, it doesn't require the same chemicals and irrigation other crops need to survive. This means that Yaupon crops can be successful without damaging the environment or putting a big dent in a farmer's checkbook. This comes at a time when Florida's citrus industry is reeling from an incurable greening disease that has put over 70,000 jobs and an $8 Billion industry at risk. We don't claim that Yaupon can fix all of Florida's agricultural problems, but it can help! And you can help too, all you have to do is #DRINKYAUPON
Bryon White is the CEO of Yaupon Brothers LLC, an agribusiness firm located in Edgewater. Yaupon Brothers owns and manages twelve acres of certified organic Yaupon in New Smyrna Beach. Yaupon Brothers products can be purchased locally at Island Roasters, Beachside Candy, Health's Natural Foods, Spice House NSB, Magpie's Modern General Store, Sugar Works Distillery, GoJuice, and Hottie Coffee. Yaupon Brothers is at the NSB Farmers Market every Saturday from 7am-Noon, and products can also be purchased at YauponBrothers.com
For the better part of the past year, Abianne Falla, a founding member of the American Yaupon Association and co-founder of Cat Spring Yaupon, has been working with the Yaupon Brothers and other members of the AYA to help achieve GRAS, (Generally Recognized As Safe), status from the FDA. This is no easy task, and an important component of the case for Yaupon is that it was utilized outside of native ceremonial usage prior to 1958.
Yaupon was indeed available through trade. We can see evidence of Yaupon in the market from the 18th century journals of John Lawson, and later in three successive volumes of Scientific American, beginning with published correspondence in 1861, then a feature article in 1870, and another in 1917. In the 1870 article, it is stated that Yaupon could be readily purchased for around $19, (2018 dollars), per bushel, which is a volumetric measurement. Lawson stated around 1760, that colonists traded for Yaupon with an equal share of corn. In 1861, during the Civil War, tea and coffee were scarcely available. This lead to an unexpected resurgence of Yaupon:
"MESSRS. EDITORS :-In consequence of the scarcity of tea at the South, the Southerners are said to be reviving the use of the Yopon or Yaupon (llex cassine), of which the North Carolina Indians made their "black drink," and which has been more or less used ever since in that region, though mainly by the poorer classes. The plant grows on the coast from Virginia southward, especially on the low islands which enclose Pamilico Sound. The leaves and twigs are gathered by the inhabitants and bartered for corn, bushel for bushel. ' . The llex Paraguensis of South America, which furnishes the famous mate, or Paraguay tea, so extensively used as a beverage throughout that continent, is of the same genus, and it could be interesting to compare their properties. The mate is aperient and diuretic, and has, like opium, both an exhilarating and a narcotic power. When used long and excessively (as it often is) its injurious effects upon the system are similar to those produced by alcoholic drinks. It is a suggestive fact that it contains the same principle which is found in both tea and coffee, and is called theine or caffeine. Cannot some of your readers who may be acquainted with the Yopon, give some account of its nature and effects?"
M. S. B. Monterey, Sept. 20, 1861.
These items will prove valuable in demonstrating Yaupon's rich and storied history as an American commodity. Stay tuned!
Florida is a hotbed for new alternative crops. If a plant has the slightest chance of being the “next big thing,” Florida farmers have tried to grow it. Some of these crops have been more successful than others. Olives, macadamias, and now hops, have become increasingly popular. None of these are native like the Yaupon, but that doesn’t mean they can’t help Florida farmers make ends meet.
That’s why we’ve started working with Richard Smith of Florida Hops LLC, to blend a “calming” Yaupon tea. Hops is renowned for a snappy flavor and aroma, owing to its volatile compounds, but it also possesses mild sedative properties, and we think that’s pretty cool.
Our first crack at Hoppy Yaupon came with the Butterfly Pea Flower and Columbus hops from Sean Campbell, a researcher at the University of Florida’s MREC in Apopka. After some tinkering, we blended our organic Florida Yaupon with cascade hops from Florida Hops, and organic Provençal lavender flowers, and we feel that the result is pretty dope!
Keep checking back—this calming tea will be available soon.
It’s that time of year again—when we engage in merriment, food and spirits, sometimes to unbelievable excess. But hey, ‘tis the season, am I right?
In spirit of keeping things merry, we’ve come up with some fun holiday cocktail recipes using Yaupon Brothers American Tea!
FLORIDA YAUPON OLDE FASHIONED
First, you’ll need some simple syrup. Any brand will do. Place 5 teabags of Yaupon Brothers Fire-Roasted Warrior directly into an 8oz bottle of simple syrup, and leave it for at least three days. It should assume a green/golden color. You can use this in any recipe!
You’ll also want to get one of those fancy ice cube molds that makes a giant ice cube.
