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(ATA-218: dp. 1,275 (tl.); 1. 194'6"; b. 34'7"; dr. 14'1" (f.); s. 12.1 k.; cpl. 57, a. 2 40mm.- cl.ATA-214)
ATA-218 was laid down as Yaupon (AN-72) on 29 January 1944 at Slidell, La., by the Canulette Shipbuilding Co. Her name was cancelled on 12 August 1944, and she was designated ATA-218. She was launched on 16 September 1944 and commissioned on 10 March 1945.
Information regarding ATA-218's brief Navy career is almost totally lacking. Even her decommissioning date is unknown. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 17 April 1946, and she was sold through the War Shipping Administration on 3 January 1947. Presumably, she was scrapped.
Yaupon Holly: The Forgotten Beverage
The yaupon holly shrub looks commonplace. It is not flashy or fancy. It doesn’t even have the prickly leaves we normally associate with hollies. If you walk by it without noticing it, like many of our visitors do, you would be in good company. It is often used as shrubs in residential areas and it’s beautiful in holiday decor with its bright red, berry-like drupes. The evergreen has been popular in landscaping because it comes in multiple forms and because of its tendency to stay low to the ground. However, these are not the only benefits yaupon holly has to offer.
Yaupon holly (llex vomitoria) ‘Schillings’ at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden on the Main Garden path. Image by Nicole Plummer
Although it is not widely known, yaupon (Ilex vomitoria) has been used for centuries to brew tea similar to black tea. With a species name that includes the word vomitoria, we could understand if you are hesitant to try this tea! Early colonists observed Native Americans drinking the tea then vomiting as part of a purification ritual and therefore added vomitoria to the name. But yaupon is not emetic, and the name is not actually deserved. More likely, it arose from confusion. Either the indigenous people were actually drinking something else for the ritual, or there was something else in the tea concoction that caused this dramatic effect and confused the colonists.
Yaupon holly ‘Schillings’ at the Garden along the right side of the Main Garden Path. Image by Nicole Plummer
We believe in putting people and the environment ahead of profits. That’s why we are committed to providing natural products with the most eco-friendly packaging, processing, and shipping possible, ensuring we leave the world a better place than when we got here.
It is also why we donate a large percent of all profits to local ecological restoration efforts. This includes bio-remediation projects aimed at reducing or completely eliminating persistent pollutants found in our air, water, and soil. This ground-breaking research will allow us to further our land restoration efforts and continue to restore biodiversity and bring life back to the critical ecosystems we call home.
Additionally, to further reduce our environmental impact, we use re-purposed glass jars for display/storage and recycled cigar boxes for shipping whenever possible. Don’t forget to follow us on social media for tea giveaways, collaborations, special events and more!
Yaupon Brothers believe in second-chance employment where their harvesters earn a living wage and have the opportunity to work flexible schedules.
They also use an agriculture model that focuses on Yaupon Holly being a native crop. Native crops don’t use pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides. Overall, this means less pollution in the soil and water. This also helps Yaupon Brothers operations to become certified organic.
The Yaupon Holly tree grows in the Southeast United States and is the only naturally caffeinated plant that grows in the US and most of North America. All of the Yaupon Brothers trees are also grown in certified organic “Forest Farms” on the Atlantic coast of Florida.
On a nature walk on Ossabaw Island, GA, “Crawfish” Crawford introduced Lou’s family to Yaupon, The Beloved Tree. Upon hearing the amazing story of Yaupon, Lou embarked on the mission to bring the native Yaupon back to health-minded consumers.
Follow our blog as Yaupon Lou talks about Yaupon Holly, America’s forgotten Medicinal Plant. Ethno-history, science, research, R&D, regenerative agriculture, lifestyle products and more are covered in our blogs. .
Lou, Lori, Carin, Hannah, Olive, Ruy, Mark, Brianna, Brittany, Emily, Kendal, Andrew and more help our little Yaupon business grow. We are thankful to each for their love of the plant, help, advice, good humor, work ethic and joining the Yaupon Journey. .
