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Yaupon Tea

December 1, 2014

Can you get a caffeine fix without growing your carbon footprint?




Yaupon tea is made from the leaves of Ilex vomitaria. (Mary Vaux Walcott)

Locally grown caffeine. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Science Update listener John R. from Takoma Park, Maryland is interested in reducing his carbon footprint by eating only local food, but doesn’t want to give up caffeine. We spoke to University of Florida ecologist Matt Palumbo who suggests something called Yaupon tea, a high-caffeine beverage native Americans made from the leaf of a kind of holly bush native to the southeastern United States.

MATT PALUMBO (University of Florida):

When there was an important meeting among tribes they would drink large quantities of the tea, probably because it helped them to concentrate and focus, much like caffeine is used by the rest of the world today.


Palumbo says the tea is refreshing, healthy and has eye-opening levels of caffeine. If you’ve got a science question, call us at 1-800-WHY-ISIT, or email us from I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.