If you’re an avid tea drinker, you’ve probably heard of Yaupon. If you’re not, I’m about to give you an earful! 😀
If there were a support group called Tea Drinkers Anonymous, I’d probably be apart of it. I love tea. And not just the standard black tea (that’s good, too), but ALL tea! Tea is something I can drink without any sugar. Coffee is something I can’t get a taste for unless it’s heavily disguised. I kid you not, I have over 15 different varieties of tea on hand in my cupboard.
I know what you are thinking. Does this woman need more tea? The answer is yes. It is always yes! 😀 The teas I have won’t last forever and I want to try my hand at roasting my own leaves for some possible gift ideas and to add to that modern homestead aesthetic.
This little gem right here, is a miniature friend of the Yaupon tree or ilex vomitoria (sounds yummy, right?). This little bush in particular is a schillings holly or a dwarf yaupon holly with the same latin name. Yaupon is the only known caffeinated (with the highest amount of caffeine) plant native to North America. SAY WHAT?!?! You can care for this little fellow and create some kick ass tea! These smaller versions are drought-tolerant, suitable in landscaping, great for the birds, bees, and butterflies, and grow fantastic in containers, supposedly.
The last piece of information above is my sole reason for getting one. Up here in the Northeast, it wouldn’t stand a chance to winter. Knowing that I can bring it in and give it minimum attention in the winter while reaping benefits, has me overjoyed. Based upon other things that I scoured the internet for, these babies will tolerate soil that is slightly acidic to fairly neutral. They also thrive from full sun to partial shade, are slow growing, hold their shape when cut, and like any small shrub, just need cut back from time to time to avoid browning leaves. Oh, and a re-mention of my favorite part, this baby is CAFFEINATED!!!!!!!
This little shrub is also high in antioxidants (polyphenols); and virtually free of tannins (reduced bitterness). It has a different taste and complexity from your standard black tea, but it’s still delicious in my opinion. It can be served hot or iced.
I can’t wait to dry these out (air or dehydrator) and roast (oven) some yummy tea (add flavorings, too) soon.
Word to the wise– DO NOT EAT THE BERRIES. Holly berries can make humans sick and some varieties are lethal (be careful if you have children). Be kind and leave those berries for the wildlife. (I plan on storing this bush away from little, grabby hands. We have several indoor plants I can see my little one destroying.) Also note, not all holly leaves can be made into drinking tea, some can be herbal laxatives. Be wary, be knowledgeable, be cautious.
Until we are ready to brew (I should probably start consuming the rest of the stuff I have), here’s a picture of my first purchase of yaupon tea by CatSpring Tea.
FUN FACT: Yaupon tea does not make you vomit as the Latin classification ilex vomitoria suggests. It has been said that Native Americans made some really potent Yaupon tea and consumed so much during ceremonies that were centered around purging. Yummy!