Uncategorized black drink, caffeine, cassina, coffee, Florida, Florida Archaeology Month, Florida Archaeology Month 2011, Florida Public Archaeology Network, Ilex vomitoria, medicine, North America, North Carolina, plant Yaupon, pre-columbian, purging, Southeastern Indian, tea, trade, vomit, Yaupon Holly, yaupon tea No Comments
Possibly the most misunderstood medicine plant in the southeast, Yaupon is widely believed to induce vomiting. This idea is false; yaupon tea no more induces vomiting than does coffee or the tea we drink today. This misconception likely arises from early European observers misinterpreting the ceremonial activities of native southeastern people.
While some ritual purging of the beverage may have occurred in certain circumstances, this purging was voluntary. It was usually accomplished by a large quantity of hot tea being consumed very quickly, the purging was not induced by any chemical compounds in the plant.
Yaupon is the only plant native to North America known to produce significant amounts of caffeine, yaupon was an extremely valued commodity in pre-Columbian society. The plant, plant parts, and plant products were traded extensively from the Ohio River Valley to peninsular Florida, the coastal Carolinas and beyond.
Shortly after arrival in Florida, the Spanish began to suffer shortages of coffee, and quickly adopted the native tea as a replacement. Consumption of yaupon tea remained popular throughout the southeast for centuries, and persists in some areas today. Modern inhabitants of North Carolinas outer banks region drink yaupon tea, called cassina.