The one thing most people will miss the most in a total societal breakdown is coffee. More specifically… the caffeine inside it.
We can live without malls, Tex-Mex restaurants and half-and-half… but coffee? That would be hard.
Yet it’s already getting brutally expensive. Before I quit the caffeine habit, I stockpiled extra, just in case, since you just can’t grow the stuff here without a greenhouse. So, in the sad chance we may lose it for a while, there has to be an alternative source of caffeine for those of us with, shall we say, MASSIVE ADDICTION ISSUES.
Enter Yaupon Holly Tea: North America’s Very Own Native Caffeine Source!(TM)
Naturalists gave this plant the unfortunate Latin name Ilex Vomitoria because, as the story goes, the Indians (Native Americans? Savages? Arboreal Peoples? Indigenous Tribespersons? Those Of The Awesome Headdresses?) would make and drink huge quantities of Yaupon holly tea, have visions, ecstatic frenzies, act crazy… and vomit their guts out.
Sounds like either a Hippie Vision Quest or a Frat initiation.
Anyhow, yaupon holly tea is delicious. It can not replace coffee, sadly, since nothing can do that… but it is a good way to get your morning (afternoon, evening, midnight) buzz. I prepare it the easy way like this:
Clip some nice young leaves and stems.
Strain into a teacup, add a little sugar or honey, and serve!
Technically, you’re supposed to dry or roast the leaves, hence its
original name “The Black Drink,” rather than the “Scary Dark Green
Drink,” but… green yaupon holly tea tastes great too.
When I have a little more time, I pick the leaves and toast them on a pan. That gives the tea a nice, smoky Yerba Mate flavor that is quite good.
Quick note: don’t chew the raw leaves – they’ll irritate your mouth. If you need caffeine THAT bad, you need to seriously consider rehab.
Toasting the leaves on a cast iron pan
Now, for a long time, I looked around for a Yaupon tree to add to my landscaping. After fruit trees, nuts, berries and tobacco, having a caffeine source was pretty important. Turns out, Ilex Vomitoria is rather popular in Florida as an ornamental. You can find them in many nurseries around Florida.
You can also buy my book The Survival Gardener’s Guide to growing Your Own Caffeine: Coffee, Tea, and the Black Drink, where I go more into depth on growing yaupon holly.
It doesn’t matter if you get the standard, the dwarf or the weeping version… they’re all good sources for THE BLACK DRINK!
SPUDMETER SURVIVAL RATING:
Name: Yaupon Holly
Latin Name: Ilex Vomitoria
Type: Small tree
Nitrogen Fixer: No
Cold-hardy: Yes, and evergreen
Exposure: Sun, shade
Part Used: Leaves, small stems
Ease of growing: Very easy