6 Ways CatSpring Yaupon Does Sustainability

From the beginning, CatSpring Yaupon has been dedicated to sustainability in every way.  We harvest in areas with plentiful growth so the yaupon can continue to flourish. We work with our local community to provide needed jobs.  We minimize our environmental footprint to keep our land healthy for years to come. And that’s just the start.

 
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1. Clean Yaupon.  The ingredient list for our three different preparation methods is yaupon.  That’s it. Hand-harvested, wild-grown yaupon. All our preparation methods are non-GMO, organic, and kosher. We thoroughly verify every source of our yaupon to match these standards and bring you the best product. Because when you find the best that’s all you need.  

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2. Short Supply Chain. We keep our supply chain short; pick the leaves in CatSpring, prepare them in-house, and ship them straight to you to enjoy.  While longer supply chains offer layers of protection to hide unethical practices and carry larger environmental footprints, shorter supply chains increase visibility of business processes and minimize the environmental impact.

3. Ethical Employment. Early in the days of CatSpring Yaupon, we were aware of how pervasive human trafficking was in our hometown of Houston and how the broken criminal justice system perpetuated the problem.  The process we use to harvest and process our yaupon is labor intensive and as we sought out staffers for the job we found the opportunity to take a stand against the exploitation of people.  Through our People First employment initiative, we work with parole officers to identify individuals who want to gain valuable experience post-incarceration and create a future that looks different than their past.  We also employ women who have a history of generational poverty in our packaging facility.  

4. Water Conservation. Short supply chains are better for the environment.  Compared to coffee and tea varieties that take up to 140 liters of water throughout their entire production line to make a single cup at home, yaupon uses few resources.  Since our yaupon is wild-harvested, the only water used to grow it is natural rainwater. But it’s not just water that we’re saving. 

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5. Soil Conservation. Soils need variance in plant life to replenish nutrients and minerals over time and time to rest.  In the large coffee and tea industries, some fields don’t get that chance. This weakens the soil’s ability to grow new crops and increases the need for fertilizers and new land.  As consumer demand grows worldwide, forests are razed to provide more crop land for coffee and tea, endangering native species of plants and animals. Our yaupon comes from wild-grown bushes.  They grow where the conditions are best for the yaupon and the local ecosystem. We let the land determine where we harvest and work in partnership with the environment to provide this natural drink.

6. Local Environment. We work with the USDA and regional organizations to develop the best sustainable practices as our company grows.  Since yaupon hasn’t been harvested on a large scale before, it’s still uncertain what are the best ways to treat the local environment.  When the fields were cleared years ago for farming the native grasses that had extensive root systems were lost. The crop plants with shorter roots allowed the yaupon to grow into the area with greater prevalence than before.  We now think that if native grasses are allowed to reclaim some areas, this can help restore the local environment and improve the land’s sustainability.

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CatSpring Yaupon is committed to helping our local community and the global community.  For us sustainability is leaving both better than we found them. It’s a responsibility to you, our customers, to be transparent in our process and to give you the best product that you can feel good drinking.

Why Roast Yaupon?

We have three different preparation methods-- Pedernales, Lost Maples, and Marfa.  These are, respectively, our green yaupon, medium roast, and dark roast preparations.

 
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That’s great, but what does it mean?

It took time to finesse our preparation process for our yaupon.  In our work with yaupon, we drew on a number of influences. Our process now is a hybrid of traditional Japanese tea and Yerba Maté preparation methods.

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 All our preparation methods start with leaves we hand-harvest from wild yaupon bushes.  These plants have nothing but sunshine and rainwater on them—never any pesticides or fertilizer.  Here in the South, yaupon flourishes and many farmers tear it out as a weed to clear space for fields or graze patches for cows.  We provide an alternative sustainable harvesting pathway for the yaupon that reduces the weed for farmers and ensures enough yaupon can grow back.

Since the leaves are 50% water, the preparation process begins as soon as they are harvested.  We first dry all the leaves. Drying makes the yaupon more shelf-stable. We’re then able to pack and ship the yaupon  all over the world without deterioration in the product quality. As an added bonus, the antioxidants in yaupon are stable, unlike traditional green tea which can lose antioxidants in the preparation process.  Drying also locks in the natural flavor of the leaves, so you get more of the delicious flavor of yaupon in every cup.

This is the process for our Pedernales preparation.  One simple step to delicious earthy yaupon.

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For our Lost Maples and Marfa varieties, we roast the leaves. In traditional teas, the roasting step creates many of the variations.  Different flavor profiles are created based on how long the leaves are roasted and how fast the process goes. When our yaupon is roasted, the leaf color, flavor profile, and aroma change.  It gives them toasty notes that resemble the taste of a cup of coffee. The leaves darken in the process and the infusion has a darker color. We roast the Marfa batch longer than the Lost Maples.  This makes the Marfa a darker brew than our Lost Maples.

Each of our preparation methods have all the same yaupon benefits.  They contain less caffeine than a cup of coffee, enough to give you an energetic boost without jitters.  All three preparation methods contain theobromine. This handy compound is what makes you happy when you eat chocolate.  It’s also good for your oral health so you get a healthier smile too. And all of the varieties have polyphenols and flavonals which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to bolster your immune system.

Try all three varieties to taste the difference and feel good with each cup you drink.  You’ll love the taste and your body will thank you.

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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