Read about Yaupon Tea Company
Lou, The Yaupon Tea Company and Yaupon Teahouse + Apothecary have been featured in national and regional publications for their mission-based Yaupon story.
Abby - Herbalist & Botanist
Yaupon Tea Company has many friends & advisors: Chemistry, Agonomy, Herb Processing and more. We love collabs with true herbalists & botanists like Abby from the Wander School to help us dive deeper into plants and the magic of Yaupon.
Our mission is to understand the ancient uses of Yaupon among the native tribes of the southeast. Along with our USDA sponsored research, we make Yaupon inspired, holistic consumer products for health & wellness. Herbal tea blends, clean beauty, natural body care, herbal smokes and more amazing products.
Statements on this site have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Yaupon ATA-218 - History
As you traverse the Lowcountry, do you look twice at the humble Yaupon holly? Do you even know what a Yaupon holly is?
The Yaupon (Yo-Pawn) is that innocuous little bush you see in landscaping all around the Lowcountry. Sometimes as a dwarf varietal filling in a bare spot in a flower bed, sometimes as a small tree bordering the marshlands of our maritime forests, the Yaupon holly is that wiry, shrub-like plant with the red berries that you’ve probably already ignored three or four times today.
But with all due respect to the Palmetto tree’s role in the defense of Charleston during the Revolutionary War, this little plant has probably done more for our area history than any other vegetation.
Before the Europeans had ever heard of South Carolina, there were the many Native American tribes that called it home. And those natives knew better than to overlook the Yaupon. By boiling the leaves and twigs, they found that they could create a tea that somehow left them feeling more alert and revived. They gave this tea names like “asi,” “black drink,” or “big magic,” and it soon earned it a spot in important cultural rituals of several tribes.
But the big magic of the Yaupon holly isn’t spiritual, it’s chemical. That’s because the Yaupon holly is the only caffeinated plant that grows naturally in the United States. The natives had essentially discovered Red Bull.
And for a time in the pre-history of North America, Yaupon was a hot commodity. Archaeological digs in California and Canada have turned up plenty of Yaupon leaves, thousands of miles from the Southeastern marshes where they grow, which means that the “big magic” was big business for the traders among the coastal Indian tribes.
The knowledge of this miraculous energy-boosting leaf wasn’t lost when the natives were eventually forced out by the white settlers, either. As wars from French and Indian to Civil raged in the ensuing centuries, Southerners deprived of tea and coffee due to the conflict were quick to take to the forests in search of Yaupon holly.
Unfortunately, those white settlers that didn’t recognize the black drink for the antioxidant-rich proto-Cappuccino it was ended up spreading some pretty unfortunate stereotypes. The scientific name for the plant, Ilex Vomitoria, came from colonial naturalists observing a few of the native rituals, some of which commonly ended with participants, well, vomiting.
Because of this, and because eating the berries can make you sick, these early naturalists assumed that Yaupon was an emetic. For the record, it is not. But you know how these rumors get started one early colonial naturalist says it and the next thing you know we’re putting the word vomit in the plant’s name and doing everything we can not to drink it.
This false assumption about Yaupon has lasted centuries now, but that could all change if Lou Thomann has anything to say about it.
“I took a nature trip to Ossebaw Island, with this naturalist named John ‘Crawfish’ Crawford,” Thomann said, explaining his first encounter with the plant. “We walked by a yaupon tree and he said this was what the natives made a ‘tea-like beverage’ out of. So I said let’s make some. I tried it and loved it.”
That encounter with the tea on a quiet island 20 miles from Savannah led Thomann to a revelation, not to mention loads of historical research on what this tea once was and where it went.
“The Yaupon holly is truly a lost American treasure,” said Thomann. “It’s part of this fantastic native and early Colonial story that’s just gone.”
As the founder of ASI Yaupon Tea, Thomann has been bringing back the black drink, bottling it for a new generation, and spreading the gospel of this once-lost spiritual beverage.
