Discover the History of Yaupon

Yaupon is new to the modern beverage landscape yet carries a rich history.  Traditional tea has been served worldwide for centuries and even the close cousin of yaupon, yerba mate, is popular in South American countries and has spread across the globe.  Along the way, yaupon got lost in the winds of time. That’s why we’re glad to revitalize this lost American treasure and share it once more with the larger world.

 
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Native American Culture


Centuries ago, yaupon was common amongst Native American tribes, with the Cherokee calling yaupon the beloved tree.  Early records show that Native Americans across the South and in the Northwest of Mexico consumed yaupon as early as 750 AD.  For Native Americans, yaupon had multiple purposes including use as a medicinal tea and a sign of status. It was used by tribes as part of an infusion with other plants to create an emetic black drink for ritual ceremonies to purge toxins from the body and prepare for battle.  Amongst the Muscogulges, known more commonly as the Creek people, yaupon was associated with a sky deity named Yahola and consumption was limited to adult males of high social status.  Native American tribes even traded for yaupon, with traces of it found as far north as the Native American mound city of Cahokia, found near the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. 

Early Settlers


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Native Americans introduced yaupon to early colonizers.  In 16th century Florida, Timucua Indians taught Spanish settlers who named it te del indio or cacina.  It was an instant hit.  In 1615, a Spanish priest reported that “there is not Spaniard or Indian who does not drink it every day in the morning or evening”.  Further up the coast, 18th century English settlers in the Carolinas discovered yaupon. In South Carolina it became known as cassina and as yaupon in North Carolina. When they traded it back to Europe, they marketed it as Carolina tea in England and Appalachina in France.

Disappearance


All international trading halted in the 19th century.  The reason is unclear, but the most prevalent theory is tea conspiracy.  Reports associated the emetic properties of Native American drinks from purification rituals with the yaupon.  William Aiton, an influential botanist and “Gardener to His Majesty”, dubbed yaupon with the scientific name Ilex vomitoria. Thus, he cemented the association between yaupon and vomiting.  Though contemporary reports disproved these claims, the damage was done. Though Aiton’s individual motivations are unclear, the East India Company, with a tight grip on British tea trade, may have benefitted from the disappearance of yaupon as a competitor.

Yaupon wasn’t gone for good though.  Native Americans continued to consume it and it was even used during the Civil War as a coffee substitute.  But it never rose back to prominence, in part due to its association with the hardships of the war. In recent years, it is a common decorative plant and is even considered a weed in the South because it grows everywhere.  You may even have some in your yard!

Return


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At CatSpring Yaupon, we share this incredible, tenacious American treasure with the world.  The Native Americans and early settlers recognized it as a delicious beverage and now you can as well.  Try all our varieties to experience the wide range of flavors we are just beginning to uncover in this ancient tradition.

Curate a Moment: 3 Reasons to Slow Down

At CatSpring Yaupon, we encourage you to curate a moment.  But things get in the way. There’s the endless to-do lists, the temptation of apps, the urgency of texts and emails, and the constant hum of information all around us. 

 
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This brings on decision fatigue. We’ve all been there. End of a long day, your head feels heavy and slow, and everything requires just a little more effort than it should.  How and why does this happen?  

There are two reasons.

We can’t multitask.  Sorry. Our brain focuses on a single task at a time.  When we “multitask”, our brain switches from one action to the other rapidly.  This exhausts the brain with the continuous effort to redirect attention. Unless you’ve developed strong muscle memory for an action, like walking and chewing gum, your consciousness has to direct the action and here your brain can only handle one thing at a time.

Every time your brain switches attention, there is a cost.  About 1/10th of a second. That’s nothing, right?  It can’t be that big of a deal. Except that over a whole day those fractions of seconds add up.  If you multitask, you could have a 40% decrease in your productivity.  That’s almost half your day wasted.

What’s the solution?

Slow down.  Curate a moment.  

Mind the details. This can be a moment to sit back and rest on the couch in the midst of a hectic day.  Or it’s a moment to dial into that project you’ve avoided all day. One of the best ways to reclaim some of that 40% of lost time is to focus on the task you’re working on.  For great practice, steep a pot of yaupon. Focus on each step-- get out the kettle, fill it with water, boil the water, select your favorite preparation method, steep the yaupon, feel the warmth from the mug seep into hands.  Similar to meditation, tune into each action and give it your full attention. You’ll find you feel refreshed before you even take a sip.

