Yaupon Holly

Yaupon Holly: Survival Caffeine

Yaupon Holly
Yaupon Holly

The yaupon holly, Ilex vomitoria, is something I have wanted to try for years. The yaupon holly is a species of holly tree native to the southeastern parts of the US. Why should you be interested in this holly tree? The berries are not edible. The leaves of the yappon holly have caffeine in them. Did I perk your interest? It is a caffeinated native to North America. You might be storing coffee in your preps. It will only last so long though.

I want sustainable caffeine. When I first found out about the Yaupon holly I knew I wanted some. Being an evergreen it does not drop it’s leaves. It grows in USDA zone 7. Though not native to TN I should have no trouble growing yaupon holly here. With permaculture you could push it further north. Let’s look into the the plant a little more and make some tea.


The yaupon holly can grow 15~ 20 feet tall. It has small dark green leaves oval to elliptical in shape The leaves occur alternately on the steam. In the spring time the yaupon holly will put on white flower. The female plants will grow the red berries that remain through the fall. Unlike many other hollies the leaves are scalloped not serrated. Not all varieties of the holly are safe to drink. Make sure you are using leaves from the Yaupon Holly. Check out Green Deane’s page here.

I’ve actually never seen a yaupon  holly. I had a reader email me recently about the Yaupon Holly. I was talking about coffee. He correctly brought up the unsustainability of coffee during a collapse. In America we can’t grow coffee trees. We can grow the Yaupon Holly though. Also the  leaves contain more caffeine by weight than both coffee beans and green tea. I asked Curtis, the reader, if he would be willing to mail me some leaves. He did so let’s make some tea.


Roasted Yaupon Holly leaves
Roasted Yaupon Holly leaves

Making Yaupon Holly Tea

I did some quick searching on how to make Yaupon holly tea. One place said to steep a few leaves in hot water for a few minutes. I hate the impreciseness of that. I went by my coffee rules. I heated up 2 cups of water in the microwave for 4 minutes. I added 4 tbsp of Yaupon Holly to steep for about 10 minutes. I let it sit while I cooked breakfast. I then strained into a coffee cup. This gave me a rich aroma and deep yellow color.


The smell hit me first. To me it smelled fruity. Like goji berries. Some weird mixture of sweet, fruity and savory. I drank some with nothing added. The yaupon holly tasted great by itself. Yaupon holly has a sweet flavor by itself. Not overpowering but balanced sweetness. For the sake of being thorough I added some stevia and heavy cream. It took the yaupon holly to the next level. It tasted similar to chicory root tea. Only with caffeine. It might not taste anything like coffee but it is tasty. Even though I’m from the south I’m not much of a tea drinker. This I could happily drink. Thanks again for sending me some Yaupon Holly!

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7 thoughts to “Yaupon Holly: Survival Caffeine”

  1. How much caffeine is in a cup of that stuff compared to a cup of coffee? I don’t drink coffee but do drink green tea. A short Google search said it tastes better than green tea.

    Caffeine has some good health benefits, so your report does interest me. I found out it can grow in TN but the best time to plant it is in the spring but can be planted anytime.

      1. This is actually incorrect. Yaupon has less caffeine than coffee or tea, .65-.85% by weight according to a University of Florida article I read. But, in addition to caffeine, it is high in theobromine, which is the stimulant/mood elevator found in chocolate!

  2. We would be happy to send a free sample of our tea for you to try. Much like the vidalia onion, Yaupon tastes varies by growing conditions. Used by Native Americans for over 2,000 years it is a wonderful stimating beverage. Visit our website or email us for information on the best ways to process.

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