After first hitting retail shelves a few years ago, yaupon tea is starting to build momentum as a locally harvested alternative to traditional tea and coffee.
Yaupon, which is related to yerba mate, is North America’s only native caffeinated plant, and though people have been drinking yaupon tea for hundreds of years, only in the past few years has it become commercially available.
Last year, another company joined the fray. Lost Pines Yaupon Tea harvests its yaupon from the area around Bastrop affected by the 2011 wildfires. Thinning the yaupon helps the pine trees grow back and restores habitat for animals like the endangered Houston toad, the founders of the company say. Once they harvest the yaupon, they roast the leaves to two different levels: A dark roast that has a rich, nutty flavor that coffee drinkers will enjoy or a light roast that has a lighter, sweeter, tea like flavor. Both the dark and light roasts can be brewed for shorter or longer periods of time to bring out the complexities of the yaupon, and you can drink the tea either hot or cold.
You can buy the loose tea (about $15 for a 2 oz. bag) at the Herb Bar, Monarch Food Mart, Springdale Farm Market and a handful of local farmers markets, including the Sustainable Food Center Farmers’ Market at Sunset Valley. To order a freshly brewed cup of it, check out Redbud Roasters in San Marcos, Chaparral Coffee in Lockhart and Bouldin Creek Cafe in South Austin. For more information or to order online, go to lostpinesyaupontea.com.