Yaupon Holly Leaves (Cassina)

ORAC Value:
μ mol TE/100g.

The antioxidant value of Yaupon Holly Leaves (Cassina) described in ORAC units is: 98,700 μ mol TE/100g.


It's not the bright red berries, but rather the leaves which have been used to make "black drink." That's what the white men called ritual beverages containing this leaf, which were brewed by the Cherokee, Choctaw, Yuchi, Caddo, Chickasaw, and Muscogee tribes.

These native Americans made yaupon tea out of the leaves and they probably got a jolt similar to what coffee could have provided (if it had been around). That's because holly is the only plant native to the United States and Canada that produces caffeine and the content in the dried leaves is about 70% that of coffee beans.

No big surprise, being that it's closely related to yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis), which grows in South America. Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria) can be found growing wild in the southeast United States.

The ORAC value reported is for the leaves before brewing them. "Black drink" would have had a lower concentration of antioxidants (and therefore lower ORAC) since the leaves are heavily diluted in water, as is the case with any tea. These measurements were the average of 24 wild plant samples. Those which were cultivated tested out as having antioxidant content nearly 40% lower.

ORAC Source

Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't: Ilex vomitoria Ait. Yaupon: a native North American source of a caffeinated and antioxidant-rich tea. Economic Botany, Volume 63, Issue 2. SpringerLink 2009