Made in Central Florida: Rise Yaupon makes flavorful tea with health benefits

Yaupon, a holly bush, is North America’s only known caffeinated plant. In fact, it grows wild in Central Florida.

At a farm in New Smyrna Beach, on 5.5 acres of land, Shelly Steele has found a way to turn the plants' leaves into a flavorful tea with lots of health benefits.

"Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant superfood, it’s just a really great tasting tea that does amazing things for you, and that’s local," says Steele.

After the leaves are harvested, they go through quite a process. The leaves are cleaned off, separated from other plants, then grounded.

"Farmers need to be growing yaupon instead of us importing 250 thousand tons of tea overseas every year," says Shelly’s dad, Mark Steele.

Mark used to run a Yaupon company as well about nine years ago and came back to help Shelly but with a much different approach.


"Our main goal is to feed homeless kids in Volusia County, so we’re generating cash to do that. I asked Shelly if she wanted to make 10 million a year or did she want to help the community, and she said, We’re helping the community!'"

A company offering healthy caffeine alternatives while boosting spirits also.

"I can’t get here fast enough. Well, I do speed a little," says Donna Rooney, who drives an hour to and from Rise Yaupon every day. 

Rooney works at Rise Yaupon and says she didn’t take the job for the money but because of the quality of the product and what the company stands for.

"I can drink this caffeine all day and all night and be able to sleep and not get jittery. I just feel great, I really do."

An energizing tea from the leaves of a native tea grown and made right here in Central Florida.