Did you know there’s only one caffeinated plant native to North America? Yaupon is the only domestic source – “it’s Texan for tea,” says Abianne Falla, co-founder of CatSpring Yaupon, a brand that cultivates and roasts farm-fresh yaupon.
CatSpring Yaupon is more than a beverage, though, says Abianne. The company is “a platform for dignified employment opportunities in our rural community through our harvesting and packaging and production facility,” she says.
The company sells the item via e-commerce and sells it to other companies, including kombucha brewers, energy drink makers, restaurants, hotels, and bars.
The product itself has a fascinating history. Yaupon traditionally flourishes along the Gulf Coast and partway up the East Coast. Virtually every indigenous community had a tradition of using it, with historical references going as far back as 1542. Ultimately its use waned as Native Americans were forced to relocate, and British traders pushed the use of imported tea. It wasn’t until a bad drought devastated Texas in 2011 that attention turned back to the very resilient yaupon still prospering in the state.
At the same time, studies from the University of Florida and Texas A&M University uncovered the caffeine content of the shrub and its health benefits.
“It’s hard – it’s nuanced – especially in light of the indigenous history. How do we pay respect to the centuries and millennia of the people that drank this and then were wholly eradicated?” she says. “There’s no tradition in our rural community. … Our family was from the Cherokee, the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma. And so while that’s part of our family, the yaupon wasn’t part of the tradition…so there’s a lot of nuances that come into sharing in a respectful way.”
In Part 1, Abianne talks about:
* Gratitude for a blacksmith shop owner who converted his shop into a production facility, allowing CatSpring Yaupon to overcome early challenges and create deeper ties to its community.
* A background and history of yaupon.
* The health benefits of the shrub.
* How she and her family grew to think of the plant as a possible source of employment.
* The challenge of revitalizing the use of the product in a respectful way.
For more on CatSpring Yaupon, visit: https://catspringtea.com/
This episode is brought to you by Sendlane.
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