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December 21, 2023
When Tara Chapman left a decade-long career at the CIA to start a beekeeping business in Austin, Texas, her new passion meant she was not only obsessed with honey bees, but also other native bees and the flora on which they thrive.
As she studied native plants and their culinary and medicinal value, she learned about yaupon, a thicket-forming holly bush that grows in the southeastern United States. North America's only known native caffeinated plant, Indigenous Americans have enjoyed its earthy, naturally sweet flavor and medicinal benefits for thousands of years.
“The fact that yaupon is the only native caffeinated plant in North America was eye-opening,” Chappan says. “I didn’t realize that the conventional tea consumed in the U.S. comes from thousands of miles away and relies on heavy irrigation and pesticides.”
Soon, she had a new obsession—and a new business. Good +Ready Provisions, a line of Cold Brew Yaupon Tea Concentrate, brings the convenience available to coffee drinkers to tea lovers.
We caught up with Chapman to talk about the business, which was a NEXTY Award finalist for Best New Beverage at Natural Products Expo East.
Tara Chapman, founder of Good+Ready Provisions, pours water into some of her brand's concentrated yaupon tea.
Since launching Two Hives Honey, I’ve learned a lot and gained more industry knowledge. I have also learned what my strengths and weaknesses are, and which aspects of the business I most enjoy working in. For example, focus is critical; overexerting yourself in too many areas hinders scaling. That’s why, at the moment, we are hyper-focused on retail, not (direct to consumers).
Two Hives also taught me the importance of branding and how much you can learn by talking directly with customers. So even though the goal of Good+Ready is to scale, we do a lot of local markets and demos in this build stage to get as much customer feedback as possible and to perfect how we best share the product with consumers.
We found a sort of unicorn with our co-packer. They are, first and foremost, food scientists who develop flavors and products. They also are one of the few companies with experience developing yaupon beverages. When I first came to them, I knew the flavors I wanted in the line, and they helped me flesh out the profiles and work to develop the three SKUs you see today: Original Unsweet, Half & Half Lemonade, and Ginger & Juniper.
In other parts of the United States, foraging is often done on public lands, which has some inherent risks and even ethical concerns depending on the level of foraging. But here in Texas, we have very few public lands; most all of our land is privately owned. While that is unfortunate for other reasons, it does mean foraging can function under a more controlled environment.
Catspring Yaupon is our yaupon supplier, and the yaupon they provide is partly foraged/partly farmed on private lands, which allows them to mitigate the risks associated with unknown land and resources. Because the foraging is done on privately owned land, Catspring has obtained certifications such as organic, kosher and regenerative organic. Editor’s note: Catspring Yaupon Tea is certified by the Regenerative Organic Alliance.
Entrepreneurship is an emotional roller coaster. Try to stay on as even a keel as possible. Don’t ride the lows too long and take the time to celebrate the highs—but then get back to the hustle. CPG is one of the most challenging industries, so it’s essential to find community. Finding people in the thick of it with you helps you to feel less alone, particularly if you don’t have a business partner.
Yaupon is the only caffeinated plant native to North America, and it is grown without pesticides or irrigation. It truly is the only sustainable caffeinated tea option in the United States. It is lower in caffeine—about one-third of what you would find in coffee—but the naturally occurring theobromine provides a focused boost with a less jittery jolt than other caffeine sources.
Our product is different from outer yaupon beverages because it is a concentrate. Two tablespoons makes a glass; a bottle makes a half gallon, in seconds. We believe strongly in the concentrate format and are in talks to make this widely available at several organic and natural food stores across the Southeast. But we also understand that the RTD format is important for customers on the go, and we need a yaupon RTD to make yaupon accessible to a larger group of consumers. We are working on a RTD and expect to release that in 2024!
Read more about:Sustainability
Davina van Buren is a North Carolina-based food writer and farmer. In addition to writing for numerous food brands, restaurant and agricultural tech companies and industry trade journals, she also grows heirloom vegetables and microgreens for local chefs.
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