Making Yaupon Brothers tick is a lot of work. Bryon, Kyle and Mark, certainly stay busy, but Yaup-wives and Yaup-moms carry a lot of the weight, and it's about time they received some damn credit.
Yaup-Wife Meg carried literally a thousand boxes of our eco-tubes up the stairs. She's great at organizing, marshaling, and generally being a boss. We need it, because we're a hot mess. When not being a #yaupwife, (a hashtag she created), Meg is busy teaching English to kids in Beijing, managing events for local running shop, The Running Elements, and working for the charity, Girls-on-the-Run. Meg also does Ironman, which is insane. Thanks, Yaup-wife!
Boss lady #2, Mary - Mark's wife Mary is pretty much a genius. She has a Master's in speech pathology and is more than proficient at keeping us in fine form. Mary has also made over a hundred ceramic Yaupon Brothers mugs, BY HAND! She's always working hard in our shop, picking up our slack and coming up with better ideas we haven't thought of. Mary is also a part-owner of Yaupon Brothers, so she really is the boss lady! But the best boss lady...Thanks, Mary!
Yaup-Mom, Maryann has been around since the very beginning, (obviously). She's seen it all, from conceptual Yaupon to blossoming brand, she's lent hands, heart and soul to our business. Maryann also has a successful business of her own, selling hand-made fishing apparel. You can check out her wares here. We love ya, Yope mom!
Yaup-Gram, JoAnn was a huge supporter of Yaupon Brothers, and made history by leaping atop a table when we won the UCF Small Venture Competition in 2017. She frequently worked in our factory doing everything she could to help us sling the Yaup. JoAnn was taken from us this year by a rare and poorly-understood cancer called Ocular Melanoma. Please read more about supporting OM research here.
Thank you to the special ladies behind Yaupon Brothers!
I recently returned from Austin, Texas where I attended the inaugural board meeting of the American Yaupon Association, a non-profit collective of "Yaupontreneurs," (see what I did there), and a group devoted to promoting research, marketing, and advancement of the Yaupon Holly in commerce. I've been working on this association project for a while, but to see all of these fine folks come together to achieve universal success was touching. I really enjoyed the discussion and look forward to many more.
Soon, the American Yaupon Association will be officially non-profit, with a 501c(5) designation. Then we'll be able to begin raising funds to support the mission of the organization - to bring Yaupon to consumers everywhere!
I want to sincerely thank the members of the new association, and especially Texana Yaupon and Cat Spring Yaupon, for their support and assistance in planning this event. Here are the members of the American Yaupon Association, with more to come:
It’s not a secret that East Texas is one of the country’s great Yaupon-producing regions. More specifically, I was impressed by the scope and quantity of wild Yaupon in the Brazos Valley region and outside of Houston, near Katy and Magnolia.
This post is a contribution from Sips By, a branding partner of Yaupon Brothers American Tea. You can find the full posting here:
Video embedded is copyright of Cat Spring Yaupon. We don’t own this video or take credit for it (but we do like it :)
YAUPON: AMERICA'S ONLY CAFFEINATED PLANT
Most natural caffeine sources come from other parts of the world. The only caffeinated plant that is found in America is the yaupon holly tree, which is native to the southeastern part of North America. There are in fact different types of holly tree: yaupon, yerba maté, and guayusa. This post highlights yaupon, however if you’d like to learn more about all the different hollies, check out our post here. Not only is the yaupon holly plant known for its natural caffeine content, but it is also celebrated for its various health benefits. In addition, this evergreen plant can be made into a flavorful and robust tea.
THE HISTORY OF YAUPON
Yaupon holly is a small evergreen tree that grows along the coast of the Southern United States. The plant's name means “little tree” in the Catawban language, and it was used by Native Americans as an ingredient in many beverages. It was known for its healing and energizing properties, and was thought to also have magical qualities. It was often consumed before making any important decisions or entering into battles.
Beverages made from this plant were often consumed in beautifully adorned and embellished shells and many of these shells have been found in archaeological locations all over the United States. Native Americans traded the plant around areas all over the U.S., which is why so many shells have been located in many areas.
Eventually, this evergreen plant was shared with early European settlers. It didn't take long for the Europeans to discover the many benefits of the plant, and beverages were consumed every day by many. The popularity of this plant eventually declined, but this ancient traditional medicine has recently been experiencing newfound admiration again. As this plant is full of healing benefits, it is not hard to see why companies such as CatSpring Yaupon are pioneering the returning popularity of yaupon. A number of yaupon tea companies are popping up around the U.S., like Lost Pines Yaupon and Yaupon Brothers. The yaupon tea industry has a universally felt desire to be socially and environmentally conscious. Be sure to check out how CatSpring Yaupon, Lost Pines Yaupon, and Yaupon Brothers are helping people as well as the environment through this growing tea industry
HOW IS YAUPON MADE?
