A New Day for Yaupon Tea

Green leaves on a branch.
Yaupon is native to the southeastern United States from Virginia to Florida to Texas and grows up to 20 feet tall. It produces bright red berries during winter months but unlike most hollies, the leaves are not prickly.
Someone pours a bottle of dried brown leaves into a metal bowl with green and purple dried leaves.
The plant is a close cousin of the South American yerba maté and the teas are similar in flavor and quality. Bryon said the tea is mild with very little tannin, so it’s not normally bitter. Most consumers describe it as vegetal, slightly sweet and grassy, he says.
Dried green leaves.
“Yaupon” is derived from the Catawban tribe’s word “yapa,” which means “leaf of the tree.” In Florida, Timucua people referred to it as “asi,” which loosely translates to “the purifier.” In addition to drinking yaupon tea casually “they used yaupon frequently as a part of pre-battle rituals to give them energy, making a tea known as black drink and consuming it in large quantities,” Bryon says.