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: www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112115.htm.