Friday, December 04, 2015

Yaupon Tea

Yaupon holly grows wild on Ocracoke Island.

Many of our readers know that islanders have traditionally used the dried leaves, which contain caffeine and theobromine (an alkaloid found in conventional tea and chocolate), to make a local tea substitute.

Native Americans were the first to discover yaupon tea. Some sources identify yaupon tea as the "black drink" used in purification rituals. Because the ceremonies involved vomiting, Europeans gave yaupon its Latin name, Ilex vomitoria. However, yaupon does not have emetic properties unless drunk in great quantities, or in combination with other substances made from roots and herbs, and/or after fasting.

Village Craftsmen often has locally harvested yaupon tea for sale. Try it sometime. It is quite refreshing.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Capt. Horatio Williams and his schooner, the Paragon. You can read the story here:

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:48 PM

    Back in the early 70's there was a nice old black lady, Bryant, maybe(?) anyway it was near her house on lighthouse rd, I believe, that I experienced yaupon tea.
    We were maybe 16, 17years old, on our skate boards. It was a very hot day. We came across a couple of kids selling 'Ocracoke Tea' for a dime I think. Anyway we bought a couple of cups. This stuff looked like puddle water, but it had ice in it so it didn't matter. when we tasted it we spit it out. It was the nastiest tasting stuff I ever tasted. we spit it out and swore and danced around and we were going to kill that kid for tricking us into buying 'tea, this was no Lipton Tea. We were HOT and ready to fight.

    The black lady came out (yes this is what 'African - Americans' wanted to be called then, either Black or Negro, The black lady came out and calmed us down and told us yes it was the tea that was made on Ocracoke. I couldn't believe that this stuff was consumed on purpose. The lady was nice so we got back on our skateboards and scooted off toward the lighthouse, still hot from the sun and maybe being tricked. To this day I will not even look at that nasty stuff.

    The lady stopped us from beating up the kid and taking our money back. Which was good because I the kid was innocent.