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The Forgotten Drink That Caffeinated North America for Centuries

Food March 31, 2022 News
The Forgotten Drink That Caffeinated North America for Centuries

Sipping on Cassina at the Department of Agriculture

From Atlas Obscura | Gastro Obscura by Ben Richmond

Yaupon tea, a botanical cousin to yerba maté, is now almost unknown.

Every morning, every day, 85 percent of Americans alter their state of consciousness with a potent psychoactive drug: caffeine. Their most common source is the roasted seeds of several species of African shrubs in the genus Coffea (coffee), while other Americans use the dried leaves of a species of Camellia plant from China (tea).

As tea made from a species of caffeinated holly, cassina may sound unusual. But it has a familiar botanical cousin in yerba maté, a caffeine-bearing holly species from South America whose traditional use, preparation, and flavor is similar. The primary difference between cassina and maté is that while maté weathered the storm of European conquest, cassina has fallen into obscurity.

Photo Courtesy Library of Congress

Read more at Atlas Obscura