How to Steep Yaupon
Did you know you can steep yaupon multiple times?
What does that mean?
Steeping was integral to the discovery of tea. Tea is believed to have originated when the Chinese emperor Shen Nung noticed some leaves had fallen in a pot of boiling water. When he tasted the brew, he found it was a delicious, aromatic drink. We continue this tradition of allowing tea leaves to soak in hot water, steeping, through today.
When making yaupon, it's possible to reuse yaupon leaves to brew more than one cup. You can reuse the leaves on the same day or even save used leaves in the fridge to use the next day. Each time you reuse the leaves, you're resteeping your yaupon!
How is this different from other teas and herbal infusions?
Yaupon lacks a compound called tannins. These are biomolecules created by many foods and beverages including wines, chocolate, fruits, coffee, and even teas. They typically produce a more astringent or bitter flavor that can make your mouth feel dry. You might notice tannins more if you let a tea oversteep and become bitter or if you steep leaves you've already used before. You lose the chance to enjoy the flavor of the tea because the brew is filled with tannins. Yaupon doesn't have these tannins. So you can keep steeping yaupon leaves and receive only the rich, smooth flavor.
What does re-steeping look like?
For your first steep, you'll use fresh yaupon. Take a fresh scoop of our loose leaf yaupon or open a new yaupon pouch and add to your cup, mug, bottle, or your other container of choice. Add hot water. We recommend just off boiling water for optimal flavor. Let the leaves sit in the water for 4-6 minutes. If you're making yaupon with loose leaf, strain the leaves out before drinking. If you're making yaupon with a yaupon pouch, you can leave the pouch in if you like. Leaving the pouch in will continue to increase the yaupon flavor without adding bitterness. But if you find you prefer the yaupon flavor as is at 4-6 minutes, remove the pouch until the next cup.
That's it! That is your first steep of yaupon!
For your second steep of yaupon, you'll need more time. The thick yaupon leaves hold lots of flavor, so your second cup will be just as delicious. The leaves just need a little more time to release the flavor than when they were first added to water.
For the second steep, reuse the leaves or pouch you used for the first steep. If you strained out the leaves, add them back to the cup. If you removed the yaupon pouch, place it back in your cup. If you left the yaupon pouch in the cup, you're ready to go! Add more hot water and allow the leaves to steep for 5-8 minutes. Now you're all ready to enjoy your second energizing cup of yaupon!
For your third steep of yaupon, you'll use the same leaves as from the previous two steeps. They still have plenty of flavor left in them that time will help pull out into your water. Add your loose leaf or Yaupon pouch to your cup and add hot water. For your third steep, you'll let the leaves sit in the water for 7-10 minutes. This way, that wonderful yaupon flavor you've come to love will infuse the water. Plus, you'll continue getting the great benefits of yaupon such as caffeine for a gentle boost, antioxidants to strengthen your immune system, and theobromine to improve your mood.
The best part? You don't have to stop at three steeps. You can continue to steep your yaupon all day long. Each subsequent steep will take longer to allow the yaupon flavor in the leaves to properly mix with the water. We sometimes keep a mug next to us with a yaupon pouch inside and keep adding hot water all day. For these later steeps, watch for the vibrant green hue to turn an earthy brown to know your yaupon is ready to enjoy.
As you continue to steep (and resteep) your yaupon, you'll find your own perfect steeping time for your favorite cup(s)!