When Europeans arrived in the New World, the Native Americans shared their knowledge of this wonderful plant, and yaupon's use among European settlers became widespread: "[T]here is no Spaniard or Indian who does not drink it every day in the morning and evening...it is more of a vice than chocolate in New Spain [...] any day that a Spaniard does not drink it, he feels that he is going to die," wrote Father Francisco Ximenez in a 1615 text quoting Francisco Hernández de Toledo, a court physician ordered by King Philip II of Spain to study medicinal plants of the New World.
Yaupon was exported to Europe under names such as Chocolate del Indio in Spain, South Sea Tea in England, and Apalachine in France, and its enjoyment lasted well into colonial times.
As to why the drinking of yaupon didn't continue into the modern day, nobody is quite certain. One theory points to a conspiracy over its scientific name (Ilex vomitoria) given by William Aiton, the royal botanist to King George III. Some believe that Aiton gave yaupon this name because he was in the secret employ of the world’s first multinational corporation, the East India Company, which wanted to preserve its stranglehold over the world’s tea trade. Though yaupon contains no emetic properties, it was used during Native American purification ceremonies.