AC and Kyle chat with Abianne Falla of Catspring Yaupon.
Catspring Yaupon is supporting regenerative agriculture with its loose-leaf and bagged yaupon teas and also its new VIBE Yaupon crystals.
What is Yaupon??
It is the one and only naturally caffeinated plant that is native to North America.
In this episode, we learn all about Yaupon and Abianne’s work building both a brand and a completely new category at the same time.
🪴 Meet Yaupon - the only naturally-caffeinated plant native to North America
🌀 Yaupon’s historical journey from ubiquity to eradication to resurgence
💥 How they sustainably wild harvest the Yaupon
😡 The challenges of building a brand and creating a category at the same time
🤯 Comparing Catspring Yaupon’s supply chain to most imported tea
🙏 Why regenerative agriculture is indigenous agriculture
🏆 Recent PR wins for Yaupon as a category
💫 Their newest innovation: VIBE - Yaupon Crystals
😧 How Abianne has raised $1M of non-dilutive capital
❌ Why regenerative food should never be a luxury good
ReGen Brands Recap #19 - A Native Caffeine Resurgence - (RECAP LINK)
Disclaimer: This transcript was generated with AI and is not 100% accurate.
Kyle Krull - 0:00:16
Welcome to The ReGen Brands podcast. This is a place for consumers, operators and investors to learn about the consumer brand supporting regenerative agriculture and how they're changing the world. This is your host, Kyle, joined with my co-host, AC. Let's Dive in.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:00:31
On this episode we have Abianne Falla who is the Co-founder of Catspring Yaupon. Catspring Yaupon is supporting regenerative agriculture with its loose leaf and bagged Yaupon teas and also its new VIBE, Yaupon crystals. You might be saying, what is Yaupon? It is the one and only naturally caffeinated plant that is native to North America. In this episode, we learned all about Yaupon and Abianne's work building both a brand and a completely new. Consumer category at the same time. We loved having Abianne join us, and we're excited to share this episode with you all. Let's dive in. What's up everybody? Welcome back to another episode of The ReGen Brands Podcast. We are live here, not actually live. Kyle's gonna correct me, but we're live with Abianne from Catspring Yaupon. Super excited to dive into her Business Today, so welcome everyone.
Abianne Falla - 0:01:25
Thanks for having me.
Kyle Krull - 0:01:27
Yeah, we're super excited. You know, we connected, I think it was 3-4 months ago at this point, and I had never heard of Yaupon. I didn't know anything about it. And it was one of the coolest, most interesting stories, both from like a plant perspective and historical perspective. I'm not going to try to recap it because you're going to do a much better job than I.
Abianne Falla - 0:01:46
Am today but.
Kyle Krull - 0:01:47
We're really excited to have you on in detail teach all of us about this unique plant.
Abianne Falla - 0:01:54
Looking forward to.
Kyle Krull - 0:01:55
Sharing. Cool. Well, before we get too far into the origin story, tell us, you know, for those who are completely unfamiliar with the brand, you know what to do. You make you know how many products do you have, how many skews, flavors, things like that. And where can people purchase your product today?
Abianne Falla - 0:02:08
Sure. So we are 100% Yaupon. That is all we do. We like to say it's Texan for tea, but simply it's the only caffeinated plant native to North America. So we sell it under our own brands. Catspring Yaupon and tea bags and loose leaf and those are available online, Amazon, Whole Foods in the southwest Central Market, that sort of thing. And then we also a lot of our business is as bulkan ingredient sales. So we sell to kombucha Brewers like Greenbelt kombucha here in Texas, yes, folk up in New York in smaller Brewers all over the US and then we also sell to tea companies. So like Harney and Sons does a bottled Yaupon for sweet green. And then we also are a basis for some energy drinks like Rambler, sparkling water here in Texas and then we also sell the restaurants, hotels and spas. So I guess like local foods is actually going to put you up on their spring menu. So that's that's where you can find us.
Kyle Krull - 0:03:23
There was a lot more places than I had anticipated. That's a lot. You've got like a monopoly on Yaupon right now. Are you selling to everybody?
Abianne Falla - 0:03:33
We're the largest producers of it in the world, which? I mean, considering the size of the market in and of itself, take that same with a grain of salt. But yeah, we've been doing it for 10 years. And so we've been in kind of an interesting position of building both a brand and a product category. So we've kind of chosen to have some more fun collaborations and partnerships and supply to other people as we build the brand. So, yeah.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:04:00
Love that, love that not, not too, not too indifferent from some of the other folks we've we've interviewed about kind of building the brain in the category. The same time definitely take away there is that Texas take care takes care of its own. I mean all this Texas connections. So I always love that about about the great state of Texas you mentioned 10 years ago. I want you to take us back there and kind of give us the origin story. We also want to give you a shout out for coming on the show 9 months pregnant, expecting your second child. So we got to give you some love there and we appreciate.
Abianne Falla - 0:04:29
Anthony Corsaro - 0:04:30
Yep, and congratulations. But take us back ten years ago, I'm guessing, before both children and yeah, and where this thing all start from.
Abianne Falla - 0:04:40
Yeah. So it was actually, I don't know if I would remember, but 2011 was the driest year in Texas recorded history. I think now they're saying we lost three hundred 200,000,000 trees statewide. Million, yes, because I mean it takes a few years to really see how many are we going to die off.
Kyle Krull - 0:05:06
Everything's bigger in Texas, even the drought.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:05:08
Kyle Krull - 0:05:08
Abianne Falla - 0:05:10
Exactly right. And So what where we were in Cat Spring. Everything was looking like wilted spinach, everyone selling off their cattle. We're losing 100 year old oak trees and the only thing that wasn't dying was Yaupon. And we've always known the plant because it's it's it would be considered a weed if it wasn't native, right? It's a very tenacious grower. Leave an abandoned building and Yokohama grow through the walls. In a matter of years. It takes over.
Abianne Falla - 0:05:17
Ohh, your fence lines. Yeah, it really grows unchecked. And so we've always known the plant but had no idea that it was anything other than a nuisance until this drought and so started to do some research. You know, I wish I could say we had the foresight to be like, oh, something special with this plant. But really it was like in the same vein of like there has to be something you know about like why don't fire ants die? Why is this?
