Black Drink

black drink

Black drink was the name given by colonists to a ritual beverage called Asi, brewed by Native Americans in the Southeastern United States. It was prepared from the roasted leaves and stems of the Yaupon Holly, native to the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. The active ingredient in the drink was caffeine. The beverage was often used as a substitute for coffee and tea by colonists under the name cassine or cassina.

Prior to the 19th century, the black drink was consumed during the daily deliberations of the village councils and at all other important council meetings. Caddo, Creeks, Cherokees, Choctaws, and others believed it purified the drinker and purged him of anger and falsehoods. Black drink was prepared by special village officials and served in large communal cups, frequently made of whelk shell. The men in council were served in order of precedence, starting with important visitors. They consumed large quantities at a sitting. Afterward, they purged themselves by vomiting.

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