By harvesting and cultivating new growth from wild-picked leaves and twigs, Thomann has been able to take this ancient ritual that inspired him so much and manufacture it, if such a term can be applied to what ASI does.
Yaupon, a native Florida tea, is making a comeback.
A favorite native landscaping plant is being rediscovered as a caffeinated drink, an alternative to the imported tea that 159 million Americans drink every day. We are talking about Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria Aiton), a common landscaping plant used to build hedges. This evergreen plant, native to the Southeast, was widely used by Native Americans in various ways including making tea. This is the only native plant known to contain caffeine in North America and produces 30% more antioxidants than the typical black and green tea.
Showing a Yaupon tree and its characteristically serrated leaves.
There are now at least nine small companies in the country that are growing and marketing yaupon as a local, native alternative to tea. One of those companies is located in Volusia County, Florida. Entrepreneur Bryon White was a native plant enthusiast years ago. He learned about the interesting history of yaupon and decided to experiment with the wild type yaupon. He served it to friends and family and they liked the taste, aroma and the caffeine boost. People would buy yaupon tea if they understood its rich history, and where it is coming from, Bryon thought.
After some trial and error, he realized that there could be a healthy demand for yaupon tea and that’s when Bryan and his brother Kyle decided to jump into business. Since 2012 their certified organic business, Yaupon Brothers, markets its tea to many parts in the country and abroad. Their market is concentrated in the Southeast through a few big box stores, direct sales through Amazon and independent health food retailers. They also have a strong following locally in New Smyrna Beach, where their company is located. Most of their tea comes from wild yaupon that is harvested following the USDA organic regulations. They currently have 50 acres of wild harvested yaupon. Only 5% of their tea comes from cultivated trees.
Bryon believes that yaupon could be a profitable alternative crop for Florida growers, and there is certainly a lot to love about the environmental benefits of growing a native crop. Take for example that yaupon can be grown with little maintenance in the way of fertilizers. Irrigation is necessary only during crop establishment, as the tree is very drought tolerant. Yaupon is also salt and frost tolerant, as well as pest and disease free pesticides are rarely needed. This fast growing tree can grow up to 30 feet but keeping the height around 7 to 8 feet is optimal. The trees can be harvested after two or three years, harvest occurs once a year. The leaves are then washed, dried, cleaned and milled to four to six millimeter particle size. This is then sifted and sold in teabags.
Bryon showing fresh made Yaupon tea bags.
Bryon recognizes that there is a lot of unanswered questions about yaupon production. For example, formal yaupon research is needed to figure out recommended density and profitability per area. Despite this, his company is looking for growers who want to grow yaupon, but due to lack of proven profitability numbers, they are hesitant to try. Bryon is pitching the idea of planting yaupon as a windbreak tree that you can harvest from. A plus is, Bryon’s company would supply the trees. Given the demand that Bryon has seen and how little-known yaupon still is, he believes that the demand for this crop will grow substantially. It requires a leap of faith, Bryon said, but it is worth trying. It is certainly profitable for me to grow it and sell it. I believe that Yaupon has a bright future in Florida, he said.
The Future of Yaupon tea
Consumers care a lot more about where their food comes from, and yet, they don’t know where their tea comes from, Bryon said. They don’t know what standards of quality and sustainability were used to grow their tea. Now you have a local, native crop alternative where consumers can learn exactly how we are growing it, harvesting it and processing it he said.
Bryon is in touch with other yaupon companies and are getting together to create the American Yaupon Association, which will provide support to market this native tea alternative to Americans. All in all, yaupon tea production appears to be a win-win-win for producers, consumers and the environment.
The Low-Key Caffeinated Iced Tea I’m Drinking to Hold on to Summer
Yaupon Brothers’ lavender-coconut tea is not my usual. cup of tea. I’m a pretty loyal oolong/green/jasmine drinker. Coconut? How’d you get in here? But when I tried it at the Fancy Food Show this year, I was entranced. It was refreshing and summery, and unlike anything I’d ever had before. The flavor was barely floral, fragrant with coconut and a slightly green undertone.