Abianne Falla - 0:05:47
Dying. And through that just started to see some research that was coming out of Texas A&M and the University of Florida that were you know, this is the only domestic source of caffeine that's native to North America, antioxidants comparable to blueberries. It's a natural anti-inflammatory. It has all these incredible benefits. It's a natural cleanser and then at the same time realizing that virtually every.
Abianne Falla - 0:06:17
Tribe along the Gulf Coast and up into the Outer Banks actually had a tradition with it. And so. Yeah. So the first recorded history like the first recorded observed Yaupon was actually in 1542 with cabin avaca when he came through Texas and.
Kyle Krull - 0:07:07
Abianne Falla - 0:07:08
Yeah, yeah. And so it's been, it was ubiquitous. It was consumed, it was traded. They're even finding ceremonial traces of it or sorry traces of it and ceremonial pottery all the way up to like Kokia and Saint Louis and over to Arizona and. Colorado and they're actually using the caffeine in these ceremonial pottery to recreate the trade routes of couple 100 years ago. And so Yaupon was the like the drink of North America and then with the Spanish they loved it. They actually when they came they into Florida and Texas, they took it back to Europe and then we all remember the Boston Tea Party. So the English had a different relationship. See. And didn't want anything to disrupt the power of that trade. And so your partner became a derogatory term, which meant you were too poor to afford imported tea and.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:08:07
Abianne Falla - 0:08:08
Yeah, like they actually like this is.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:08:10
Kyle Krull - 0:08:12
It's a brilliant scheme on the English, yeah. Ohh.
Abianne Falla - 0:08:15
Kyle Krull - 0:08:16
Super messed up, but.
Abianne Falla - 0:08:18
Yeah, and the and some historians think that the Scottish botanist who named it was actually employed by salon tea traders at the time, because the scientific name is ilex vomitoria, even though there's no emetic properties or anything. So yeah, it's kind of crazy. And then obviously with the forced relocation and mass eradication of a lot of the indigenous peoples. Or drinking it Yaupon really has been largely forgotten. There are pockets of slaves that grew it, and then during the civil War the South drank it. And then during World War Two, actually the USDA tried to promote it as a viable caffeine alternative, but other than that, it's really just been forgotten. So yeah.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:09:07
Kyle Krull - 0:09:08
It's so crazy somebody.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:09:10
Kyle Krull - 0:09:12
This is the second time I've heard it. It's still blowing my mind. Yeah, you know, the what strikes me is the most interesting, I don't know, like ironic part of this is like how much caffeine is consumed in North America. What percentage of that is imported. Whereas we, we've had this indigenous caffeinated plant, I mean, since the first settlers arrived here. And it's just completely like, not even on people's radar. Like if you were to guess today, how many people do you think, like even have Yaupon on the radar? Know what that is? So, so 5% of 1% of the population in North America?
Abianne Falla - 0:09:46
Ohh yeah, yeah. It's a tiny, tiny amount. I mean we're seeing more and more traction which is exciting. Yeah. Especially compared to when we first started out ten years ago and people only know it from like Oh yeah, I bulldoze and burnout. So yeah, so we've definitely that percentage is is moving, but it's still tiny. And I think what's super fascinating is the the caffeine. And the option is actually it's pretty mild. So it's like maybe 25 milligrams, but it is with like the theobromine and theacrine, it's a longer release. So some of our like advice or like food types to advisors think it's because it's a delayed release in our system. And so it's more of like mental clarity and more of a sustained. And so it's like that's actually what more people want than the spike of the imported or synthetic.
Abianne Falla - 0:10:12
Themes. And so it's it's something that's right here that is actually even better. You know, it's no wonder the Cherokees called it their beloved tree, right? And we're just now figuring that out.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:10:56
Yeah, I was gonna ask what? What does the plan actually look like? I looked on the website and you might have pictures but I didn't see them. But what? What does it look like when it's grown?
Abianne Falla - 0:11:04
Yeah, sure. So it is, if you're physically here, I would just point outside and show you because Texas uses it for their landscape as well, just because it is such a tenacious plant. But yeah, so it's almost like a shrub that left unattended can grow. It's an understory tree, so it can grow 2030 feet high and I'm just kind of. Really depends on where you are and how it. Like what? What? It's been given free rein on, you know, we where we harvest some of the the Yaupon is just you can't even walk through it. Like deer can't even walk through it. It's just so dense.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:11:47
Abianne Falla - 0:11:48
Kyle Krull - 0:11:49
So talk us through, we're gonna kind of go like we used to like a regular set of questions, but because this is such a unique plant like a lot of those questions are not going to apply here. So yeah, you know, when I think about regenerative agriculture and people, you know, putting seeds in the ground and having rows of crops and harvesting them like that seems to be like a relatively similar process across a variety of different, you know, plants, it doesn't seem to be the case here. So what is like the actual like? Quality and look like how do you harvest it, you walk us through that process?
Abianne Falla - 0:12:25
Yeah, sure. So we actually are sustainably wild harvesting it and which. You know, so we're foraging. Which obviously means something a little different in Texas than it does in most other parts of the US because it's all like we don't believe in public lands in Texas, so it's all privately owned. And so we work with land owners. And so we have about 1100 acres that are certified Wild growth, certified regenerative, organic, organic, non-GMO and kosher that really is just. Wild in?
Kyle Krull - 0:13:10
And just to clarify, when you say, wow, that's like you don't plant anything, you don't water anything. This is just growing and you're just harvesting?
Abianne Falla - 0:13:18
Kyle Krull - 0:13:20
Abianne Falla - 0:13:21
Yes, it's amazing. And yeah, and it's interesting too, because. What we think might be the most actual sustainable thing would be to, as we harvest, to be reintroducing native grasses as we go. And that's something that we're. Trying to work with the USDA National Conservation Resource services to do a pilot program for, but the reason that Yaupon grows so tenaciously is because of all of the native grasses that were replaced for hay and cattle. If we're looking at like a coastal grass, we're looking at like 3 to 12 inch root systems and the native grasses as we know have anywhere from 3 feet to 15 feet and so. Because Yaupon spreads as a rhizome, it just grows totally unchecked, which is why.
