Ancient foods that show the wisdom of elders, are a source of curiosity to curious foodies and history buffs alike. Many of these foods were sourced from wild-harvested plants, and were often deemed to have healing, sacred, spiritual properties by the native communities who consumed and revered them. In modern times, many of these foods have been forgotten due to the passing of time and the trend towards modern, urban lifestyles.
One such food is yaupon (Ilex vomitoria), which is native to the South Eastern United States. The yaupon plant is an evergreen shrub, whose leaves and stems were used by Native Americans to brew a kind of tea-like drink. Yaupon is a source of caffeine and theobromines, and belongs to the same family as the yerba mate and guayusa plants. Theobromines (a naturally occuring compound found in cacao) and natural sugars, give yaupon it’s unique flavour. When the Spanish settlers landed in the southern states of the new world, and learned about yaupon from the Timucuan Indians, they named it Chocolate del Indio – Indian Chocolate.
In recent years, yaupon has been rediscovered, and is being produced commercially as a beverage in modern day America. The Yaupon Wellness Company, under the brand name ASI, have embarked on an mission and ongoing voyage of discovery to learn about the power of the yaupon plant. While they continue to study the plant, they have launched a range of flavoured and unflavoured yaupon teas.
I spoke to Lou Thomann, the founder of the Yaupon Wellness Company, to learn more about the work they are doing in the world of yaupon. You can hear the interview by clicking on the play button below.