Honey: Liquid Gold
Julia Rutland’s book Honey features 50 recipes―from drinks to desserts to entrées―for cooks who enjoy great flavor. Today we share a recipe for Honey Spiced Tea that you can enjoy this winter. Around the globe, honey is considered a treasure. Throughout human history, honey has been a significant product used as food and medicine. It is an obvious choice as a sweetener, with natural antibacterial, anti-inflammatory properties. Honey is indeed liquid gold!
As long as honey has been used as food, it has also been used as a salve to heal wounds and burns. Honey’s natural antimicrobial properties can be used topically to treat infections, and it is used orally to treat coughs, sore throats, and other ailments. The viscous consistency of honey is reported to soothe sore throats, calm stomachs, and reduce ulcers by coating irritated tissues and decreasing inflammation.
The compounds in honey may also protect against oxidative stress and chronic inflammation that can cause a number of diseases. With winter bringing in the cold and flu season, make sure to have a good honey in your house, and enjoy the healing powers of this liquid gold.
Enjoy a Cup of Honey Spiced Tea
Warm and comforting, this spiced syrup sweetens any strong tea. Earl Grey has a citrusy, bergamot flavoring that is enhanced by the honey, but you can use a plain orange pekoe tea with equally yummy results.
Makes 1 1⁄2 cups syrup
1 cup water
1⁄2 cup honey
5 cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
6 cardamom pods, crushed
1 (1⁄4-inch) slice fresh ginger
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon whole allspice, crushed
1⁄2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 (1-inch-wide) orange or lemon rind
Earl Grey or orange pekoe tea bags
Combine 1 cup water, honey, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, coriander, allspice, peppercorns, and citrus rind in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Let stand 1 hour or longer for a stronger flavor. Strain and transfer to a canning jar or other container. Store in refrigerator.
Prepare tea bags individually or together in a pitcher, making the tea extra strong. Remove tea bags and stir in desired amount of spiced syrup. Serve warm or chilled over ice cubes.
How to Store Honey
Store honey at room temperature, ideally between 64° and 75°. Honey stored at cooler temperatures, such as in the refrigerator, may crystallize.
Beware Faux Honey!
As honey’s popularity has grown over the past decades, fake honey and “honey laundering” have become a real concern.
Unscrupulous bottlers dilute honey with water, corn or rice syrup, and other sweeteners to produce a low-cost, phony product. To ensure you are getting a pure product, read the label. Buy honey that includes the label “True Source Certified” to ensure the honey is authentic and ethically sourced.
Save the Pollinators!
Honey is a delicious and amazing product, but honeybees, along with a myriad of native bees, wasps, and flies, also play a critical role as pollinators.
Gardens frequently visited by pollinators produce copious and well-shaped fruits and vegetables. Commercial growers often borrow hives for pollination to ensure adequate yields of their crops.
It’s actually easy to protect pollinators. To do so, plant a garden with insect-friendly plants; provide a shallow water source; avoid garden and landscape insecticides, fungicides, or herbicides, especially when flowers are in bloom; buy local honey; and leave weeds to grow.
The plants that lawn lovers call weeds, such as clover and dandelion, provide an excellent source of pollen and nectar for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.
And you can help pollinators even if you don’t have garden space: a container garden can easily fit on a balcony and attract pollinators.