Kyle Krull - 0:14:16
Clarify what does that statement mean? Grows as Arizona.
Abianne Falla - 0:14:19
Wow. So when it's stressed or when it wants to grow, it just spreads its roots and then sends shoots up from that. And so often the trees that were harvesting are pretty tightly related. They're all coming from the same root systems. And So what Yaupon as an understory tree will do also is that it'll. Put its roots and rise arms through oak trees or through other protected places. So even if you're cutting it down, you can't it it'll just come right back. And in fact, when it gets stressed, it shoots its rise homes further and then we'll send up shoots to. For like what looked like little trees.
Kyle Krull - 0:15:02
Wow. So you could cut it down and then like come back a month later and there could be more of it than when you cut it down because of the way it spreads and grows.
Abianne Falla - 0:15:10
Yeah, that's what happens.
Kyle Krull - 0:15:13
Abianne Falla - 0:15:14
Anthony Corsaro - 0:15:15
So this 1100 acres, did that happen by accident? Are you paying someone to like keep it in a certain profile? Like you have all those certifications that you mentioned? Like what? How does that even know where to begin there?
Abianne Falla - 0:15:27
So we, I mean in some ways we're actually really doing these land owners a favor. We're helping them with something a little bit more of a sustainable alternative in how to manage some of this Yaupon growth, trying to keep the fence lines cleared, the trails access to promote you know eco diversity so that the deer and the animals can get through. But then also you know most of the research that's been done by like age. Extension agencies is more how to eradicate Yaupon than even like what its benefits are or how to grow it, you know? Yeah, yeah. So yeah, that's what most of the studies, that's what most of the money behind Yaupon has been, is like how to best spray and kill it.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:16:15
So animals eat it, eat it.
Abianne Falla - 0:16:19
They will. They don't love it because the caffeine. So caffeine is usually a natural defense. And so the deer and the cattle in, yeah, if there's nothing else, they'll eat it, but they prefer other things. And then the berries, birds will eat the berries and things like that, but yeah.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:16:39
They're smarter than us. We're trying to OD on caffeine and.
Abianne Falla - 0:16:41
Kyle Krull - 0:16:46
So as you're as you're explaining this, the way I'm now thinking about harvest is like your team shows up in trucks on people's private land and just start picking leaves off of these like shrub trees.
Abianne Falla - 0:17:01
Kyle Krull - 0:17:01
I don't know to oversimplify or like diminished what is actually happening. I'm trying to like put a.
Abianne Falla - 0:17:05
Kyle Krull - 0:17:05
Because like, yeah.
Abianne Falla - 0:17:06
Kyle Krull - 0:17:06
Not simple national agriculture.
Abianne Falla - 0:17:09
Yeah. And I think if you visualize like the same as like AT harvest, right, often people are out physically whether it's like the baskets on their back or you know however they're doing it mechanically that's it's, it's all about the leaves and so for us. The harvest looks a little different sometimes, depending on what works best for the land and access and all that sort of thing, just because we're not in a cultivated setting. But in essence that's what we're doing, just getting the leads.
Kyle Krull - 0:17:40
Anthony Corsaro - 0:17:41
Yeah, that's, that's wild. I mean, I think, I think.
Kyle Krull - 0:17:45
We're going wild.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:17:46
Yeah, literally it is.
Abianne Falla - 0:17:48
Anthony Corsaro - 0:17:49
We can, we can, we can talk more about kind of growing practices, supply chain and want to come back there in a second. But I also want to pick up the origin story of, OK, now we understand the history and a little bit about the plant. I can't even imagine trying to commercialize this thing, right, like you said creating a category while you're creating the brand, you're trying to do a lot of wholesale stuff to to kind of further commercialize. Where the hell did that start? And like, how? What's the ark been like to get, you know, to this point?
Abianne Falla - 0:18:14
Sure. So our first commercial harvest was in 2013. So first kind of started paying attention to it in 2011 and then just did some playing around with different. Preparation methods.
Kyle Krull - 0:18:29
Or do you remember the first cup you ever drank?
Abianne Falla - 0:18:32
Kyle Krull - 0:18:35
What was that experience like?
Abianne Falla - 0:18:37
Honestly, it was kind of like we haven't seen anywhere that it's poisonous. Even though, like actually, the USDA website did say it was poisonous, I've had to work with them to get that changed.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:18:53
But the good old USA?
Abianne Falla - 0:18:54
Yeah. Like no, I like small mentoria. There's no matter properties. But yes that was kind of our first experience and too like we were like we if this, if this history is true and it had this tradition like it must taste terrible, right. Like that's the only reason I could think of that nobody, I mean nobody had it commercially available and it hasn't been. Decades. And so we just were like, it must taste terrible. Let's let's try it. And yeah, but it actually it, it tasted alright and enough that we kept on like. Trying different tea and yerba Monte and just kind of different preparation methods to see what we could land on. Umm, yeah.
Abianne Falla - 0:19:31
Burn burn a lot of leaves.
Kyle Krull - 0:19:47
I believe that I also derailed Anthony's question, like I typically do.
Abianne Falla - 0:19:53
Kyle Krull - 0:19:54
So how did the commercialization process?
Anthony Corsaro - 0:19:56
Abianne Falla - 0:19:57
You know, so, so we really kind of started by just like hey, let's put a landing page and see if people are looking for it and potentially solicit some free feedback. And so we'd send off preparation methods that we were trying and I started to do some farmers markets here in Austin and and from that actually had a couple chefs come forward that were. You know aware of the fact that like if they wanted a farm to table restaurant there's a big hole when it comes to the coffee and tea portion of their menu and so some of our first customers were actually died way here in Austin and odd duck and we became their iced tea and still are to this day which is pretty crazy and.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:20:45
They love Texas, man.
Kyle Krull - 0:20:46
Texas is the.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:20:47
Best God, I love it.
