I had a bunch of ladies over from our community stitching group and offered them a taste of our homemade wine and foraged tea. The wine was hit and miss, most of the ladies being teetotalers. The tea though was a big hit. Much to my surprise, while most of them were country-raised, none of them had ever heard of making tea from two of the most common sources imaginable: pine needles and yaupon.
The Amazing All-Purpose Pine Needle Tea – Dave’s Garden
“A sure cure for scurvy; a remedy for cold, flu, obesity, dementia, bladder, and kidney issues; antidepressant; anti-hypertensive; anti-tumor; render chemotherapy less toxic to patients, and many more potential health improvements and nutritional benefits, can all be found in the Christmas tree you dispose of yearly!”
“The most interesting health benefits of pine include its ability to boost the immune system, improve vision health, stimulate, protect against pathogens, and improve health.”
The yaupon surprised them even more than the pine, because around here it’s so prolific they are treated like annoying weeds much of the time. (Maybe that’s because they don’t realize how much the bees love them in their early spring bloom period.).
In some areas you’ll need to be sure not to confuse yaupon with Japanese privet, which is a popular landscaping shrub, but poisonous.
“Yaupon tea is a tea made from the dried leaves of the yaupon holly tree, which is scientifically known as Ilex vomitoria. This type of holly tree is native to the southeastern region of North America and was once used as an emetic and a ceremonial tea for numerous Native American tribes. The tea is also closely related to yerba mate tea and has many of the same active ingredients and nutrients.”
I also make tea with sassafras, mullein, rose hips, elderberries, sumac, and lots of other foraged goodies. Healthy and delicious, especially after you add the local honey, of course.
Foraging Texas has a great list with lots of common plants not just in Texas.