Tea and Honey: The Cold Weather Health Drink
By: Mia Paquin
The famous pairing of tea and honey is one that is popular during this time of year, but the combination is often appreciated for nothing more than its taste. While tea and honey are a great tasting combination, there are also a plethora of health benefits in both of these common kitchen products.
Together, tea and honey are an excellent healthy beverage for the ensuing colder weather.
Honey is known as a superfood, which can essentially never go bad. Instead of spoiling, like milk, honey crystallizes. These crystals can actually be broken down. In my personal experience, I have found old jars of honey in the back of my cupboard, but running the jar under water breaks up the crystals and makes it as good as new. Human use of honey as an antibiotic ointment and digestive can be documented as far back as 8,000 years ago. The Egyptians used honey as a wound healer, with papyrus paper from 1700 B.C. prescribing honey to protect surgical wounds from infection. This science still holds true in the present, as various studies have shown that the antibacterial properties in honey aid in healing cuts and other abrasions. While this practice is not widely used today, it speaks to the healing powers of this golden gem. In our modern world, honey is also a nice substitute for sugar, since we tend to eat so much artificial sugar in our daily lives. It is also rich in antioxidants which can have benefits ranging from lowering blood pressure to increasing eye health.
There are more than 300 honey varieties in the United States today and each variety presents its own health benefits. Local jars of honey are normally my preference since they are known to help with seasonal allergies. Since the bees are pollinating local flowers, the pollen is found in their honey and can help your immune system during allergy season. The closer to home, the better. Local farmer’s markets are a great resource to find the most local honey possible.
Tea is another ancient pantry staple that can be dated back to the Shang Dynasty in China, which ranges between 1600 B.C to 1046 B.C. Tea then became westernized in the 1600’s, when Dutch traders brought fermented tea leaves back to Europe. Flavored teas are named based on the herb, flower or spice that is infused into it. With such a wide variety of teas, each one holds its own health benefits. For example, peppermint tea is known to alleviate stomach issues and help with digestion, chai has a variety of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that help arthritis, cinnamon tea can help lower blood pressure.
Some benefits of tea in our modern world include the low amount of caffeine in tea since 40 mg of caffeine is normally found in tea while 85 mg of caffeine is found in coffee. Tea is also packed with flavonoids, which is a natural antioxidant that protects body cells from damage.
When pairing teas and honies, there is a variety of combinations that enhance the flavor of your beverage. For example, the flavors in green teas are paired nicely with floral honey, such as lavender or blueberry honey. Black teas, on the other hand, have a heavier and darker taste which is complimented nicely by orange honey. It is important to note, however, that you should not add honey until your tea has cooled slightly since extreme heat can reduce the health benefits of the honey.
With so many varieties of tea and honey, it can be a fun hobby to taste these combinations and figure out which one is your favorite. Next time you go to your local cafe, try a new flavor of tea and make sure to ask for honey instead of sugar!