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Fuel your brain. When you take a sip of your delicious yaupon, you help your brain reset in another way.  Our brains are energy hogs. Though they only take up 2% of our body weight, they use up to 20% of the glucose we consume.  That means a whopping ⅕ of anything you eat or drink fuels your brain. And when you use your brain (i.e. anything you do all day) it eats up that glucose and needs to recharge.  Snacks like a cup of yaupon are just the ticket to reset and get back to your work reinvigorated.

Leave it alone. What if you don’t have five minutes to make a pot of yaupon?  Take a page from your teachers. The ones who always told you not to wait until the day before your paper was due to write it. Start projects early to give yourself time to not work on the project. What? When you start early, you can leave the project alone to go for a walk, read a good book, or brew a pot of yaupon.  When you return, your mind will have mulled over the problems you were stuck on and generated some possible solutions. You’ll enjoy more productivity when you have the time to leave the project alone.

Reclaim your day.  Help your brain. Energize your work.  Curate a moment with CatSpring Yaupon.

 
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Reclaim Your Day From Stress

In some ways, we need stress.  It’s our body’s fight or flight response.  When we encounter threats, stress kicks our body into high gear with more adrenaline, oxygen, and glucose sent to cells.  This puts our body in top shape to face the danger.

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Chronic stress is an issue.  All those hormones and chemicals continue to circulate and wear down your body.  This leads to issues including muscle tension, headaches, fatigue, sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, and anxiety.  You’re also more inclined to have poorer eating habits, exercise less, and procrastinate more.  

Daily habits can ease the stress and make the pressure manageable long-term.

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Reclaim your day with exercise. Internal and external stressors cause the same physical reaction, so your body responds to a rattlesnake the same way it does to a deadline.  You can run from a rattlesnake, but can’t run from a deadline. But stress builds your body up for fight or flight. When you can’t do either, what can you do?  One way to relieve the stress of the deadline is to “fight” it. Physical exercise lets your body physically respond as it’s geared up to do, ease the tension caused by stress, and release chemicals into your bloodstream to heal damaged cells.

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Reclaim your day with the things you love.  Take a few minutes to engage in an activity you enjoy—a quick walk, a short dance, light reading, brewing a hot mug of yaupon.  This can take your mind off the source of your stress and allow time for your subconscious to address the problem. You’ll return to the problem with a fresh perspective and maybe even a new idea.  This relax time can also improve your mood and your “positive affect” (feelings of happiness and joy), which is correlated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease.

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Reclaim your day with your community.  Seek out your close friends, even for a few minutes.  Studies show that being with friends is beneficial for our health.  Being around friends can reduce how much cortisol is produced when we get stressed, so we’re less stressed from the start.  Giving and receiving hugs can also reduce stress hormones like cortisol and increase stress combatting hormones like oxytocin in our bodies.  Friends can help problem solving. They bring a different perspective to situations and even just a 10 minute conversation with a friend has been shown to improve executive function (your decision making ability).

We all have stress.  The great news is we have choices in how we manage that stress.  Today, curate a moment to take care of your health. Give yourself the gift of time and reclaim your day from stress. 

Beat the Summer Heat with Cold Yaupon

Do you want a yummy, iced drink to chase away the heavy heat of the afternoon? Look no further because we have three delicious recipes to refresh any day.


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Yaupon Gimlet

  • 4oz iced Pedernales yaupon

  • 1.5oz gin

  • 2 tsp sugar or honey

  • dash absinthe (optional)

Mix all ingredients and garnish with a lemon peel or lime wedge.


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CatSpring Yaupon Shaved Ice

  • 1 cup of your favorite preparation method iced

  • Shaved ice

Pour the iced yaupon over the shaved ice. Eat with a spoon or sip right from the cup.


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CatSpring Yaupon Smoothie

  • 1 cup Pedernales yaupon

  • 1 cup almond milk

  • 1 cup spinach

  • 1.5 cups frozen fruit (mango, cherry, pomegrante)

  • 6 mint leaves

Blend all ingredients together and add ice to thicken.


