In the fall of 2010, Lou Thomann, an ex-rice trader, historic building renovator from Savannah, GA, took a weekend trip to nearby Ossabaw Island. There he was introduced to the Yaupon Holly Tree by UGA naturalist John “Crawfish” Crawford, who explained that for thousands of years, the native inhabitants of the island had harvested the leaves of the Yaupon to make a tea that they called the “Black Drink.”
Yaupon leaves were picked and roasted that day and Lou and his group enjoyed the tea after dinner by the fire. The brew’s clean, full-bodied taste and fascinating history intrigued Lou, and when he returned to city life, he tirelessly researched information on the “Black Drink.” His findings unveiled the amazing, untold American history of Yaupon Tea and the astounding health attributes of this plant. After months of picking excursions in the woods, late night brewing sessions, and countless hours of studying scientific reports and historical accounts, Lou began hand-packing tea bags in his kitchen for friends to try. The results were encouraging. He soon earned a reputation and people all over town were asking him for more of his intriguing “local tea.”
After three years of traveling to trade shows, meeting with university professors, and scouting out the best locations to sustainably harvest this plant, Lou began bottling his handcrafted tea, launching Asi Tea Co. and officially branding a tea company that embraces this amazing plant as a true national treasure. Since then, the Asi Tea Company has maintained its goal to encourage Americans to reconnect with the ancient wisdom surrounding the Yaupon Holly and to taste and experience all of the healthful benefits of this native tea.