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When Oglethorpe settled Savannah, he did so with permission and guidance from the chief of the Yamacraw tribe, Tomochichi (apparently, the two often drank yaupon tea together). This opened up the opportunity for Native people to trade with England. “One theory is that because it was gaining so much popularity, the East India Tea Company felt threatened,” Thomann explains of yaupon’s slip into obscurity. “It could be the 109 first case of corporate espionage.” British botanist William Aiton was asked to create a Linnaean classification for yaupon. He chose Ilex vomitoria—roughly translated, “makes you vomit.” It doesn’t, but the name served a purpose: Yaupon fell out of favor.


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