Why settle for carbon neutral?

yaupon holly farm

By Mark Steele

At the core of our business, we are an economic development firm cleverly disguised as a cute little tea company, and giving back to our community is at the heart of everything we do. As environmentalists, we are delighted to see that companies of all types are making an effort to offset their carbon footprints and do their part to combat the threat of global warming. I am particularly proud to say that Delta Airlines has committed to a carbon neutral future (I flew for Delta for 29 years) and that coffee and tea businesses (my new industry) are getting into the act as well.  

Most of these efforts involve saving energy wherever possible, and switching to biodegradable products used for serving and packaging. In industries where fossil fuels must be burned (nearly 100% of American caffeine is imported), re-forestation is used to offset transportation related carbon emissions. These programs take place in many corners of the globe, often in rainforests of South America, Africa and Asia. While we support these programs, our carbon reduction strategy looks a bit different...

Rise Yaupon was founded in the middle of an agricultural disaster here in Florida; a disease called citrus greening. The Florida citrus industry is 80% gone. Tens of thousands of Floridians have lost their jobs to this incurable disease. Thousands more jobs are on the chopping block. Our goal is to replace citrus with America’s only naturally caffeinated plant species; the Yaupon Holly. We want to help in the fight against global warming and at the same time, provide jobs for American farmers and factory workers. Here is how we plan to get the job done...


Produce caffeinated products right here at home.

In terms of carbon footprint, America’s caffeinated beverage industry damages the environment. Virtually all coffee (3.1 billion pounds per year) and tea (250,000 tons) must be shipped from thousands of miles away. Why not get your buzz from Yaupon Holly tea and skip the diesel fuel burning?

Yaupon Holly's Natural range:


Make tea from a perfectly sustainable plant.

It’s not just about the carbon footprint; tea that’s sourced from overseas tends to be loaded with harmful chemicals. Yaupon, on the other hand, flourishes without pesticides or fertilizers. It has evolved naturally to be bug, freeze, salt and drought resistant. We take nothing from local aquifers, and we don’t add any harmful chemicals into the environment...unlike most industrial agricultural products. This is what “sustainable” means.

 Yaupon Holly is a carbon - negative crop.

Planting Yaupon in a farm setting is actually a tremendous carbon offset, removing greenhouse gas emissions from the environment.  

Have a robust farm program.

We have greenhouse facilities in East Palatka Florida that have started tree propagation, and we have broken ground on an experimental facility in New Smyrna Beach.

It is our privilege to have Florida’s “Woman of the Year in Agriculture” (Angela TenBroeck) leading our sustainable farming program. She is coordinating our planting, growing and harvesting efforts throughout the Southeast. Get to know her if you can; she is inspirational.

Partner with like-minded, concerned businesses.

We are so grateful that we have had support from those who love our story and wanted to be a part of our journey. Now that we are in our new factory, we are aggressively marketing into new stores. If you know of any great health food stores, cafes or other outlets for our tea please let us know.

I take great pride in the fact that our women-owned company has, at its core, a mission of helping our community that is reflected in everything we do. We are just getting started in our quest for carbon negativity (which is positive!) and at the same time, creating jobs for Americans.

If you are in the caffeinated beverage industry and would like to be a part of our journey, please contact Shelly (my daughter-in-charge) by email at Shelly@RiseYaupon.com. Or you can write me directly at Mark@RiseYaupon.com.

Happy (and healthy) steeping all!

Mark Steele



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