Brewing Strong Yaupon July 07, 2016 09:54

Yaupon is great when made as hot or iced tea (1 tsp steeped for 5 minutes) but the traditional way of preparing yaupon was to make a decoction, that is to boil or simmer it for some time.  This really brings out more flavor and the stimulating effects of the caffeine and theobromine (the feel good relative of caffeine found in cacao).  Among the Native Americans the ceremonial version of this was called Black Drink.  No account of an exact recipe exists for Black Drink, as it's been lost to time and varied from tribe to tribe, but it's thought that different herbs were added to the brew.  Black Drink was imbibed before important events where energy or focus was needed, such as business negotiations or going into battle.

What we do know is Native Americans bruised the yaupon leaves after picking them and roasted them until they were dark, so we like to use our Dark Roast yaupon for our take on take on this stimulating beverage. To prepare it, we use about 1 tablespoon of Dark Roast yaupon per cup of water.  We bring the water to a boil and then stir in the yaupon leaves.  Once the leaves are added, the mixture will start to froth up and can easily boil over.  Stirring will help to keep it from boiling over, but you'll need to turn the temperature down to a gentle simmer.  We usually let it simmer for 5 minutes.  The longer you simmer, the stronger the flavor and stimulating effects become.  When the temperature is turned off completely the leaves will all sink to the bottom and the brew can be decanted (poured off gently without disturbing the sediment) or poured through a strainer.  You can make almost the same strength drink in a French Press, though you might need to let it steep longer since the leaves aren't being agitated by simmering water.

This recipe yields an almost black, robust, yet smooth tasting brew that we have as our morning eye opener.  While great on its own, it's also tasty with a bit of milk and/or your favorite sweetener.  The energy it provides is jitter free, long lasting and without the coffee crash.