Wednesday, January 25, 2017

How To Make America's Tea... Yaupon Holly Tea.

As soon as I finish this delicious cup of Yaupon Holly Tea, I'll show you how to make it.

As always, Pure Florida was ahead of the curve and I actually published a post about Yaupon Tea back in 2008, almost exactly 9 years ago.
Now there are some commercial Yaupon Teas available and I even received some store bought Yaupon Tea for Christmas.

It was good with a smoky deep roasted flavor, but come on, this stuff grows wild all over my 10 acres.

I am always willing to make something myself if I've got what it takes, and in this case, I'm loaded with what it takes.
So here is all it takes to make a delicious cup of America's Tea, Yaupon .
First ... and this is pretty important, KNOW YOUR PLANT BEFORE YOU CONSUME IT!
Also we are only working with the leaves.
Leaves, people, LEAVES.

Every wild holly is not Yaupon. Also, invasive Chinese Privet looks similar, but doesn't have the leaf serration you see above.
IF you are sure the bush in front of you is Yaupon Holly, just grasp a twig as shown and pull towards your body. 
The leaves will come off easily. I carried a colander in one hand and stripped with the other.

Don't strip the entire bush, but you can be aggressive. Yaupon responds to pruning or cutting with a vigorous outburst of new growth.

It's a tough as nails native.
There's a lot to be said for that.

Rinse off all the bird poop and frass.
(What, you think birds don't poop on your store bought teas from foreign lands?)

After rinsing, let the leaves dry off before roasting.
I just patted mine with paper towels, they were not totally dry, but not sopping wet either.

Spread the leaves out on a baking sheet and place in a 
350F  degree oven for at least 15 minutes. 
You can play with the time and go for longer darker roasts if you like. I checked them at 15 minutes, but chose to keep them in for about another 8 minutes ... so about 23 minutes.

Above, they are out of the oven and nicely browned.

You can crush them by hand, but I love this little Black & Decker whacker for a job like this.
I processed them just enough to break them down into small pieces, and then I forced those through a strainer.

After mooshing them through the strainer, I had ready to use Yaupon tea as seen below.

Store it in a airtight container and you are good to go.
I use 2 Teaspoons of the Yaupon tea in one mug of tea. It's loose leaf tea, so of course you will need a tea strainer of some kind.

I found that even with a seemingly tight loose leaf teaball type strainer with fine mesh, I still had tea particles escape from the strainer and into the "tea".

They quickly settled to the bottom though, leaving a beautiful clear tea. The crystal tea cup turned out to be perfect for this situation as the cup stem acts like a catch basin for the tea leaf that escaped the strainer.

To me, Yaupon tastes like the best green tea ever and I am a green tea lover.

Like my coffee, I don't add anything to my tea ... no sugar, honey (which is just sugar), milk, pumpkin spice, etc.

Research shows Yaupon is about 0.65-0.85 % caffeine, while coffee is 1.1% and tea is 3.5%.
So the caffeine is perky, but not overwhelming if that is a concern.

It's also packed with some antioxidants to protect your cells and you ARE your cells so give it a try.

In closing, if you are a history buff, you may have read the the native tribes of the Southeast drank Yaupon, as a purging agent before warring upon each other.  The ritualistic purging before battle was observed and described by Spanish colonists, but Yaupon leaves do not cause nausea. 
It only takes a few fingers in the throat to purge, so while fasting, drinking lots of strong black drink (yaupon tea), and purging were recorded, it probably wasn't the tea that caused the purging
.Also there could have been other items in the black drink too.
We really don't know.

So don't let the scientific name, Ilex vomitoria scare you off.

Here is a really good article about the history of Yaupon from the Gainesville Sun.

My plan this spring is to locate promising Yaupons in my woods and offer them both fertilizer and the trimming of nearby oaks, etc. so they get all the light and food they need.
I'm not "leafing" my supply of delicous, free Yaupon Tea to chance.


Elaine W said...

Glad to see you are a fan of yaupon tea! I love it too. I demonstrations and lectures on Florida Native American foods, and I always make yaupon tea. I parch my leaves in an iron skillet and just pulverize them in a plastic bag with a wooden mallet. Then I brew the tea in a coffee maker with a filter. Delicious! goes great with smoked fish, rabbit stew, and hickory nut cakes - or Oreos.

robin andrea said...

I've never heard of this tea, but I am a tea drinker. We make a pot of English Breakfast Tea every morning. The next time we're at the local food co-op I'll check their teas to see if they have Yaupon. It does sound yummy.

Kim S. said...

Great story and thoroughly enjoyed the lead up to the scientific name. My cousin lives on Big Pine Key. Not sure if the plant grows there, but I'm going to send this link. Looks tasty and like a fun project. Thanks, FC. Kim in PA

Anonymous said...

glad to read that your tea is unsweetened (of course)!

Julie Zickefoose said...

What a cool post! Well-illustrated and I can almost taste that tea. Thank you! And, being a Science Chimp and knowing it was Ilex vomitoria, I was worried. Now I can rest easy (urrrp!)