Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Black Drink


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.

Got tea?

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.


threecollie said...

I like that shirt! My personal tea of choice is Yogi lemon ginger...

pabloh said...

But you didn't discuss one possible ingredient.

I thought your shirt was going to say GOT SLEEVES?

roger said...

so how much of that tea did you drink before that wide-eyed picture? you do look AWAKE.

robin andrea said...

You are full of surprises, fc. Homemade black tea? I had no idea. Got ammo? I'd say your tea has plenty.

kevin said...

Great! A gun nut hopped up on caffiene. Somewhere a liberal is cringing.

Put some ice, and lime in it and I'll give it try.

Leslie said...

Your wife is a brave woman; I hope she made you drink first.

Anonymous said...

Or you could just grow Camelia Sinensis in the backyard and have...tea. It's got some ugly and boring flowers and you have to jump through hoops to get that whole Earl Grey thing going, but you could just dry it and drink it or skip the drying altogether and steep green leaves.

life on the road said...

My friends and I drink this on occasion. We also like to collect different things to spice up our salads like dog fennel, dandelion leaves, and even fresh baby dollarweed.

Deb said...

I could tell from that first photo it wasn't a stout or porter...no thick foamy head.

Makes me wonder why certain plants create caffeine. Or any of the zillions of other useful chemical compounds plants make. It can't all be for the plant's benefit!

Floridacracker said...

I'm partial to green, but some of these berry teas are pretty good. I thought your lad might appreciate that shirt.

Just straight tea. Honest.
It's winter so sleeves are fashionable.

i was trying to show my surprise at the fact that it wasn't half bad!
working the camera!

You're right, I think it's loaded.

We could have used this on that Oklawaha adventure ... you know I have to blog that one eventually.
Gun nut? LOL!We prefer "firearms fanatic".

I tell her that all the time. What was she thinking when she said yes?

I have often thought about doing that, but have not taken the plunge.
Welcome to Pure Florida!

Dog fennel? Ugh.
How do you like the Black Drink?

Do you think plants somehow knew we heterotrophs would have incredibly busy lives and need a legal safe stimulant?

SophieMae said...

A man after my own heart! I'm always up for a stalking the wild asparagus kind of experiment. DS is more likely than Duller to be a willing accomplice, but they both do a lot of head-shaking.

Speaking of DS, he'll definitely want one of those shirts. 8-]

Kimberlee said...

Hey, I like that title, "black drink"...it has more perky punch than just plain old "tea." Is that your contribution or did it come with the recipe?

And it looks interesting! Labrador tea is a local indigenous plant up here. They say it's supposed to be good for you, but it smells like cedar trees to me. I can't imagine how THAT would taste good. :)

Floridacracker said...

You can get that shirt at Pickett Weaponry in Newberry next time you are on one of your adventures! I am very familiar with the headshake too!

Perky punch is all mine :)
I've heard of teas made from pine parts and I agree the taste is not appealing.

kevin said...

Do you have any photos of the Oklawaha trip? What would we have used it for? Keeping us awake on the midnight paddle? Starting a fire? Warding off evil spirits?

Sharon said...

Black drink, hmmm...I don't drink coffee so probably wouldn't like it. Nice mug though, and as always, I learned something new here today! :)

SwampAngel65 said...

Well, I have learned something today! Whenever I have heard or read about Dahoon holly and the black drink, it ALWAYS referred to it as being a purgative (is the right?) that the Seminoles would drink during their Green Corn ceremonies.

Hmm! Now I think I must try this tea sometime...now that I know I won't puke from it :)

Thanks for a dose of knowledge today!

Floridacracker said...

I was thinking it would have tasted good on that mosquitoey rainy tentless night,sleeping sitting up in a poncho.
Those pics are slides and I think there's only a few. The chicken just before it fell into the fire was one of them.

Yeah, it may not be your thing if you don't drink coffee.

This is Yaupon not Dahoon so no guarantees on the hurling part.
Yerba mate is a holly too, so maybe the hollies are a cafeinated bunch!

life on the road said...

It's strong but pretty nice. Plus, I love eating native things. My friends and I like to have Wild Tapas night where we eat deer, muskrat, snake, salads, etc. It's always something new. My latest fixation is trying armadillo but I haven't done it yet.

And the dog fennel isn't so bad...especially the new growth. It's sweet like carrots...with a bitter aftertaste that you get use to. Chewing Hercule's Club is the weird thing, have you tried that?

Floridacracker said...

I've done Hercules Club and armadillo is greasy :)