Got Black Drink?
Calm down, it's just a tea ... an AMERICAN tea.
Yaupon Holly loaded with ripe berries.
The leaves (NOT THE BERRIES!) are the source of the BLACK DRINK, a native American tea, consumed by both first immigrant peoples and the European colonists who followed. It was a ceremonial drink for Florida tribes and later an Asian tea substitute for poor southern colonists.
Some accounts describe Florida tribal warriors drinking great amounts of it before battle. That would make sense as caffeine has stimulant properties that heighten the senses. The "vomitoria" species name seems to be a misnomer based on early descriptions of Floridian tribes drinking the black drink and then purging.
The drink itself doesn't seem to cause vomiting. The hurling could be due to other herbs added or simply a ritual finger down the throat.
My sources say it is the only American native caffeinated beverage with the perky punch of a cup of coffee.
(Okay, my sources didn't say "perky punch"... that was mine)
I had put off making black drink for a long time ... one of those,
" Hey I need to ___________ sometime" brainstorms that gets filed away due to a busy life.
Last Sunday, I decided to make my own black drink.
First I gathered fresh yaupon (Ilex vomitoria) leaves after a cleansing rain. They grow all over my woods, so that was pretty easy to do.
The big, big, BIG caution here is to never eat any wild plant if you are not sure of it's identification and that (duh) it is safe to consume.
Following the recipe in "Florida's First Peoples", by Robin Brown, I toasted the leaves before boiling them in a pot of water to make my tea.
Yes, I DID burn the first batch ... how did you know that?
Gotta love those smoke alarms.
So how did it taste?
I liked it.
There was a mild bitterness, but not as much as a strong cup of coffee. Even Mrs. FC sipped a little and pronounced it, "Not horrible, but tasting like wet leaves".
She says the same thing about my fancy store bought green tea so that's a pretty good endorsement.