Abianne Falla - 0:20:50
Yeah. And so and that was. So to get their feedback in their affirmation was huge, right? So it's like, OK, these gyms, beard nominated chefs think that our Yaupon is is worthy of putting on their menu, then let's then maybe we've got something here. And so yeah, just started small and then. Started approaching tea companies and trying to get feedback and yeah, been kind of chipping away at that for a decade now, which is crazy to think. I think if I had known how much of an uphill battle we had, I don't know that I would have started out and my mind I was like 2 years. Everyone in the world will know.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:21:32
Said every CPG founder ever. Yeah, I I'm, I'm super curious about that. Right, because like on the food service side, chefs are very creative, they're usually more open minded. They're, they're, you know, they're gonna trial things faster and and quicker than retail. So like when you're sitting there with Whole Foods or whoever, like how the hell do you explain them what this is and how do you like vouch that you should get shelf space next to the, you know, the green tea that's already like on the shelf?
Abianne Falla - 0:22:01
Yeah, I think with with Whole Foods it's been a very interesting and I'm I'm grateful. For the journey we've had with them because it's been I I know the experience we've had has been kind of the opposite of what most people have. So because some of our customers were on Whole Foods shelves to start, so like green belts and Bucha Rambler with their sparkling water. And then you know since we started there have been an addition of several other yield pun companies which is awesome. It's on industry if you're the only brand and so. I actually had to work with Whole Foods legal team a couple years back because of the FDA grass status of Yaupon. And so that was something that I had navigating with the FDA for a few years and so.
Abianne Falla - 0:22:35
Which was funny because they're like, ohh, we haven't added anything to the list since the 70s. Do you have any historical evidence? And I was like, ohh, just you wait. Like yeah.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:23:01
Let me get my citations out real quick. Emily format for you.
Abianne Falla - 0:23:05
Pretty much. Big 40s and then all the way up to the USDA Board of Chemistry, which was the precursor to the FDA. They're the ones that actually tried to promote it as an industry and we're selling it at state fairs. And so it's like here's your former predecessors who were selling it. And so yes, we finally got some documentation from them, but so it worked with Whole Foods and to kind of shore up the legal side of it and then I think you know. What they have done and and I really, you know, respect the way that they're trying to help suppliers clean up their sourcing and everything from coffee to tea. And I think they realized that tea in and of itself is a really hard industry to help clean up. And So what they wanted to do was to promote sustainable alternatives or sustainable ingredients within the T category and that's where we fell and.
Abianne Falla - 0:23:38
Fortunately, I live in Austin and had some relationships there and so they asked if if we would come on the shelf and then. They've named Yupana as the top food trend for 2023, which is really exciting.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:24:20
Yeah, let's go.
Kyle Krull - 0:24:22
Congrats, huge win.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:24:24
Grats on that, on that, on these wins after a decade long battle, those are important to celebrate.
Abianne Falla - 0:24:28
Right, they yeah, they feel nice, for sure. A little bit more of a groundswell than a pushing a boulder up a mountain, for sure.
Kyle Krull - 0:24:37
Right. You know, one of the things you mentioned to you a couple of times in that and how it is difficult to clean up, explain a little bit about why it's hard to clean up. And then like from a consumer perspective, if they were to choose Yaupon versus tea, like what sort of environmental impact each of those decisions make and why somebody would want to trade up to your pan?
Anthony Corsaro - 0:24:58
We have a hard sell, Abianne. And put the Texas humility aside and I want to hear you hard sell the Yaupon, alright.
Abianne Falla - 0:25:04
Kyle Krull - 0:25:07
Like a soft and a pressure test for the and.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:25:10
I had. I will do it for you at the end. If if if.
Abianne Falla - 0:25:13
You need to. Yeah. So I mean sweeping statements obviously there are some really great single origin tea farms that are taking care of their people and doing great agriculture. Unfortunately they're very much the exception. So T as an industry is it's, it's obviously an old industry, right. And so the way that the sourcing works, you're often the distributor is purchasing on a market from a different country and they're three to four. That's removed and purchasing from who's actually harvesting it. So then you lose so much transparency in that and then also it's often coming from countries where agriculture is.
Abianne Falla - 0:25:45
A really hard industry to regulate and so even the organic certification has massive exposure to drift, right. So you know, we've seen reports or anywhere from even 30 to 50% of T that is organic still has traces amounts of herbicides and pesticides.
Kyle Krull - 0:26:23
You're talking his neighbor farmers will be spraying. Yeah, and that drift of the spray will end up on the quote. Here's the organic certified.
Abianne Falla - 0:26:30
Land, yeah, exactly. So it's not even necessarily like a malicious trying to dupe the organic inspection, it's just a function of the fact that. Developing nations and that's not even touching on the human treatment of these harvesters and workers. And so because so much of the purchasing in this industry is so far removed from the growing, it's different than coffee in that sense or more like coffee used to be 1520 years ago or still is on the commodity side. And so and then the other thing is tea is never washed when it's being. Processed so the first time those leaves touch water is when you steep it. And so if it has been sprayed with anything, directly or indirectly, you're you're drinking it because that's the first time it's ever rinsed and.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:27:23
So more bioavailable, like you're basically like supercharging it to like be worse for you in that setting too?
Abianne Falla - 0:27:28
Right. You're heating it and putting it in water and drinking it right and.
Kyle Krull - 0:27:33
Abianne Falla - 0:27:35
Yeah, Yum. So it's even more important as a food product that it is clean and so you know there's that perspective and then there's the fact that everything is coming on a ship or on a plane to get to the US, right. Like obviously there's some tea growers in Hawaii and I think one or two farms. But you know most of the time they grow is sold in their get like gift shop. It's not anything that's moving the needle on production and so. From a sustainability perspective, everything is imported. And then also the fact that, you know, a lot of that cultivation requires water and because we're wild harvesting and we don't use water in any of our processing like the cup that you brew like.
Abianne Falla - 0:28:08
Is literally one for one of water that's been added. Wow. And so that's really, yeah, it's really low water usage. It's the carbon footprint is so small and the fact that, you know, we're not fighting Mother Nature for a crop that shouldn't be here. In fact it's it's this crop that is fighting everyone else to be here.
Abianne Falla - 0:28:34
And so you know. Those factors alone are are huge in the sustainability aspect and alternative for Yaupon over imported tea or coffee, so.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:29:08
Kyle Krull - 0:29:09
That's insane. So I'm I'm gonna try to like, recap that in, like, bullet points.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:29:13
Essentially. So let's go.
