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Things We Love The drinks, films and more we’re currently into by Wildflower Center Staff

BEVERAGE

Local Leaf Yaupon Matcha Editor Amy McCullough says she’s “always happy to see people doing new and interesting things to embrace native plants.” Humans have been making tea from yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria) for ages, but Austinites Eric Knight and Stacy Coplin — the creative and crafty foragers behind beverage company Local Leaf — have taken the practice further by making yaupon matcha. The couple traveled to Japan to steep themselves in the ways of traditional matcha making with the ultimate goal of fusing yaupon, the only native North American plant that contains caffeine, “with other tea traditions around the world,” says Knight. “One thing we were kind of blown away by was how similar the look and feel of a true tea leaf (Camellia sinensis) is compared to a yaupon leaf. For us, it’s really fun and satisfying to marry yaupon with a time-honored tradition to make something completely unique.”

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The result is an ultrafine yaupon powder that can be whisked into hot or cold water to create a soothing, earthy beverage — and it can also be used in baking, much like green tea matcha. In fact, Knight says many local vendors are already making “some really awesome stuff” from it, including yaupon flan (Bento Picnic), yaupon matcha cream puffs (Jester King Brewery), yaupon matcha chocolate chip ice cream (Lick Honest Ice Creams) and more. “We’re excited to combine the simplicity of Japanese matcha culture with our hardy native Texas yaupon,” says Knight, who occasionally leads foraging walks at the Wildflower Center. “It’s a true East-meets-West experience.” McCullough adds that this matcha is particularly green because it originates from where it’s consumed — a nice sustainability perk to go with your caffeine buzz.

Profile for Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Wildflower Magazine 2019 | Volume 36, No. 1  

Flower-dwelling predators, love letters to native plants, how to bring nature play home, discovering a rare morning-glory, remembering an in...

Wildflower Magazine 2019 | Volume 36, No. 1  

Flower-dwelling predators, love letters to native plants, how to bring nature play home, discovering a rare morning-glory, remembering an in...

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