Yaupon tea is an herbal tea known for its medicinal properties.

It boasts a unique flavor and rich nutrient profile, packing plenty of antioxidants and beneficial compounds into each serving.

Plus, it may also offer several benefits and help promote brain function, decrease inflammation, and support healthy energy levels.

This article takes a closer look at yaupon tea, including what it is, how it’s made, and how it can affect your health.

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Yaupon tea is an herbal tea made from the leaves of the yaupon plant, a type of holly native to southeastern North America.

Traditionally, Native Americans brewed it into medicinal tea and prepared it as a “black drink” that was consumed during purification rituals (1).

Yaupon tea is not only rich in antioxidants but also among the few plants native to the United States that contain caffeine (2).

With its mild, earthy flavor and unique health benefits, yaupon tea has become increasingly popular. It’s often enjoyed as a substitute for coffee or other types of tea.

It has also become a common ingredient in certain skin care products and is even featured in many moisturizers, cleansers, and serums.


Yaupon tea is a type of herbal tea made from the leaves of the yaupon plant. Traditionally, it was used as a medicinal tea by Native Americans. Today, it’s enjoyed as a caffeinated beverage and featured in many skin care products.

Yaupon tea is a natural source of caffeine, which can comprise up to nearly 2% of the tea’s dry weight (2).

For reference, that’s about 76 mg of caffeine per teaspoon (4 grams), although the caffeine content can vary based on various factors, and most types of yaupon tea contain a lower amount.

It also contains theobromine, a compound that may improve focus and brain function (3, 4).

Plus, yaupon tea is rich in several polyphenols, which are natural compounds that act as antioxidants to reduce inflammation and prevent oxidative damage to your cells.

According to some test-tube studies, yaupon tea is especially high in the following polyphenols (2):

  • Chlorogenic acid. This compound plays a key role in metabolism and may help protect against heart disease, fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity (5).
  • Rutin. Found naturally in various fruits, rutin has been studied for its ability to reduce inflammation and support brain health (6).
  • Neochlorogenic acid. According to some test-tube studies, neochlorogenic acid could significantly decrease several markers of inflammation (7, 8).
  • Cryptochlorogenic acid. One test-tube and animal study found that this polyphenol can help protect insulin-producing cells in the pancreas to potentially help treat diabetes (9).

Yaupon tea is a natural source of caffeine, theobromine, and several polyphenols like chlorogenic acids, which may help reduce inflammation, improve brain health, and protect against conditions like diabetes.

Yaupon tea may be associated with several health benefits.

In addition to the tea’s impressive antioxidant content, it contains compounds like theobromine and caffeine, which may help promote brain function and increase your energy levels.

Rich in antioxidants

Yaupon tea is a great source of several powerful polyphenols, including rutin, neochlorogenic acid, chlorogenic acid, and cryptochlorogenic acid (2).

Research shows that antioxidants may reduce inflammation and play a key role in preventing chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes (10).

According to one older test-tube study, certain compounds extracted from yaupon leaves protected against free radicals and blocked the growth of colon cancer cells (11).

Several of the specific polyphenols found in yaupon tea have also been shown to help reduce cancer growth and decrease inflammation in test-tube and animal studies (12, 13, 14, 15, 16).

That said, more high quality research is needed to determine how the antioxidants in yaupon tea may affect human health.

Supports brain function

Yaupon tea contains theobromine, a compound found primarily in cocoa that has been well-studied for its ability to support brain function.

One animal study found administering theobromine to rats for 73 days led to significant improvements in working memory (17).

In another animal study, mice who were fed a diet supplemented with theobromine for 30 days showed improvements in motor learning, a process that involves acquiring a new skill through repeated practice (18).

What’s more, other research in animals suggests that theobromine may affect levels of a specific type of protein in the brain to potentially help prevent Alzheimer’s disease (19).

Further human studies need to be conducted to evaluate whether the theobromine found in yaupon tea could also affect human brain function when consumed in normal food amounts.

Increases energy and alertness

Yaupon tea is a natural source of caffeine, a stimulant often used to boost energy levels (20).

Caffeine is also sometimes used to enhance mood, increase alertness, and fight fatigue (21).

According to one older study in 27 people, consuming 50 mg of caffeine increased alertness and accuracy when completing a task after 60 and 90 minutes, respectively (22).

What’s more, when combined with 100 mg of theobromine, it improved performance while minimizing susceptibility to distractions (22).


Yaupon tea is a good source of antioxidants and other compounds like caffeine and theobromine, which can support brain function and increase energy and alertness.

Although yaupon tea can be a delicious addition to a healthy diet, some people may need to limit their intake.

This is because yaupon tea contains caffeine, which can cause adverse side effects in some people if consumed in high amounts.

In particular, caffeine may cause digestive issues, anxiety, irritability, changes in heart rate, increased urination, and insomnia (20).

In severe cases, it could also cause disorientation, heart problems, seizures, and psychosis (20).

It’s generally recommended to limit caffeine consumption to 400 mg per day, which translates to around 5–7 cups of yaupon tea, depending on its caffeine content (20).

Meanwhile, pregnant or breastfeeding women should limit their intake of caffeine even further to around 200 mg per day (20).

People with severe anxiety, peptic ulcer disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), heart disease, or impaired liver or kidney function may also need to exercise caution when consuming caffeine (20).

Remember that there are limited human studies on the effects of yaupon tea when consumed in normal amounts as part of a healthy diet.

In fact, most of the research on yaupon tea evaluates the effects of concentrated amounts used in test-tube or animal studies.

Furthermore, apart from caffeine, there’s very little research on the safety or potential side effects of other compounds found in yaupon tea.


Yaupon tea contains caffeine, which could cause several side effects when consumed in high amounts. Some people may also need to limit caffeine consumption, including those who are pregnant or breastfeeding and people with certain health conditions.

Yaupon tea is widely available at natural health stores and online retailers.

Both light or dark roast loose leaf varieties are available, which differ slightly in terms of taste.

In particular, dark roasts are generally more smoky and rich, while light roasts are nuttier and milder.

Some retailers also offer yaupon tea concentrates for a quick and convenient way to enjoy yaupon tea at home. These simply involve combining the concentrate with water.


Yaupon tea is available at many natural health stores and online retailers. Light and dark roast loose leaf varieties are available, as well as yaupon tea concentrates.

Yaupon tea is flavorful, nutritious, and easy to make at home.

If you’re making it from fresh yaupon, start by arranging the leaves in a single layer on a tray and roasting them in the oven for 15–20 minutes at 350°F (177°C).

You can also use loose leaf yaupon tea, which is usually already roasted for added convenience.

Next, add 1 teaspoon of toasted yaupon leaves to 1 cup (237 mL) of boiling water.

Steep the leaves for 5–10 minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea. Brewing tea for a longer amount of time results in a stronger, more concentrated flavor, while steeping for shorter periods gives the tea a subtler, milder taste.

Finally, strain the yaupon leaves from the tea and enjoy.

You can also experiment with other methods to make yaupon tea using tools like a coffee maker, French press, tea ball, or percolator.


Yaupon tea is easy to make at home by steeping roasted yaupon leaves in boiling water for 5–10 minutes and straining them.

Yaupon tea is an herbal tea made from the yaupon plant, which is native to North America.

It’s a good source of antioxidants, caffeine, and theobromine, and it may also be linked to several potential health benefits, including increased energy levels and improved brain function.

Furthermore, it’s widely available at many natural health stores and easy to make at home.