Yaupon, also known as ilex vomitoria, or yaupon holly, is North America’s only caffeinated plant. That’s right; this little inconspicuous holly is the only caffeinated drink you can get that is native to North America. Yaupon tea benefits are great, but its history is even more remarkable.
What Is Yaupon Tea & Where It Came From
Yaupon “tea” (in parentheses because it was more of an odd brew than a tea) goes back centuries. Since it’s the only caffeinated plant in North America, you can imagine the natives loved it as soon as they found out about it. And you’ll be right.
Many Native American tribes used this plant and admired it for its magical healing and energizing qualities. The Cherokees even called it “the beloved tree”. It was used in rituals such as the Black Drink and regularly drank before going into battle or making important decisions.
When the Europeans arrived, the Native Americans shared their love for yaupon. In fact, in 1615, Francisco Ximénez reported:
“there is no Spaniard or Indian who does not drink it every day in the morning and evening . . . it is more of a vice than chocolate in New Spain.” — “any day that a Spaniard does not drink it, he feels that he is going to die.“
Yes, the love for yaupon was strong. And in addition to being known for energizing and healing, it was also valued as a strong diuretic, and it was believed to prevent urinary infections.
So now that you know what yaupon is and where it came from, let’s see what kind of benefits yaupon tea offers.
Yaupon Tea Benefits
Yaupon contains a wide variety of bioactive compounds, each affecting the body in different ways. Here are some of the most substantial beneficial effects.
Healthier Circulatory System
Quercetin-rutinoside, also known as rutin, is a flavonoid found in certain plants, yaupon included.
It’s known to strengthen and increase the flexibility of blood vessels, prevent blood clots, and lower cholesterol. Kaempferol, another type of flavonoid that yaupon tea contains, also has similar effects.
Free radicals are a common cause of disease; they’re basically atoms that roam the body freely and look for healthy cells to attach to.
Once they do, they often cause damage that leads to infection (which goes away once the immune system takes care of it) and less often develops into Alzheimer’s, asthma, diabetes, dementia, cancer, and more.
The only thing that fights these free radicals are antioxidants, which yaupon tea contains plenty of. Rutin, kaempferol, Isorhamnetin, Cytotoxin, and Chlorogenic Acid, are all potent antioxidants.
It seems like the natives were right when they assumed yaupon prevents urinary infections.
Other than actively preventing inflammations, yaupon tea can also fight existing inflammations. That is because Rutin and Kaempferol also have active anti-inflammatory properties.
This translates to a potential improvement of symptoms of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, lupus, bowel syndrome, and more. As well as a decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes, depression, and more.
Energy, Focus, And Stamina
You may be thinking these yaupon tea benefits come solely from its caffeine content, well, you’re partially wrong. While yaupon does provide these effects due to caffeine, it also contains theobromine, theophylline and theacrine.
Theobromine has similar, albeit softer, effects to that of caffeine and it also bolsters up the respiratory system.
Theophylline also bolsters up the respiratory system as well as relaxes and opens air passages in the lungs. And theacrine stimulates the central nervous system, leading to more energy, endurance, and focus.
Yaupon Tea Side Effects
Usually when something is so beneficial it has some adverse side effects, even coffee does. Well, luckily, yaupon tea doesn’t seem to have any side effects. However, excessive use can lead to jitteriness, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
Yaupon Tea Caffeine Content
Yaupon tea contains between 0.65 percent to 0.85 percent caffeine by weight. Compared to coffee’s 1.2 percent, you can assume that roughly every cup of yaupon tea equals to half a cup of coffee.
So yaupon is a refreshing and energizing tea with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s a great substitute for coffee if you’re looking for a more mellow and natural energy kick.
Now that yaupon benefits are clear, are you going to try some? Let us know in the comments below!
And if you’re looking for another unique tea, check out our article about peach tea.