Enjoy your daily cool down with CatSpring Yaupon.

Green Yaupon: A Labor of Love

Iced yaupon is one of our favorite remedies for the heat of summer.

Reach for Pedernales, our green yaupon, to refresh anytime of day— whether on a hike in the late afternoon or you’ve almost wrapped that last task at work.

Pure dried yaupon that has been hand-harvested at one of our vetted suppliers, our Pedernales preparation method is a true labor of love.

Enjoy!


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Interested in trying our Pedernales Yaupon? Find it here & let us know your favorite way to steep your yaupon!

Types of Yaupon

Our founder, Abianne Falla, shares why she loves two of our unique preparation methods.

Marfa, our dark roast, has a nutty scent courtesy of our roasting process. This brew tastes similar to black teas and is the perfect wake me up in the morning to complement your coffee.

Pedernales, our green yaupon, has an earthy scent with a smooth taste. Abianne loves to drink this in the afternoon for a quick pick me up.

All of our blends taste great hot or iced, anytime of day.

Find your favorite yaupon.

What is Yaupon? 5 Things You Should Know about This Lost American Treasure

And what exactly do we mean by, It’s Texan, for tea?

 
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First, Texan is our home town dialect, filled with “y’all” and “howdy” that call us back to a time when you could slow down and rest after a long day of hard work.  

Yaupon is our hometown plant, so abundant in the South that for decades it was considered a weed because it invaded everywhere.  Now, we recognize yaupon for the national treasure it really is and want to share this incredible drink with y’all.

Saying we’re tea may seem redundant.  You steep leaves in water and get a drink: that’s tea. But then, yaupon isn’t technically tea: It’s an herbal infusion.  Surprised? Yaupon does share some qualities with tea, the second most popular beverage in the world (beaten only by water). It also has some unique traits of its own:

1.    Location, Location, Location.  Traditional tea all comes from a single plant.  Camellia sinensisis the source for all varieties of tea and is native to Asia.  All the various flavors and blends of tea come from different preparation methods of this plant.  That means all traditional tea comes from across the sea. Yaupon, on the other hand, comes from the plant Ilex vomitoria, native to North America and the only naturally caffeinated plant on the continent.  In fact, CatSpring Yaupon is 100% American. Wild-grown, harvested, and packaged right here in Texas.

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2.    No Tannins. Traditional teas contain a compound called tannins and these are what make your tea bitter when you steep too long. Yaupon lacks tannins and therefore you can steep it as long as you want.  You can perform multiple steeps to keep a hot mug going all day and you’ll always have a smooth, delicious cup of yaupon without astringent flavor.

3.    Stable antioxidants.  Antioxidants are like reserve troops for your body.  They come in and remove harmful free oxidants, reducing the risk for multiple diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and brain dysfunction. Both tea and yaupon possess antioxidants.  However, in a 2011 study yaupon had relatively stable levels of antioxidants versus green tea when packaged. This means you get more of the natural goodness with each sip of yaupon.

4.    Yummy Roasting. Yaupon and tea obtain new flavors and profiles from different preparations of the leaves.  As you’ll find with our Pedernales blend, both tea and yaupon can be enjoyed after simply drying the leaves.  You can also roast the leaves prior to steeping them. With roasting, you get different tastes based on how long you roast the leaves.  Longer roasts tend to give the blend a toastier flavor. Try our Lost Maples blend, a medium roast, and our Marfa blend, our dark roast, to taste the difference yourself!

5.    Foolproof Steeping. Both tea and yaupon are delicious brewed either hot or cold.  You can steep yaupon in hot water for a few minutes to get a hot mug of yaupon.  Or you can put yaupon in water and refrigerate overnight to wake up to delicious, cold yaupon.  And, being from the South, we love a glass of iced yaupon. Simply add a few ice cubes to a freshly brewed cup of yaupon and enjoy.

When you steep a cup of yaupon, you’re enjoying a Southern innovation of an ancient tradition. That’s why we like to say, It’s Texan, for tea. There’s a story waiting for you in every cup.

 
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7 Things I've Learned with Two Babies: CatSpring Yaupon and a Baby Girl

Each day with a baby girl and a small business has brought new ideas. Here are seven lessons I’ve learned as a mompreneur. 