Kyle Krull - 0:29:14
It's like the human aspect for like the treatment of workers in these different countries where they're developing nations. And for reasons that we can't control, it's just harder to enforce good labor practices too. There's like the pesticide herbicide drift issue, which is, you know, to no fault of any T. You know, brand, they're trying to get organic and that's just hard to do because of where these crops are grown. 3, There's the water issue, which I mean, as we all know, the Colorado River is like literally drying up as we speak. So not using water in Texas and having to plant that's like super, you know, requires literally no irrigation is incredible. I'm sure I'm missing 1. Anthony, help me out here.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:29:53
I think the carbon footprint from a logistics standpoint, right. So look to round this all up, if you're going to buy coffee or tea to get caffeinated, buy organic. Regenerative coffees and teas right from Great Britain are out there doing great work. We salute them. They're amazing. But like why I was so fired to speak with y'all is this is the native caffeinated plant. Like so when we talk beyond just soil health principles and regenerative AG principles. Like if we talk about deeper regeneration of like connection to place and like all those reasons we just mentioned, like this is what we should actually be drinking. Like this is the past teaching us like hey idiots, like slap in the face.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:30:02
With this look look at this like this is really the the actual solution, so it's powerful stuff.
Abianne Falla - 0:30:38
Well, and I feel like that. Isn't that just the the extension of the regenerative conversation that we're having, right. Like, I'm a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and so and I'm part of the Intertribal Agricultural Council. And so and so much of that is it's like and that's not a tradition I grew up with, it's what I'm learning. But at the same time it's like they're like, you mean regenerative, organic, you mean how we've always been? Producing like.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:31:05
How it again for the people that say it again for the people in the back?
Abianne Falla - 0:31:08
Yeah. You mean how how we did this entire country before y'all got here. And so, yeah, it's, it's, I think it is tied to that, right. Like why would we produce steelpan in any other way when it is so deeply tied to so many different indigenous tribes, you know, in this tradition and then the same way. Like that. Like I know, at least for the Chickasaws, like we defined being a warrior as being a steward of the land. Like that was just how the approach was to everything, our interaction with the land with other tribes of people. And that's something that is still carried forward today even though. You know your pandas isn't grow as well in Oklahoma, so the tradition has been really lost from back when we were in Mississippi, but at the same time like.
Abianne Falla - 0:31:54
Yeah, it's, it's I feel like it's a big parallel to that bigger conversation of like, yeah, regenerative, organic. It's nothing new. It's what what you made all of the indigenous people stopped doing. 100 years ago, so yeah.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:32:19
Those caffeinated crops have such a horrible history of like, you know, aggressive colonization from a geopolitical standpoint or the Western world to basically profit off of these marginalized, you know, other countries. So there's just, there's so much, there's so much to unpack there and I love that all in and it's beautifully said. So thank you.
Abianne Falla - 0:32:39
Kyle Krull - 0:32:41
It's also, I mean when you think about just the difference between like when you have your cup of cup of tea and to think about. The journey of that plane, you know, somebody walking onto somebody's land and picking some some leaves. Again, I'm probably way oversimplifying that because I've obviously.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:32:56
Abianne Falla - 0:32:59
Kyle Krull - 0:33:00
Yeah. Right. Probably like attacking you. It sounds like this like Bush really country just wants to like survive no matter what. So yeah probably makes it a little bit harder than that. But compare that to something that has been shipped and sold from you know, multiple different hands and like you mentioned anything like the oppressed peoples of you know, smaller nations, it's it's just insane to think about. And yeah if if I don't drink caffeine, I really want to drink caffeine just to drink this product. Well, yeah, just to be able to harvest this in our backyard in a way that is like beneficial and I almost, it's sustainable, regenerative.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:33:35
It's just extraordinary.
Kyle Krull - 0:33:38
But we've talked about the history of Yaupon, which is extraordinarily interesting, just like a fascinating topic. And I think we probably just barely scratched the surface I'm sure you have a ton of.
Abianne Falla - 0:33:46
Other interesting stories.
Kyle Krull - 0:33:52
I mean, honestly, if we, if we have such a cool story, we need like a Netflix documentary on the history of, you know, so if Netflix is listening, like, let's make that happen. The plant, we talked about your story and your journey with Yohan and that 10 year argument where we are today and in the current success that you have with Whole Foods and the the numerous other partners and channels, what is the future outlook look like for?
Abianne Falla - 0:34:18
Catering, you know, we've got a couple of different directions that we can look, right. So this is the the perk and the downside of building a brand product category and building a agriculture manufacturing company.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:34:35
Just a few things.
Abianne Falla - 0:34:36
Yeah, sometimes I'm like, what was going on?
Kyle Krull - 0:34:41
Also create. Anything on my plate?
Abianne Falla - 0:34:47
So, yeah, so I think you know if we're looking back towards the sourcing I I think we've got hypothesis that we want to try out. That we're just trying to figure out the best way to experiment and then potentially scale. So everything from the reintroduction of the native grasses and the importance of. Those root systems, you know, being upriver from Houston, we see the. You know, the destruction that having massive runoff and lack of water table replenishment has from an agricultural perspective and then. You know, along those lines too is like well, how do we, you know, my hope is that Yaupon becomes a hugely successful industry. And so if that's the case then there's going to be a huge scale of demand and how do we help establish the practices that will prevent us from, you know, making some of the mistakes that perhaps some of the year remote producers had over the years. And so, you know, that's one of the reasons I helped start the American Yaupon Association with a couple of the other producers that we can share a little bit of our practices.
Abianne Falla - 0:35:25
And and also just you know help people as they start out so that we can kind of bring them up a level too because it's you know somebody is producing a subpar product and then somebody experiences Yaupon for the first time in a way that isn't great. Then they'll they don't know to differentiate and they may never try another one. And so that's part of like helping to level help the brand, the industry kind of level up as we go. And along those lines too of like trying to help share the research, right, because like I mentioned before, most of the research around Yaupon has been done on how to eradicate it. And there's so much that needs to be done to substantiate a lot of the, the health claims. And I think we've really only scratched the surface just to even see the benefits of this.