Yaupon is—fun fact—the only known caffeinated plant native to the U.S. (It’s a tree, and the tea is made from the holly-like leaves.) It’s packed with antioxidants and roughly the same amount of caffeine as yerba mate. Yaupon Brothers—based in Florida, where the Timucua tribe once grew, drank, traded, and used yaupon in religious ceremonies—acknowledges Native Americans’ thousand-plus-year history with the plant by sending a portion of sales to NATIFS, a non-profit founded by chef Sean Sherman that re-establishes indigenous foodways to generate wealth and improve health in Native communities.
The company also produces a traditional green tea, a spiced chai, and a “fire-roasted” tea in addition to the lavender-coconut. I cold brew a bag in a pint of water overnight, and the next day, it’s lightly infused and ready to go. You could doctor it up with maple syrup and a squeeze of lemon, or oomph up the flavor by cold-steeping two or three tea bags at once. Just imagine how cuuute it could be in a pitcher with a sprig of fresh lavender as garnish. —Alex Beggs, senior staff writer
All products featured on Healthyish are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Yaupon (pronounced yo—pawn)—North America’s only native caffeine plant—was revered by the native peoples of the continent’s southern regions. Nearly forgotten, the “Black Drink” as it was called, has re-emerged amidst the movement toward sustainably-harvested local-food.
Yaupon Tea, upgrade your caffeine routine today. Choose local!
Did you know that Yerba Maté has a North American sibling? America’s Indigenous Stimulant is Back!
YAUPON is the only caffeinated plant native to North America. Native Americans of the Southeast created an herbal infusion of its leaves, called “black drink, for social and ceremonial uses. Oftentimes the leaves were roasted over coals for a period of time before steeping to enhance different properties and flavors. Likewise, each of our three roasts has different characteristics and flavors:
Decoding the Roasts:
- The Green un-roasted leaves have the best buzz and all the fresh flavors of traditional green tea, but with lower tannin levels making the flavor delicate and less astringent.
- The Medium roast has a smooth and mild flavor with caramel undertones, similar to Yerba Maté.
- The Dark roast has a stronger, richer flavor similar to a black tea and is the most coffee-esque. We especially like it naturally sweetened and blended with pastured butter or Surthrival ghee.
Yaupon contains a balance of caffeine and theobromine (the same gentle stimulant found in cacao) to offer all the energy and enhanced focus of coffee, but without unwanted side effects like heart-racing, jitters, and digestive upset (1,2). It also boasts beneficial levels of ursolic acid, which is known to preserve and build skeletal mass, assist in stabilizing blood sugar, and promote mitochondria-rich brown fat for increased energy expenditure (3).
Suggested Usage 1 teaspoon per cup of hot water (but we like to double– Ok, sometimes triple– that!). Let steep for 5 minutes, then simply strain and it's ready to drink! Unlike coffee or tea, Yaupon is free of bitter tannins so don't worry if you let it steep longer.
- Caffeine boost without jitters or energy crash
- Less disruption of the central nervous system
- Rich in polyphenols and antioxidants
- Contains Theobromine
- A wild whole plant
- Free of herbicides or any agricultural treatments
- Sustainable and ethical harvest
- Available in three roasts
- Easy and versatile to use
- Product of the USA
As a thriving and invasive species, Yaupon provides a more local and sustainable source for caffeine that eliminates the reliance on imports, mono-cropping, and unethical labor practices required for the mass production of many popular coffees and teas. Our sourcing provides much-needed opportunity to the surrounding community by employing people with criminal records (for whom it is extremely difficult to find work), and to women experiencing generational poverty. Yaupon is an evergreen, so year-round harvesting and production offers more than just seasonal job opportunities. It is also a bit of an ecological nuisance, so more harvesting means more employment and more product reaching consumers. Everyone wins.
