Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Tea Review: Yaupon Tea (Cat Spring)

Yaupon is a hardy evergreen plant native to North America and most prolific in the Southeastern United States.  It holds the distinction of being the only native plant in North America to contain caffeine and was a favored tisane among Native Americans for hundreds of years.  Yaupon later became a popular beverage among early settlers and was even exported to England and Europe in the early 1700s.  As tea imports became more frequent and more affordable, the native tisane fell out of use and faded into obscurity by the late-1800s.

For the trivia fans:  Yaupon, which is not an emetic, received its misleading Latin name, Ilex vomitoria, from Europeans misunderstanding its purpose in Native American ceremonies.  

CatSpring Tea is a family business based in Texas where yaupon flourishes.  Launching in 2013, their business focuses on organic and sustainable harvest and production methods.

Following are my tasting notes for the three varieties of yaupon currently offered by CatSpring. 

Green Yaupon Tea
Dry Leaf Aroma:  moss, green vine and herbs
Liquor Color:  mustard yellow and green
Liquor Aroma:  sweet corn, kelp and maple leaves
Liquor Taste:  herbaceous, woody, and sweet with a long, dry, sweet, minty finish 

Medium Roast Black Yaupon Tea
Dry Leaf Aroma:  smoky wood and caramelized fruit
Liquor Color:  orange and green
Liquor Aroma:  heavy smoke, tobacco and a hint of honey
Liquor Taste:  smoky, mellow and woody with a short, sweet, smoky finish

Dark Roast Black Yaupon Tea
Dry Leaf Aroma:  granola, smoke, fire-seared wood and honey
Liquor Color:  red
Liquor Aroma:  smoke and seared wood with a hint of sweetness
Liquor Taste:  smoke, fire-roasted vegetables and smoked foods with a sweet and smoky finish

Cat Spring recommends an individual serving size of 1.5 spoonfuls with a steeping time of 2-7 minutes.  I found that 3 grams steeped at 4 minutes produced the best results for my tastes with the exception of the first infusion of the bold medium roast which became much more approachable at a shorter steeping time of 2 minutes. 

The first infusion of the green yaupon has a notably long, refreshing, almost minty finish and the dark roast reminded me of rich smoked foods.

This tea was provided as a free sample without guarantee of a review.

1 comment:

  1. I still need to try their stuff. At least, one that isn't barrel-aged.