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1.    Grow with the process. I used to think there were non-negotiable aspects of life such as sleep and a clean house. Boy, did this change with Isla. When my husband and I discussed all the shifts, we realized there was greater bandwidth than we thought to handle the changes. This open evaluation is integral to CatSpring Yaupon. We discuss processes because we’ve learned that sometimes we followed a routine because of a limit that no longer exists. 

2.    Every day is unique. Just because it looks a certain way today doesn’t mean it stays that way.  When Isla arrived, I was anxious when we had a rough day or I only had time to work for 30 minutes. I had to take a deep breath and remember that tomorrow could (and probably would) look different, and that this dynamic was all part of the process.

3.    It takes a village. I’ve always been a bit independent. I’ve been humbled yet empowered about my limitations since Isla has come. Whether I’m with Isla or I’m at work, I strive to be present. A strong support system enables this. I’ve relied on my CatSpring team more. I’ve also relied on my husband and mom. They love the time with Isla and family life is way better as a team sport. I now experience how rich both work and life can be when I involve others.

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4.    Clean, natural energy is a must. I love yaupon tea and the boost it provides – that’s why I share it. But I have a new appreciation for this energy and realize how important a clean, mental boost can be. There’s a lot to manage with a business and a baby.  Yaupon tea allows me to approach these challenges with my very best throughout the day.

5.    The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. I had no idea that the addition of another person to Adam’s and my relationship would increase the joy and love that we have. That sounds cheesy but it’s true. Isla has made our relationship richer.

6.    Be present. With a baby, you’re forced to be present, take it slow, and heed their cues. A friend once said that a baby is like special forces: “Slow is easy, and easy is slow.” The mornings I give her time to eat and chat before we get out of the house are the days that she does the best. It’s given me a new appreciation for our work at CatSpring Yaupon to help everyone curate a moment. Isla seems to understand the importance of moments better than I do.

7.    Something greater than myself. A baby helps you realize it’s not about you. I’m intentional in how I care for my body because I’m not the only one dependent on it. I’m mindful what I expose Isla to in cleaning supplies (shout out to Branch Basics for the solution), foods, and materials. The realization that she’ll inherit our planet has only reinforced the importance of sustainability in our production, sourcing, and how we build our business.  She hasn’t drastically changed any of my priorities but rather underscored their importance. 

For innumerable reasons, I’m grateful for what Isla teaches me. And there’s more to come!

Native American Uses of Yaupon

Yaupon use pre-dates the formation of the United States of America. Before even early traders landed on these shores, many Native American tribes had a Yaupon tradition.

Trade of Yaupon:

Records show that yaupon was consumed by many tribes of the Southeast and trans Mississippi south in political, religious, and social contexts. While it grew primarily in the Southeast region, extensive trade networks established between tribes spread yaupon far and wide. It has been found as far west as New Mexico, as far south as Mexico, and as far inland as Cahokia in Missouri, all most likely as a result of trade with Southeastern tribes.

Early Uses of Yaupon:

The most well documented yaupon usage is that of the Creek Confederacy that dominated the Southeast while the earliest known reference was from Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca while traveling along the coast of Texas in 1542.

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Another early account comes from John Lawson’s A New Voyage to Carolina, printed in 1709. According to Lawson, yaupon was used by the Native Americans of the Carolina coast, who “bore this plant in veneration above all the plants they are acquainted with”. It was used for rituals, ceremonies, village councils, and other important meetings. It was also used as a social drink and to show friendship. Cups made of whelk, a sea snail whose shells are found along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, were frequently used.

Ceremonial Uses of Yaupon:

Purification ceremonies in which large quantities of the black drink (which contained yaupon amongst other ingredients) were consumed were followed by vomiting, and this was credited by European travelers to the yaupon. Through the test of time, numerous explorers and travelers experiences, and recent scientific study however, the emetic properties of yaupon have been disproven. 

Jonathan Dickinson (later the mayor of Philadelphia) reported that amongst the St. Lucian people on Florida’s east coast, yaupon was traditionally only served to important men. Throughout the Southeast, yaupon stood as a symbol of purity and was used for peaceful purposes; therefore, some Native Americans in this region referred to the tea as “white drink” because it signified health and peace.