CLASSIFICATION & HISTORY
Yaupon has an unfortunate and misrepresentative botanical classification: Ilex vomitoria. In the same genus as Ilex paraguariensis, which we all know as Yerba Maté, as well as almost 600 other species, the genus encompasses varieties of holly. When settlers arrived on the scene and began observing and classifying plant species, they encountered the ceremonial use of Yaupon by the Southeastern Native Americans for rituals of purging, during which partakers would drink copious amounts of Yaupon—often mixed with other herbal ingredients—and then induce themselves to vomit. This intentional purification practice was mistaken for Yaupon having an emetic effect, which turned out to be false. Nevertheless, the classification stands, but we promise you’ll be able to keep it down!
Native Americans used Yaupon almost ubiquitously across the Southeastern United States—in some cases for ceremonial and ritual purposes, in others for social interactions and peace-making. After the land was colonized, Yaupon remained a popular drink and even found its way by export to England and France. It’s popularity quickly flatlined, however. Some speculate that it was due to William Aiton’s official classification—vomitoria being a less-than-enticing name— while others suggest that imported coffees and teas simply became the expensive, fad, exotic, and elite choice for caffeine. Yaupon was all but forgotten except by those living close to the land. Until now.
With the essential re-emergence of the sustainable and local food movement, Yaupon stands a chance at revolutionizing the future of caffeine, re-establishing our connection to our local landscapes, and resolving conflict over ecological and ethical practices the world over.
Anyone who was paying attention in junior high history class may remember that tea originated in China and was spread to India in an attempt by the tea-loving British to break the Chinese monopoly. Closer to home, tea played a significant role in American history, as the British Tea Act of 1773 became the final straw in a series of unpopular policies that ultimately compelled the Sons of Liberty to board three ships moored in Boston Harbor and destroy over 92,000 pounds of the British East India Company’s favorite export. Meanwhile, Southeastern American Indians were imbibing Yaupon, the only plant native to North America known to contain caffeine.
• Yaupon (pronounced YO-pon) — a name that comes from the word for “little tree” in the Catawban language — is an indigenous plant from the holly family. Research has shown that yaupon has a rich local history. In addition to being used as a daily social drink, Native Americans alsocemployed it as a ceremonial beverage and an energizingcdrink before battle. They also dried, packed and transported the leaves hundreds of miles as a means of trade and commerce.
• Early Colonists drank yaupon tea, and in 1700, the tea was even exported to Europe. But yaupon was eventually elbowed aside when drinking it became associated with not having the resources to afford imported tea. A brief revival resulted during the Civil War when imported goods were hard to come by, but decreased later as European teas became accessible once again.
Good news for locavores: yaupon is back (though, in reality, it never went away).
• This drought-tolerant plant grows from the East Coast to Texas. Florida’s sandy soils offer the perfect conditions for such a salinity-tolerant and adaptive plant. A perennial evergreen shrub capable of reaching approximately 30 feet in height, yaupon can be aggressive in its spread. But this characteristic, considered invasive by farmers who want to clear land for other purposes, makes it the perfect sustainable crop for the responsible producer and the informed consumer.
• A growing consumer interest has driven scientific and academic studies of yaupon’s biology, photochemistry and relevance to health promotion. Yaupon contains theobromine,the mood elevator familiar to lovers of bittersweet dark chocolate, which balances out the caffeine to reduce “jitters."
• Yaupon is also rich in polyphenols, micronutrients shown to support the prevention of degenerative diseases, particularly cardiovascular diseases and cancers. Its antioxidant properties are more stable than green tea and lower tannin levels means that it won’t become bitter with over-steeping.
• Science and research aside, yaupon continues to grow in popularity for its mildly sweet, roasted flavor and its uplifting, gentle boost. The tea can steeped by the same methods as any other loose leaf tea, served hot or iced for flavor ranging from a light nutty sweetness to a deeper,darker brew with no bitterness.
As St. Augustine’s own Cultivate Tea and Spice, Co. can attest, no matter how you steep it, wild-harvested yaupon is quickly becoming a favorite among North Florida locals.
Ready to sample some yaupon tea? Look for Cultivate Tea and Spice Company products at local stores or a farmers' market near you.