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That's The Tea: Why You Should Try Rise Yaupon's Teas

Image depicts Rise Yaupon's Strawberry Zen Tea. The company describes this product as, "Discover pure serenity in a cup with our Strawberry Zen Tea. Our artfully crafted blend of Yaupon Holly, real strawberries, refreshing lemongrass, and all-natural flavors creates a tasteful symphony of tranquility. Let every sip transport you to a peaceful oasis of taste. Try Strawberry Zen Tea today and find your moment of bliss!"

(Image courtesy of Rise Yaupon.)

Since 1773, tea has been the unofficial beverage of the United States. Its consumption created jobs, and dumpage caused riots. In today's world, people drink tea for its medicinal and culinary properties. When you go to a national coffee shop or your local barista, you see teas from around the world. Yet, you might wonder: Is there an indigenous American tea, and if so, what company produces it?

Image depicts a clear glass tea kettle pouring tea into a a clear glass cup.

(Image courtesy of Media from Wix.)

Rise Yaupon pays homage to Yaupon (the only caffeinated plant native to the U.S.) by producing high-quality products while bolstering the community. I spoke with Shelly Steele, President and Co-Founder, to learn more about the company.

Image courtesy of Shelly Steele. The image is from Northwestern Mutual article about Yaupon Brothers American Tea Company aka Rise Yaupon.

(Image courtesy of Shelly Steele.)

1. What makes Rise Yaupon different from other tea companies?

Rise Yaupon makes tea from the only caffeinated plant endemic to the United States: Yaupon Holly. Yaupon is an antioxidant superfood and natural anti-inflammatory. It also lacks tannin, the molecule found in other teas that causes bitterness, upset stomach, and teeth discoloration. As a result, our teas have a smooth, light taste with amazing health benefits and a low carbon footprint, all while supporting our local economy. 

Image depicts a female Yaupon Holly. The image was found Mississippi State University Extension written and photographed  by Dr. Gary R. Bachman.

(Image courtesy of MSU Extension/Gary Bachman.)

Rise Yaupon is a purpose-led brand that uses tea to uplift our community. We are a family-owned, women-led tea company, and our commitment to sustainability is apparent in every aspect of our production. As a native plant, Yaupon Holly requires no herbicides, pesticides, or additional water, which allows farmers to conserve Florida’s precious aquifer. Our approach to harvesting is equally responsible. We employ second-chance employees and ensure a minimal carbon footprint, as the tea is made in the USA. 

This image is in the public domain. This image depicts Ilex vomitoria Aiton of the family Aquifoliaceae.

(Image is in the public domain.)

We’re a local, vertically integrated tea company. We grow Yaupon trees, harvest, sanitize, dry, grind, blend, package, and distribute the products—all in-house. 

Image depicts Rise Yaupon's Healthy Kick Tea. The company describes this blend as Crafted with the finest blend of Yaupon Holly, fragrant rose petals, vitamin-packed rose hips, robust hibiscus flowers, zesty ginger, and warming cinnamon, this tea is your passport to wellness. Each sip boosts natural energy while its antioxidant-rich ingredients work together to support a healthier, more vibrant you."

(Image courtesy of Rise Yaupon.)

2. How does Rise Yaupon honor the past and embrace innovation?

Yaupon tea consumption dates back to over 8,000 years ago, making it 3,000 years older than traditional Chinese teas.  Yaupon was at the center of Native American civilization, playing an integral part in commerce, religion, medicine, and social structure. As tribes in the southeastern United States were decimated by disease, warfare, and relocation, Yaupon fell into the dustbin of history. Our co-founders were a part of the revival of Yaupon tea in the 2010s.  

Image courtesy of  UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA LIBRARIES SPECIAL COLLECTIONS/ PUBLIC DOMAIN. Image depicts At a council, the chief sits at the place of honor surrounded by his advisors. Cassina is prepared by women in the foreground.Created by Le Moyne de Morgues, Jacques,d. 1588.

(Image courtesy of the University of South Florida Libraries Special Collection/ Public Domain.)

Rise Yaupon embraces the historical legacy of this sacred plant and is developing modern growing techniques and new, innovative production processes to bring Yaupon to today’s consumers at scale. With only a handful of Yaupon producers in the US, Rise Yaupon is at the forefront of this emerging American industry.  

Image depicts a rare yellow Yaupon Holly. The image was from the Mississippi State University Extension Program. According to the website, " In the Stone County, Mississippi, area, the genetics exist in the wild for rare, yellow-berried yaupon plants. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)"

(Image courtesy of MSU Extension/Gary Bachman.)

3. How does Rise Yaupon incorporate its mission and vision into its products?

We make great tea! Our Yaupon blends promote health and wellness without the bitter after-taste that plagues other teas. But WHAT we do isn’t enough. It’s HOW we do it that truly differentiates us from our competitors. We believe that tea can be used as the catalyst for good and ultimately view Rise as a vehicle to uplift people in our community by:

  • Engaging with local farmers, offering a sustainable, native, evergreen crop that yields year-round economic opportunity. 

  • Hiring second-chance employees who earn a living wage.

  • Donating $1 from EVERY pouch of tea sold to support local organizations that feed homeless kids in our school system and support survivors of domestic abuse, with plans to expand our charitable contributions as Rise continues to grow. 

Image depicts 4 of Rise Yaupon's teas.

(Image courtesy of Rise Yaupon.)

4. What is the future of the company?

We are committed to making high-quality, great-tasting tea. In the next few weeks, we’ll be moving into an expanded production facility, which will have a small retail shop and tours and enable our business to scale. 

As our business grows, we will be able to support more charitable organizations and expand our team with additional second-chance and neuro-divergent employees.

Image courtesy of Rise Yaupon. Image depicts the  custom-tea factory located in Edgewater, FL.The address is 504 Pullman Road, Edgewater, FL 32132.

(Image courtesy of Rise Yaupon.)


Me on my first day of graduate school

Rachel Huss

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