Abianne Falla - 0:36:25
You know it's right really rich in saponins which is a natural cleanser and it's really rich in anti-inflammatory properties which is shown to be chemo preventative in a Petri dish. In colon cancer, obviously we put that nowhere because you don't touch the see where the marketing, but you know at the same time there's this incredible benefit that. Is that we need to substantiate and to be able these other things that we want to be able to develop. And so there's the research side of it. And then and then for me a lot of the fun part is just a lot of the partnerships that are growing and scaling with, you know, I mentioned Rambler and their energy drinks in in Greenbelt with their kombucha in different restaurants and food distributors. You know, we love working with them and it's also fun too, like we just do Yaupon, back in the day we used to.
Abianne Falla - 0:37:12
Try to do blinds and that sort of thing and realize, like now, we'd rather work with people who are really good at that and that's all they do, yeah.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:37:49
Abianne Falla - 0:37:51
And we'll supply the Yaupon and and we, you know, we have three different preparation methods. So we have 3 flavors, but it's all Yaupon. So it's like a green, a medium roast and a dark roast. And so it's just employing different traditional tea methods to bring out the flavor profiles. And so that's that's where we stop and. Yes, we love the collaboration piece of it. And then I think on the product side, we're figuring out how do we reach more people, right? Like how do we put Yaupon in more and more people's hands? And also knowing that like tea in and of itself, like, yes, it's a huge industry and market, but at the same time like not everyone even owns a cuddle and makes their own tea bags and makes their own tea. And so how do we get in front of more people?
Abianne Falla - 0:38:12
We've soft-launched an instant product called VIBE by Catspring Yaupon
Anthony Corsaro - 0:38:48
I saw that I wanted to ask you about that they look.
Abianne Falla - 0:38:51
Sick. Yeah, yeah. So it's this really, really clean technology. It's literally just a dehydrated concentrate. And so it's 100% Yaupon. It's instantly soluble in hot or cold water and like 1 vial is about 10 servings. And so that's something that we've soft launched to get more and more feedback for people. But yeah, it's it's an easy way to get iced tea or iced Yaupon and get those health benefits throughout the day without having to physically steep a teabag or loosely so.
Kyle Krull - 0:39:26
So. My 90s brain immediately goes back to like video, like there's like droplets that you put in water to like flavoring. So it's essentially it's that concept, but something that's actually like beneficial for you and on the go and whatever sort of container of water.
Abianne Falla - 0:39:44
Yeah, it's a crystals and not a look exactly. And historically a lot of the like even if you're looking at like a crystal light or some of the instant coffees they were made by like you and sprayed the concentrate on a starch or on something else and that's what was soluble. But this is there's nothing added it is literally just a dehydrated concentrate and so it's, it's pretty exciting it's technology that's only really developed in the last few years and so. Um, yeah. Wow. That's a lot of that.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:40:18
Abianne Falla - 0:40:19
Anthony Corsaro - 0:40:19
Were three things are coming to mind for me. One I'm gonna buy some of that product as soon as we get off because like for my afternoon pick me up I don't wanna full hundred 150 milligrams of caffeine but like that 25 to 50 that Yaupon has that is more slow releasing like would be perfect so love that product innovation 1-2 I love your approach around collaboration and kind of trying to use people that already have bigger existing audiences or markets that have built up trust because I'm from the Midwest and I think of like. Elderberries, elderberries are like such a cool plant that like has all these great health benefits and has all these great ecological benefits and like it hasn't scaled at all. And why is that? I don't know. Not an elderberry expert. So I'm not gonna pretend to know but my assumption is, is one of the problems is we haven't plugged into some of those larger scaled people and leveraged that scale to like bring that the beauty and the efficacy of that product to the masses. And I love that you're trying to do that with Yaupon from a nerdy ecological.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:40:49
You know, regen ag question, you talk about the native grasses, is the vision for that that they're like planted with the Yaupon plants and they're right next to them and it's just better for like the overall land ecosystem to build back native grasses. It's just that simple or is it we're going to replace the Yaupon plants that are old or like just talk to me a little bit more about the, the actual usage you're talking about the native grasses?
Abianne Falla - 0:41:41
Yeah. So, I mean partly this is what we really need to experiment to to see. I think it is. It's going to be a mixture of that, right? Yaupon tends to shade out everything else, so it can't be too closely tied, but at the same time, if we're making kind of like. Our hypothesis would be like swaths or large trails running through and so then that allows more of the access the water and then even actually makes it easier for us to harvest as well. So it would be something that would be kind of a hybrid of the two of those. So not wiping out necessarily huge acreage of the Yaupon, but rather kind of figuring out what that middle ground. Could be that they can play play well together.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:42:35
Yeah, actually like pseudo.
Kyle Krull - 0:42:36
Pasture I'm I'm struggling a little bit here because.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:42:39
That like I'm I'm picturing like silvopasture, like Yaupon and native grasses. Like silvopasture. Maybe not that Victorian of like rows of trees, but like something similar to that. That's that's really the goal, right?
Abianne Falla - 0:42:51
Anthony Corsaro - 0:42:52
Kyle Krull - 0:42:53
What blows my mind about this conversation is that most people are looking to grow more of a particular plant and it. It's like.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:43:01
You're trying to.
Kyle Krull - 0:43:02
Weigh in. Yaupon and like almost like create a native grasses fence if you will around the Yaupon like you said to make it a little bit easier to harvest. And what I like about that is I think you mentioned this earlier that the native grasses were eradicated to grow hay and alfalfa or something along those lines and it sounds like the Yaupon can fight and win that battle every time and that would have assuming happens with the native grasses is that maybe they can fight back a little bit harder and actually like you know that that's the. The power diverse crop or grass or whatever that's supposed to be there and they probably interact Better Together in the soil and have a better nutrient.
Abianne Falla - 0:43:42
Exchange sort of and it's interesting because this is not where, so there's some other Yaupon producers like I mentioned and they are you know everywhere from along the Gulf Coast, Georgia and Florida and doesn't grow like this there it grows you know they're having to, they've already had to start cultivating the plant because it doesn't grow anywhere near as densely. And our thinking is that a lot of it has to do with the sandy loam. Like the sand and clay mix that we have here. Yaupon doesn't thrive in the marshy, wetter soil. It likes to be coastal, but. Yeah, it hasn't taken over like it has in our area and I mean you can even just look it's like almost this like perfect map of these fingers of like this kind of sandy clay staggering. I mean we can walk a mile and and switch between the two where we are in Cat Spring several times. And so it's just this interesting mix is what we think has really played a huge part of that. But yeah, likely because of the the eradication of those native.
