"each cup of tea represents an imaginary voyage." -- catherine douzel
a little bit of history plus a few facts
Tea is one of the oldest beverages in the world, first used around 2,700 BC in China. Although black tea was not introduced to the Americas until the 1640's by Dutch traders, native herbal teas had been used for on this continent for centuries. For example, long before the arrival of European explorers, caffeinated yaupon tea made from the leaves of a bush in the holly family was consumed by dozens of native tribes living in the American southeast.
Today, there are over one thousand different varieties of tea. It is the world's second most popular beverage - after water. In the USA, over 3.8 billion gallons of tea were consumed in 2019. Many tea varieties offer surprising health benefits such as antioxidant properties that may offer some protection again certain diseases and illnesses. Drinking tea is also linked with lowering the risk of Parkinson's and also lowering cholesterol levels.
Honey has also been a favorite food for thousands of years. Honey is mentioned in ancient Sumerian clay tablets that date to around 3000 BC. Today, Americans each eat about 1.3 pounds of honey per year, which adds up to around 450 million pounds of honey for the country. In addition to simple sugars, raw honey also contains amino acids, enzymes, vitamins and minerals. Honey is know to have antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. All of that on top of the fact that honey just taste great too!
why add honey to your tea?
First, because it tastes so good. Many tea varieties have sharp or bitter flavors, and honey helps to soften and round them out. Second, it's better for you. While sugar or sugar substitutes are often used for sweetening tea, honey is a natural sweeter with no chemicals or additives. For most people, honey is also better for your glucose levels, raising and them lowering blood sugar levels at a more steady and even pace.
With so many varieties of tea, and dozens of varieties of honey, mixing and matching tea and honey can be a fun and flavorful journey. As a general rule of thumb, pair darker honey with darker tea, and lighter honey with lighter tea. For example, mild acacia honey and chamomile tea is a nice match.
best honey for sweetening tea
The most popular tea variety in America is black tea. It is made from the oxidized, heat-process and dried leaves of the green tea plant. It is rich in flavor and more full-bodied, so a darker honey variety is a good match. A darker wildflower honey, for example, is a perfect choice. Wildflower honey is called a poly floral honey -- meaning that it comes from many different nectar sources, including trees, flowers, bushes and grasses. Wildflower honey is made all over the world, and every where it's made will have a different taste based on what is growing in that region. In fact, the same beehive can produce a springtime wildflower honey that is very different from the fall wildflower honey coming out of the same beehive.
Allow hot tea to cool a bit
A word of caution - do not add raw honey to boiling hot tea. Allow the tea to cool first while the tea steeps. The beneficial properties of raw honey (enzymes, vitamins and minerals) can be degraded with heat. The rule of thumb is 'nicely warm.' Sip your tea before adding any honey. If you can sip it comfortably (no burning tongues) then go ahead and add the honey.
And remember, you should be buying good quality raw honey from a reputable source. Don't turn around and degrade the honey by overheating it in boiling hot tea.
Best honey for green tea
Green tea is made from the same leaves of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis) but these leaves are not oxidized before drying and processing. As a result, green tea has a more grassy and herbaceous flavor profile. It should be paired with a bold, but not overpowering, honey variety. Orange blossom honey, with a strong sweetness and mild citrus overtones is a good choice. Sage honey also plays nicely with green tea.
Best honey and tea for coughs and colds
No one likes a cold, especially when combined with a nasty cough. And over-the-counter medicines full of hard to pronounce chemicals are often overused. A nice cup of herbal tea combined with some raw honey can soothe an irritated throat and calm an angry cough. Tea and honey can loosen the mucus in your throat while bringing anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial agents to help heal your mucus membranes. Remember, however, do not give raw honey to children under 1 year old.
Are you dreaming of a nice, warm cup of tea? If you are, then put on the kettle and grab a jar of your favorite honey. At Smiley Honey, our goal is to bring you a good selection of quality raw honey varieties. So click on over and browse our raw honey collection. Whether you are looking for a healthy herbal tea, or a rich cup of oolong, we have the right honey for a perfect match of flavors.