Yaupon Brothers Native American Tea

Did you know that Native Americans in the Southeastern U.S. invented the first energy drink thousands of years ago? The “black drink,” as it was called by early Europeans due to its color, was a type of tea brewed from the leaves of the yaupon holly plant. This plant is the only species in North America that contains caffeine. Now a Florida-based duo, the Yaupon Brothers, have revived this ancient beverage and are selling packages of this tea online.

Eyewitness account of warriors drinking (and regurgitating) yaupon holly tea prepared by women near the first French colony, Fort Caroline, in La Florida. (Engraving by de Bry from original watercolor by le Moyne.)

Native Americans prepared this beverage by first roasting the leaves then brewing them in large pots. The beverage was then served steaming hot in a large whelk seashell drinking vessel. Before serving, they whipped the tea vigorously in order to create a foamy froth on top like a modern-day cappuccino. Women brewed and served the drink to men but were forbidden from drinking it themselves.

 

The beverage was consumed by warriors in a purification ritual before going into battle. When used for purification purposes it was known as the “white drink.” Interestingly, in addition to caffeine, the yaupon holly plant also contains significant antioxidants thus scientifically validating its “purification” properties. It was also drunk during long council meetings to maintain alertness.

Yaupon grows wild in the Deep South states of Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, South & North Carolina. The tea was called cassina by the Timucua tribe of Florida and Georgia. It was called asi by the Creek tribe. Among the Catawba of South and North Carolina it was known as yopún from which the modern name, yaupon, is derived.

Yaupon Brothers sell both a traditional Warrior’s Brew as well as modern flavors such as Lavender Coconut, Seminole Chai and Traditional Green. Buy some today to connect with the ancient traditions of Native America.

Gary C. Daniels

Gary C. Daniels is an award-winning, Emmy-nominated television, video and multimedia writer and producer. He has a passion for history, archaeology, and astronomy. He is the founder and publisher of LostWorlds.org.