Tea for your Honey

edited by Madelyn Miller, the TravelLady

January is National Hot Tea Month. Celebrate this delicious beverage with a steaming cup of your favorite tea varietal, sweetened naturally with pure honey.

Just as you pair wine and cheese, you can also pair tea and honey. While there are no hard and fast pairing rules, the flavors of certain teas and honeys work particularly well together. Consider the following:

White Tea
White tea is pale with a slightly sweet, silky flavor and mellow creamy or nutty qualities. Pair mild White tea with equally mild honey varietals:

Fireweed — Fireweed honey is light in color and has a delicate, sweet flavor with subtle tea-like notes. Firewood honey is found in Northern and Pacific states and Canada.

Wildflower — Light in color, Wildflower honey is mild with floral overtones that vary by region. Wildflower honey is available in most areas of the United States.

Green Tea
Green tea is greenish-yellow in color with a grassy, astringent quality similar to fresh leaves. The grassy notes in Green tea pair well with honey varietals that share similar earthy flavors:

Blueberry — The aroma of Blueberry honey is similar to green leaves with a touch of lemon; it has a fruity flavor and delicate aftertaste. Blueberry honey is produced in New England and Michigan.

Sage — Sage honey is white or water-white in color and has a mild, delicate flavor with a light, floral aftertaste. Sage honey is produced in California.

Oolong Tea
Robust in flavor, Oolong tea is full-bodied with a smooth flavor that ranges from light and floral to rich and sweet depending on the color of the tea. The full flavor of Oolong tea pairs well with slightly sweeter honey varietals:

Orange Blossom — Orange Blossom honey has an appealing aroma that reflects its citrus origin. It also has a light but fragrant citrus flavor. Orange blossoms are the leading honey source in southern Florida, Texas, Arizona and California.

Tupelo — This white or extra light amber colored honey has a smooth flavor with complex floral, herbal and fruity flavors. Tupelo honey is produced in the southeastern United States.

Black Tea
Fermented leaves give black tea a dark color and intense flavor. Earl Grey and English Breakfast are members of the Black Tea family. The hearty, assertive flavors of Black tea pair best with robust honey varietals:

Basswood — Basswood honey has a distinctive, biting flavor that is more sharp and complex than most honeys. Basswood trees are most often found in the Midwest.

Sourwood — Caramel and buttery notes highlight the up front flavor of Sourwood honey. It also has a pleasant, lingering aftertaste. Sourwood honey is generally produced in the southeastern United States.

Common honey varietals such as Clover and Wildflower have a mild flavor that pairs well with all tea varieties; these varietals are widely available in most grocery stores. For more information about the honey varietals discussed here, visit www.honey.com. To find a locally produced or special honey variety, visit www.honeylocator.com.

Homemade Chai Tea
Makes 4 cups

2 cups water
2 black tea bags
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup honey*
2 cups milk, soymilk or milk substitute

To make Chai Tea Base, in medium saucepan, combine water, tea bags, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and honey. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat, cover and allow to steep for 30 minutes. Remove tea bags. Cover and refrigerate Chai Tea Base until ready to serve.

To serve, combine equal parts of Chai Tea Base and milk. Heat on stovetop or in microwave.

*Basswood and sourwood honey pair particularly well with black tea.

Hot Spiced Tea
Makes 4 cups

4 cups freshly brewed tea
1/4 cup honey*
4 cinnamon sticks
4 whole cloves
4 lemon or orange slices, optional

Combine tea, honey, cinnamon sticks and cloves in large saucepan; simmer 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and pour into cups; garnish with lemon or orange slice.  Serve hot.

*Use a honey varietal that pairs well with the tea.

Madelyn Miller has no honey in her life, but she drinks a lot of tea. Read her stories on www.travellady.com, www.yogayaya.com, www.carladynews.com, www.chocolateatlas.com, www.coffeeatlas.com, www.teaAtlas.com and www.cocktailatlas.com