Abianne Falla - 0:44:20
grasses and then also there was more prescribed burning when where we were was in like Karen Cowell region and so they would actually do more prescribed burnings and that sort of thing. But yeah, we're cat spring is really, really deep German and Czech ties so. You know some of the land owners that we work with there and actually the our manufacturing facility is in an old 1880s blacksmith shop that we've retrofitted and he came over from Germany in the 1850s. And so yeah, so it's it's they were bringing in like the potatoes and very different agriculture and then obviously now. It's a lot more cattle. But yeah, some of these families can tie back to like the original Austin 300 families that came with Stephen Upston. So it's a really kind of traditional area. But yeah, the agriculture has changed a lot in the last hundred, 200 years. So that's that's where we're, that's where we are.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:46:04
Yeah, I I have a question. Or you just talk about retrofitting and an old blacksmith shop, let's shift from agronomy to economy, right and. Big a big.
Kyle Krull - 0:46:16
Anthony Corsaro - 0:46:17
Come on, the guy like it? You know how it.
Kyle Krull - 0:46:19
Is. Podcast ohh.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:46:24
Don't make me blush, I'm trying to deliver my question. The the question is really around financing and how have you, how have you funded the organization because two of our big takeaways from all these conversations, especially with the emerging brands is we need a different kind of funder and we probably need new funding mechanisms. So very curious how the the fundraising and financing piece has been for you all through all this work that you've done.
Abianne Falla - 0:46:47
Yeah, sure. So today we actually haven't raised any funding. And it's been entirely through USDA grants is how I've.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:46:56
Abianne Falla - 0:46:57
Anthony Corsaro - 0:46:58
Tell us more there. That's amazing.
Abianne Falla - 0:47:01
Anthony Corsaro - 0:47:02
With capital baby, that's the name of the game.
Abianne Falla - 0:47:05
Yeah. We haven't gotten close to $1,000,000 over the last 10 years in the USDA, very like between the USDA and the Texas Department of Agriculture kind of piece mealing all of that together and awards as well. So I tend to apply for anything. So we've won like Eileen Fisher, Women Entrepreneur, we Work Creator award. Trying to think there's been others, but and then the USDA value added producer Grant we've gotten several times and that's really how we funded to date which has been.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:47:45
Good for you, good for you. That's that's awesome. And as as as much as we point out some of the issues on the fundraising and financing side and especially with the USDA, it's always good to hear of some success stories. So that's great to hear. My, my thought question there was for for those that are listening that aren't super intimate with the grant writing process, you're basically applying for money that's that's given to you and it's not, it's not debt or equity, it's not an investment. You have to pay it back, but you have to kind of win it, you have to be awarded it. So what have you focused on kind of selling to the grant, the folks giving the grant money away just like the economic opportunity and building the yoban industry or what's it been?
Abianne Falla - 0:48:26
Yeah, I think that's been a lot of it. I mean, I think so. Grant writing. I guess so. My background is I have a CPA, I worked for instance Young for a few years and then have my MBA and entrepreneurship. So I also know that from a farmer perspective, I probably have a little bit more of an ability to navigate the grant writing. And that's something that I've really seen. Like there are things where I'm like I'm applying for the grant. I'm like how is any other farmer supposed to be able to do this? Like I this is my background and I still am Googling words.
Abianne Falla - 0:48:30
Hands like trying to figure out, yeah, how to build a robust business model for them to fall. Like I I completely agree and I'm very grateful for the funding that we have had, but also know that I. Have a unique background to be able to even just like navigate it. And I still paid somebody the first time because it is very difficult to navigate. It's a lot of time, but you're right, like it's non diluted. It's not free money, but in essence, yeah. And so I think with that I would say there are more and more resources that are out there of like I know the small business wait sustainable Business Network has. Is that something that they're working on and creating a regenerative agricultural and justice team and that's one of the things that they're trying to work on is like.
Abianne Falla - 0:49:32
How do we get this USDA funding that has historically gone to bigger companies that may not be using it for good? How do we get that funding channeled to the people who are smaller and we'll be using this money for for for good instead of evil, right. And so I'd say reach out. I know the USDA is actually now putting a lot more money under this administration through the National Conservation resource services, so. Again, when I was at the Intertribal Agricultural Council in December, the USDA actually sent like 100 of their agents from the CRS to because they are going to be dispatching all of this capital and they want it to be as regenerative and climate smart as possible. And so talk to your NCRS agency, they're all, there's one in every county. And so they've got more projects that they're able to fund. And so I think don't necessarily.
Abianne Falla - 0:50:39
Try to do it on your own. It's really hard. And yeah, and what I think was what hard for me to figure out at first was that don't necessarily be writing like what your pitch would be, but rather like figure out how they grade and then write to that. Which is a bit counterintuitive in some ways because you're like really this is, this is what I should be, right? But at the same time, you know they're following a rubric, right? And so right to that. And people know what that is, so find find resources and they're and they're out there, so.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:51:50
Yeah. Well said, well said. Congratulations again on that. Beautiful. Thanks. I'm gonna take us home with the last question, which is the question that we ask everybody, which is how do we have, how do we scale regen brands to have 50% market share by 2050?
Abianne Falla - 0:52:07
By 2050. Alright, so we got. 27 years. I think it's.
Kyle Krull - 0:52:17
Accounting is going off right there. It's like 27.
Abianne Falla - 0:52:22
I think you can't under. Like, put your money where your mouth is, right? Like, if this is what we value. No, no one can work for free. No one can pay people for free. Like if this is what you value then then then buy this way, right? And also at the same time understanding that.