Many people ask us, how is yaupon tea made? Dried leaves from this evergreen plant are used when making the tea. The leaves are steamed in hot water to create a delicious and flavorful beverage that is very similar to green tea in taste. The flavor can be described as earthy and slightly bitter, and the aroma is pleasantly pungent. This herbal tea is richly caffeinated and should be consumed in moderation.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF YAUPON
Regularly consuming this robust and earthy tea can prevent many common ailments and may even enhance your mood. Full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, this tea has the potential to ward off illnesses such as cancer and arthritis. In addition, the natural caffeine content is an excellent energy booster and can help with concentration.
This herbal plant is considered a superfood by many because of its rich supply of important nutrients and powerful antioxidants. The anti-inflammatory properties of this plant can help prevent various forms of cancer, particularly colon cancer. It also contains the chemicals known as kaempferol 3-rutinosides and quercetin, which are both known to help prevent cancer.
This tea also contains an active ingredient known as theobromine. This chemical compound is known to lower blood pressure and strengthen the health of your cardiovascular system. Regularly drinking this tea can help prevent heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.
The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits of this plant can also reduce inflammation in the body. The overall discomfort and pain of illnesses like arthritis and gout can be greatly reduced by the healing properties of this tea. It is also a great natural pain reliever for joint pain, headaches, and muscle sprains.
The polyphenolic compounds in this herbal plant are known to stimulate and strengthen the immune system. A strong immune system is necessary to protect your body from foreign pathogens and help you fight off infections. Regularly consuming teas with these polyphenolic compounds is a great way to build immunity and keep your body healthy.
This tea also stimulates digestion and can help prevent common conditions such as constipation, bloating, and indigestion. A strong digestive system also aids in the prevention of colon cancer, hemorrhoids, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Your teeth can also benefit from the many health properties of this herbal tea. Theobromine in this evergreen tree is also known to prevent oral infections and illnesses. It can also prevent tooth decay by remineralizing and can strengthen the enamel of your teeth.
The natural caffeine in this plant is known to boost energy levels and enhance your mood. Caffeine can also provide many health benefits to your body as well. It increases memory and concentration, detoxes the liver and colon, stimulates hair growth, relieves muscle pain, and increases stamina during exercise. Caffeine can even prevent diseases such as Alzheimer's, skin cancer, depression, liver disease, kidney stones, and chronic inflammation.
CAFFEINE IN YAUPON
The natural caffeine content in this tea should be consumed in moderation, just as you would with other caffeinated beverages such as coffee, black tea, or green tea. Those with cardiovascular problems should monitor their caffeine consumption. Yaupon tea is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women due to Dr. recommendations for maternal caffeine consumption.
To brew the perfect cup of yaupon tea, check the vendor’s package or website for instructions specific to the tea you purchased because yaupon roasts sometimes have different ideal brewing temperatures and steeping times. Here are a few general yaupon tea brewing tips to keep in mind:
HOW TO BREW YAUPON TEA
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
Water Kettle or Pot to Heat Water
Tea Leaves / Sachets / Bags
Teapot with Filter / Teacup / Personal Mug and Filter
STEP ONE: HEAT THE WATER
205℉-212℉ // Soft boil
Pro Tip: Use filtered water for the best tastingcup!
STEP TWO: MEASURE
Generally 1 rounded tsp/1 tea bag per 8 oz. (1 cup) of water
Pro Tip: Add tea leaves to an infuser that lets them open fully, or you can put them straight into the teapot and use a strainer when you're pouring a cup!
STEP THREE: STEEP
Pro Tip: Don't let your tea steep for too long! It's best to take the leaves/sachet/bag out when the time's up so you aren't left with a bitter cup. Taste your tea after the recommended steeping time and then decide if you’d like it to steep a little longer.
Pro Tip: Cover your tea while it steeps to keep all the heat and aroma in the steeping vessel.
Additions: While you may enjoy yaupon in its pure form, feel free to experiment with adding things. For example, honey, orange or lemon peel, milk, herbs, and spices may be added for a unique flavor experience!
STEP FOUR: ENJOY :)
COOKING WITH YAUPON
At Sips by, we like to share creative ways to enjoy all types of tea. Check out these recipes we've cooked up that feature yaupon tea. We would highly recommend the Yopumpcakes!
Our mission at Sips by is to make quality tea fun, personalized, and affordable for the U.S. Click the button below to create a free tea profile and stay up to date on new tea lessons, learn about healthy tea recipes, and gain access to special brand offers & giveaways!
The content of this post represents information from various individuals, organizations and studies, and should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your healthcare provider about specific health needs.
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