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Holly (Ilex) Holly (Ilex)

How Do You Make Native American “Black Drink Tea”?

The Native American Black Drink, also known as Asi or Cassina, is a traditional beverage made from the leaves of the Black Drink Holly plant (Ilex nigrumpotum), formerly known as Yaupon.

Black Drink has been consumed by indigenous peoples in the southeastern United States for centuries. Here’s a general overview of how it is traditionally prepared:

1. Harvesting the leaves

Collect fresh young leaves from the Black Drink Holly plant. It’s important to ensure that you have correctly identified the plant, as some other holly species are toxic.

Black Drink Holly leaves contain caffiene.

2. Drying the leaves

Spread the leaves out in a thin layer and allow them to dry completely. This can be done by laying them out in the sun or using a food dehydrator. Properly dried leaves should be crispy and break easily when bent.

3. Roasting the leaves (optional)

Some traditional recipes involve roasting the dried yaupon leaves to enhance the flavor. This step is not always necessary, and you can skip it if you prefer a lighter taste.

4. Grinding the leaves

Once the leaves are dried, they need to be ground into a fine powder. Traditionally, a mortar and pestle were used for this purpose. However, you can also use a coffee grinder or a food processor to achieve a similar result.

5. Preparing the infusion

Take a small amount of the powdered yaupon leaves and place them in a container, such as a pot or a gourd. Add hot (but not boiling) water to the leaves and allow them to steep for a few minutes. The water should be heated to around 160-180°F (70-82°C), as boiling water can make the tea taste bitter.

6. Straining the liquid

After steeping, strain the tea to remove the solids. Traditionally, a straining cloth made from natural fibers was used, but you can use a fine-mesh sieve or a coffee filter instead.

7. Serving the Black Drink

The tea is traditionally consumed from a communal vessel, such as a gourd, and passed among participants in a ceremonial setting. It can be served hot or cold, depending on personal preference.

It’s worth noting that the Native American Black Drink has a high caffeine content, and it can have stimulating effects. As with any herbal preparation, it’s advisable to consult with a knowledgeable source or herbalist before consuming it, particularly if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking medications.

Please exercise caution and respect for indigenous cultural traditions if you decide to make and enjoy this beverage.

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