When most people think of Holly, they think of Christmas decorations or urban landscaping. What they don’t know is that most Holly is edible, and their leaves make a strong, healthy tea!
Most sources recommend using the Yaupon Holly plant for your tea use, but other versions that can be used include the American Holly (what you use for decoration) and the Gallberry. As usual, be sure to make a positive identification before you try any backyard plant.
Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria) is a fascinating plant whose leaves contain the highest amount of caffeine of any plant in North America. According to Eat the Weeds, Yaupon Holly has been used in Native American ceremonies for years.
“Native Indians used to make an every-day caffeinated drink from its young leaves and twig tips. However, for solemn ceremonies, they would boil up an intentionally strong brew only for the men to drink. The fellow who could hold the concoction down the longest was entrusted with important missions.”
Yaupon Holly is mainly used as a coffee substitute, but Yaupon leaves also contain a ton of antioxidants. This makes Holly tea a great (and healthy) addition to any morning routine!
Holly leaves and stems can be used fresh, or they can be dried and roasted. Roasting the leaves and stems will enhance the caffeine, but use them fresh if you want a milder brew. For more information about the Yaupon Holly, and some ideas on how to prepare it, visit Walter Reeves or Wild Edible. The photos were taken from Eat the Weeds and Survival Punk, which is another great source for holly information.
Have you ever had a drink made from holly leaves? Let me know in the comments below!