There are over 300 different honey varieties in the world. Most of them are good. Some of them are really good. And a few are simply amazing.
Tupelo honey is in the amazing honey category. Why is that?
"As Sweet as Tupelo Honey"
In 1971, the Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison released a song called "Tupelo Honey." In the chorus of this song, he repeats: "She's as sweet as tupelo honey. She's an angel of the first degree." Although he never revealed who he was singing about, many people believe that this song is a tender love ballad to his wife.
So why did Van Morrison compare his sweetheart to tupelo honey?
Once you have sampled this special honey, then you will know the answer.
Over the years, we have received hundreds of customer reviews about our tupelo honey. Here are just a few:
"There may be better honey than your tupelo somewhere on this earth, but we've never found it."
"For the love of all things delicious! I just got my first taste of tupelo honey. Now I know what the buzz is all about."
And one of our all-time favorites:
"I tasted this honey from someone who thinks this is food from the gods . . . and wow, he was right!"
What Does Tupelo Honey Taste Like?
Fresh tupelo honey is light amber in color, and is often a bit cloudy with a slight greenish hue. This green tinting, which you can see when you hold the bottle up to a light, comes from the tupelo pollen in the honey.
It's hard to describe the taste of good tupelo honey. It has an amazing flavor profile.
The honey has a bright fruity-floral burst that catches most people by surprise. As it dissolves on the tongue, it has a pleasing and warm finish that lingers for a while before floating away.
It's a bit like the flavor of Juicy Fruit gum, but completely natural and much more refined. When the flavor disappears, you immediately crave another spoonful.
After sampling tupelo honey for the first time, folks tend to break out into a wide smile and exclaim: "Wow! I never knew that honey could taste so good."
Where Does Tupelo Honey Come From?
Every so often, customers ask if tupelo honey comes from Tupelo, Mississippi (the birthplace of Elvis). The short answer is "no."
Tupelo honey comes from the the tupelo tree; more specifically, the species known as nyssa ogeche. Other names for this tree include "white tupelo", "ogeechee lime" or "bee tupelo." It's a fruit tree, which produces a hard green lime in late summer.
Tupelo honey does not flow out of the tree like maple sugar sap. Each year, beginning in early April, the tupelo tree forms clusters of blossom buds. Each bud looks like a small, green pea.
Over the next few weeks, these buds grow and swell into something that looks like a miniature green cauliflower.
Then, sometime between mid to late April, these buds explode into a round ball with small, delicate spikes. The precious tupelo nectar is at the base of each little spike.
In perfect weather, the tupelo blossoms will last just 3 short weeks. Often, however, the season is cut short by wind and rain.The blossoms are so delicate that a moderate thunderstorm can knock them right off the tree.
WHERE DO TUPELO TREES GROW?
Tupelo trees like to have "wet feet." The name "tupelo" is derived from the Native Indian phrase "ito opliwa" which means "swamp tree."
Tupelo trees thrive next to rivers and in low lying wetlands that flood regularly after heavy rains. But it cannot be stagnant water - there must be some movement to keep the water fresh and flowing around the base of the trees.
These trees are native to the Southeastern part of North America, and the highest concentrations are found in Florida (in the Apalachicola river system) and in Georgia (along the Altamaha river and tributaries).
HOW TO BEEKEEPERS HARVEST TUPELO HONEY?
Beekeepers have been chasing tupelo honey for over 150 years. In the early days, they would build flat, wooden barges and tie them to the riverbank. At the beginning of the season, they would bring the beehives to the closest landing, and then ferry the hives out to the barges.
At the end of the season, the process was reversed, and bee boxes loaded with honey would be retrieved from the barges and then transported back to a "honey house" where the precious honey was extracted from the honeycomb.
Today, barges are rarely used. Most beekeepers have several different locations (called "bee yards") which are on higher ground and within a reasonable distance to thickets of tupelo trees. Good tupelo bee yards often remain in the same family for many generations.
At the start of the tupelo bloom, beekeepers remove any existing honey frames, and replace them with new ones. As soon as the bloom is over, these honey frames are removed for harvesting the honey.
Even with careful monitoring and management, however, it is impossible to get 100% pure tupelo honey. There will always be something else blooming at the same time, and we cannot control where the bees fly.
But bees, like humans, prefer tupelo nectar over other sources.
So when there is a strong bloom, the bees will focus their energy on the tupelo trees. In good years, the finished honey will range from 80% to 90% tupelo content. This is verified through pollen counting, which is why we never filter our honey. You should always look for "raw and unfiltered" of the label before you buy any honey.
It's also worth mentioning that bees need to visit between 1 and 2 million blossoms to collect enough nectar to make 1 pound of tupelo honey. Each blossom has just a few drops of nectar, and this nectar is 80% water.
Nectar is transformed into honey when the bees add enzymes and then fan the open honey comb until the moisture content is around 18%. The finished honey is then covered with a thin layer of beeswax. This is called "capped honey" and it is ready for harvesting.
"NOTHING ELSE MEASURES UP"
Because of its wonderful and brilliant flavor, tupelo honey has a near cult following among honey lovers. Some folks will simply not eat any other honey.
"Sweetened in Missouri" recently penned this review: "Delicious honey that never crystallizes. Nothing else measures up."
When you combine a strong demand with an unpredictable annual supply, it means that tupelo honey can be more expensive than other honey varieties.
But it's worth every penny!
WHERE TO BUY TUPELO HONEY
If you are looking for "tupelo honey near me," then you need to live in the Florida panhandle or in a small area of southeastern Georgia. Driving the back roads in these areas, you can often see home-made signs declaring "tupelo honey for sale."
But for the rest of the country, if you are looking for tupelo honey from Florida or Georgia, then all you need is a computer and an internet connection.
Just click on the button below to make a purchase and you can have some of this sweet Florida honey delivered to your door in a few short days.