Whole Foods Is Banking On A Rare Caffeinated Beverage In 2023

Whole Foods is the natural food mecca where virtue-seeking customers happily spend their whole paycheck on organic produce and trendy alternative foods to replace their vices. Cauliflower pizza crust, kale chips, probiotic-rich sauerkrauts and kefirs, monk fruit sweeteners, and more products elegantly line aisles with promises of a healthy lifestyle.

Since Amazon bought Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in 2017, the company has lived up to its promises to lower the store's prices, keep the brand's leading ingredient quality standards — doubling the list of banned ingredients in its products — and bet the farm on local, regional suppliers to preserve a sense of locality (via CNBC).

For these reasons, food and wellness retailers will fight tooth and nail to get the attention of Whole Foods buyers — called "foragers." But it's the brand's Trend Council that takes looks at the broader picture of groceries, with its finger firmly on the pulse of the next big ingredient in the wellness and health space. For the eighth year, Whole Foods has released its trend predictions for 2023 and it has its eye on a caffeinated plant.

Yaupon herbal tea packs many benefits

The 2020 Whole Foods trend forecast included zero-proof drinks that contain spirit-free botanicals, in 2021, superfood additives like ashwagandha and mushroom topped the list, and on the current year's list, innovative and sustainable ultraurban farming took the cake. In its 2023 predictions released this week, Whole Foods led with Yaupon Tea, Yerba Mate's closely-related cousin.

Yaupon is a medicinal, herbal tea that comes from a type of holly plant that's native to southeastern North America. The plant is traditionally used in purification rituals by Native Americans (per Healthline). The tea is a natural source of caffeine and has added health benefits: it's high in antioxidants, which can reduce inflammation, and a compound called theobromine that has been researched for its ability to support brain function. But what's significant about yaupon is that it's considered the only naturally-caffeinated plant native to the U.S., and it grows abundantly without fertilizer or harmful farming practices (via Sips by).

The yaupon products mentioned on Whole Foods' forecast include the Elderberry Sangria Yaupon Kombucha by Greenbelt Kombucha (available in southwest stores), Lavender Coconut Yaupon Tea by Yaupon Brothers (available in southeast stores), Basil Lemon Yaupon Tea Concentrate by Lost Pines and Yaupon Matcha Powder by Local Leaf (available in Austin, Texas). But no matter where you live, you can get a taste of Whole Foods' forecast with a 10-item "Trends Box" online.