Our Story

An incredible moment of serendipity...

Yazoo Yaupon, founded in Clarksdale, Mississippi, by Oliver Luckett and his husband Scott Guinn when they came back to the Mississippi Delta after successful careers in California and Iceland. A moment of serendipity occurred at the home of Bill Luckett, Oliver's father, when a visiting ethnobotanist made a life changing discovery of native Yaupon growing in his back yard. Always entrepreneurial, Scott and Oliver have created Yazoo Yaupon with their dear friends Frosti Gnarr and Michelle Van Duzen. We aim to help rebuild our small, beloved town by inspiring a new generation of Mississippians by example and inclusion.

Why Mississippi, you may ask? Well, for thousands of years, the Mississippi Delta was home to numerous indigenous people who dried Yaupon leaves and brewed them into a spiritual and ceremonial beverage. By basing Yazoo Yaupon in Clarksdale, Mississippi - the heart and soul of the Mississippi Delta - we aim to make this Delta community a major hub for Yaupon farming and tea production. Along the way, we plan to create jobs and help elevate and revitalize the Mississippi Delta, which is considered the Cradle of American Culture. And we'll tell the story about the 100% American tea which has deep roots in the rich Delta soil.

Stay tuned as we work to transform Clarksdale into a place that celebrates the arts and the art of agriculture.

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About Us

Yazoo Yaupon uses sustainable agricultural practices and the latest in natural product research to bring back to life a delicious tea. Yaupon is an antioxidant-rich superfood filled with Caffeine, Theobromine, and Theophylline. It's also rich in Polyphenols, and lacks the bitter tannins found in imported teas.

We are committed to regenerative agriculture practices in the Mississippi Delta where the native Yaupon Holly grows and thrives in the sandy loams and fertile soil of the Mississippi Delta. And since Yaupon Holly doesn’t need all the pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides that many other crops need and can be harvested 2-3 times per year, it is a healthy and smart alternative crop for the small and independent farmers we work with through our farm program.

We believe Yaupon is simply a better tea. It’s native to the United States, it’s naturally caffeinated, and since it's not being imported from the far reaches of the globe, it’s got an extremely low carbon footprint.

Yaupon/Cahokia Cup

For thousands of years, indigenous people in the Southeast United States drank a caffeinated tea beverage made from Yaupon leaves for mental clarity, physical energy, and purification rituals. Researchers made this discovery in 2012 when Yaupon residue was found on pottery cups in the pre-Columbian Cahokia settlement near modern day St. Louis. This is why we call Yaupon ‘America’s First Cup’.

Yaupon – North America’s only caffeinated plant species – was also popular with colonists and early American settlers before it faded into obscurity after a purposeful campaign by tea importers to eliminate the competition.

(Cahokia Cups - Source: https://www.pnas.org/content/109/35/13944)

The good news? Yazoo Yaupon has brought back this delicious, healthy, and 100% American tea.

You’ll notice an icon of the Cahokia cup on our logo. It inspires us to always be respectful of Yaupon’s indigenous roots as we introduce this historic tea to consumers. We hope you enjoy it, and we hope Yaupon becomes your first cup, too!

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