Abianne Falla - 0:52:32
You know, I I don't expect anybody to pay 10X what the? You know, maybe not as. Thoughtfully produced alternative would be and so I think that's what it's hard right. So like how do we narrow the the gap in that so that regenerative? Sourcing can be more affordable. And I think partly one of the things that CPG brands face is how do we make regenerative and sustainable choices available all the way through? Like, I feel like this is a choice I'm constantly making of, well, if I ship it in this packaging, there's a 50% chance it's going to break before it arrives, but at least they can compost it or if I ship it in this packaging then.
Abianne Falla - 0:53:10
Only 50% of cities have the ability to recycle it. And so I think working together and no brands can solve all of those problems, right? Like, so how do we get people all along the supply chain and all along? You know, in each of those decisions, solving those problems, right? And so I think and then also letting people.
Abianne Falla - 0:53:58
Be 50% of the way there, right? Like, I think sometimes it's easy to be accused of greenwashing or accused of, you know, making bad choices when it's like, yeah. And you kind of sometimes along the way have to make better bad choices because. It's not a clean industry and you're still literally it's consumables like by definition Consumer Packaged Goods. And so how do we like just keep moving that needle and like celebrate the like 5% improvements every few years?
Abianne Falla - 0:54:24
And then then that will also help move the needle on the money piece, I think too. So yeah.
Kyle Krull - 0:54:51
That reminds me of a phrase Anthony introduced me to a while back and progress over perfection. He's probably laughing. He's probably about trying to steal his Thunder. Well, when you talk about the regenerative decisions that businesses have to make, I I can't help but think rewind back to a moment I had earlier in this podcast where I was like just making RTD, making RTD Yaupon. But when you make an RTD, a lot of packaging, you're shipping a ton of water. So there's a lot of you know shipping costs there. You know broken glass and or the use of plastic versus what you've created with the VIBE is significantly smaller. You can ship a huge quantity with a you know smaller carbon footprint. And to me that strikes me as a very like.
Kyle Krull - 0:55:02
Regenerative, thoughtful decision because everybody already has water. Do you already, do you need to ship the water or can you just shift the concentrate? So it's just for me that was like a click as you were explaining that. I'm not sure if that's your thought process when you made that decision or not, but you just totally.
Abianne Falla - 0:55:49
Makes sense and I think that you know, it's you're exactly right and you know maybe in RTD is still in the works but having in my mind I'm like. Because that's how most tea is consumed in the US, right? So if we are gonna build your plan as an industry, I don't want to. Nix somebody coming along with an RTD, right, like because that's how you're going to get market capture. But it goes back to the like progress over perfection. And then if we already have the solution for the RTD on the other side with the vibe crystals, it's like we already have the refill. If we have to do the RTD step to get the customer acquisition, then great and eliminate it by 2030. But at the same time you're, you know, you're exactly right.
Abianne Falla - 0:56:06
Like that was one of the reasons that we went with. It is because like how do we create? A sustainable alternative to an RTD, yeah. So depending on which order that gets launched, like we'll see. But yeah, at the same time, yeah. Yeah, that's exactly where we are.
Kyle Krull - 0:56:55
Really, really cool. Makes me think there's a whole like budding potential industry of like, concentrates that could be out there, you know what I mean? So fascinating rabbit hole.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:57:03
It's a good illustration to me. There's two of like if you talk to anyone and just regular mainstream CPG, not not even regen, it all comes down to margin like it all comes down to margin to build profitability to like build a sustainable business. And so on the regen side like these systems all come down to margin as well because on the Big AG, big food whatever and not all big is bad but in the establishment trench foot. Awesome. They've figured out margin, they figured out margin for the chemical suppliers to the farms. They figured out the the farm margins. Even though we've we've abused them, they're not high as they should be. We figured out processor margins, we figured out distributor margins, we figured out retailer margins like they have this margin accordion figured out and it's humming and making music right. Whereas we have a whole different context we're making decisions off of on our side and we're trying to build the accordion and make you know, figure out how big the margin needs to be and where the margin gets sacrificed and not and.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:57:26
And that's really, at the end of the day, like what's going to determine if we we make this thing work right? And I think that's a perfect example of of of that as well. And RTD for those that are not in CPG which stands for Consumer Packaged Goods means ready to drink which is a beverage that is in a a canister prepared and you just grab it off the the shelf for the cooler and and drink it right away.
Abianne Falla - 0:58:17
Kyle Krull - 0:58:22
Well, just to summarize my two biggest takeaways from your answer to the what do we have to do to get 50% market by 2050? That I really liked were money where your mouth is like if you really care about the planet, there are choices you can make. And yes, you might have to pay a little bit of a premium, but there are choices you can make that are better for the world and for your own health. And then Part 2 of that was like as an industry, we need to get better about making sure those premiums aren't too high because at some point. It does become unreasonable, you know, for people to pay 345X for Yaupon versus regular.
Abianne Falla - 0:58:57
Well, I think regenerative or like agriculture should never be a luxury, right? And that's where it is right now. It's a luxury good and that's one unfair and two is never going to really move the needle.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:59:13
Very well said, very well said. Couldn't be more happy and share the website URL. How else other people can support you? Wrap us up with just y'all's information so people can support and find y'all.
Abianne Falla - 0:59:23
Great. Thanks. Yeah, catspringyaupon.com or just Google.
Kyle Krull - 0:59:30
Yaupon by the way is spelled Y-A-U-P-O-N
Abianne Falla - 0:59:36
P just that detail. So find us on our website. We're available on Amazon. If you're in the Southwest region, which is Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana where at Whole Foods and central markets. And we love working with other brands, so, yeah. That's where we are.
Anthony Corsaro - 0:59:58
Love it. Thanks so much for joining us. It's great to have you.
Abianne Falla - 1:00:01
Thank you. Appreciate it.
Anthony Corsaro - 1:00:07
For show notes and more information on our guests and what we discussed on the show, check out our website regen-brands.com that is regen-brands.com. You can also check out our YouTube channel, ReGen Brands Podcast for all of our episodes with both video and audio. The best way to support our work is to give us a 5-star rating on your favorite podcast platform and subscribe to future episodes. Thanks so much for tuning into The ReGen Brands Podcast, brought to you by the Regen Coalition and Outlaw Ventures. We hope you learned something new in this episode and it empowers you to use your voice, your time, and your dollars to help us build a better and more regenerative food system. Love you, guys.