Sweet teas are made of this ... (apologies to The Eurythmics)
September is National Honey Month, tea lovers, and c'mon, whether or not it's your go-to tea sweetener, we've all at least tried some honey stirred into tea before, haven't we?
Honey is fascinating stuff. We don't mean to talk down to you or anything, but just say this out loud, "honey is made by these yellow and black striped honey bees that fly around collecting flower nectar, and then return it to their hives where these amazing little insects turn it into a natural sweetener that can be consumed right there on the spot." If that doesn't sound like something Willy Wonka could have come up with, we don't know what does. But we all seem to take honey for granted, when really it's kind of magical, don't you think?
Let's stop doing that for National Honey Month, tea lovers! We wanted to write a few blogs about honey in appreciation of this wonderful product, and we're starting right here. First, incredible facts about honey:
What goes into making a pound of honey? Possibly as many as 60,000 honey bees living in a hive that travel as many as 55,000 miles and more than two million flowers!
Is there anything to all those varieties of honey you find at farmer's markets, gourmet shops, and lately even mainstream supermarkets? Yes- in a big way. Just in the United States alone, there are more than 300 unique varieties of honey, and what makes them different in flavor and color is the kind of blossoms from which the honey bees collect nectar. Some of those flowers include clover, eucalyptus, and orange blossoms. In general, the lighter the color, the lighter the flavor, and darker honey makes for more robust honey.
But now some info you can really use: What honey should you be putting in your tea? Part of this is common sense: Pair a strongly flavored honey with a strongly flavored tea. Rich black tea? Gallberry honey is known for having a cinnamon aroma that would be lovely with our Mountain High Chai. Earl Grey's traditional bergamot oil flavor is the perfect tea for the citrus aromas of orange blossom honey. And when you've got a black tea that's really floral, pick out a floral honey like lavender!
Never overpower delicate green or white teas with strong tasting honey - you'll want to use mild honeys like clover, tupelo or alfalfa. And with herbal teas, feel free to experiment - blackberry honey would be lovely in a berry tea like Alpine Berry or Paisley Tart Berry, and we're just learning about "meadowfoam honey", which has a vanilla-marshmallow flavor.
For much, much more on varieties of honey, we recommend you check out the National Honey Board. Now, when you see that honey vendor at the farmer's market, you can have a good long conversation about flavors and tea before buying some! Cheers, tea lovers.