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Honey in Tea – Brief History and Benefits

Tea and Honey
Table of Contents

    Honey in Tea

    Honey and tea are commonly consumed together. Many people perceive it just as a home remedy for a scratchy throat or the flu. Honey is proven to soothe infections and is also a cough suppressant. However, the combination shouldn’t be used only when sick because it has many other benefits and It’s incredibly delicious if made the right way. 

    But what is the right way to make tea with honey? And whilst everybody can make their cuppa however they want to, there are certain ways that are better than others. However, before we get into this, let’s have a brief throwback to the origins of tea and honey.

    Tea and Honey

    History of Tea

    According to a legend, tea was discovered in 2737 BC by a Chinese emperor. Whilst he was sitting beneath a tree, a leaf from a Camellia sinensis tree fell into the bowl of hot water he was holding. When the emperor tasted it, he liked what he drank, and this is how tea was born. However, the first mention of tea was found in an ancient Chinese dictionary published around 350 BC (tea.co.uk). In China, tea had been drunk and traded for thousands of years. However, it didn’t arrive in Europe until the early 1600s, when it was first imported by Portuguese and Dutch traders.

    In the 1660s, the first tea was brought to Britain by the East India Company. Back then tea was considered a lavish beverage and was only consumed by the rich and often kept for special occasions.  The ritual of tea drinking was introduced first by Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II to the English Royal Court. In 1717, the first tea shop for ladies was opened by Thomas Twining. (thespruceeats.com)

    Tea was heavily taxed in Britain and was still very expensive. However, the smuggling of tea was common, which allowed the tradition to spread around Britain and be accessible to everyone. In 1784, the Commutation Act was approved by the British Parliament, which reduced tea taxes from 119% to 12.5%, which led to ending the smuggling practices. In 1834, the monopoly of the East India Company was ended. This led to tea becoming more widely accessible to consumers from every social level over the following decades. By the late eighteenth century, tea became a big business in Britain.

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    Cutty Sark and the Tea Races

    In the 19th Century, the clippers that carried tea from China to Britain would race to see who would be the first to dock in London with the new crop of each season. One very special ship in British history is the Cutty Sark. The building of the ship was commissioned by John Willis, and it was built at a time of intense rivalry in the tea trade. Willis wanted his Cutty Sark to be the fastest cargo ship afloat. The hull of the ship was composite, made of teak and rock elm attached to a light and streamlined iron skeleton, while a sharp bow and narrow hull ensured the ship was dynamic in the water.

    The ship was built with extremely tall masts, a vast sail area and wire, rather than rope, rigging. This was all designed to increase the speed at sea, and a steering mechanism that freed up valuable cargo space in the hold. Cutty Sark was specifically designed and built to win the tea races. The ship could hold around 10,000 tea chests, which would cost about £6 million in today’s money. However, the great value placed on speed in the tea trade would ultimately cause problems for Cutty Sark and John Willis. The ship was built in 1869 and in the same week, the Suez Canal opened. This reduced the journey between Britain and China by around 3000 miles for the steamships that were allowed to use it. Shortly after that, sailing ships like the Cutty Sark were no longer competitive in the tea trade, which relied so heavily at that time on speed and efficiency. 

    The closest Cutty Sark came to winning the tea race was in 1872. Upon arrival in Shanghai in May 1872, the ship met a rival in the face of Thermopylae when loading the tea cargo. They both sailed on the 17’th of June 1872 and were closely matched for much of the journey. Cutty Sark completed eight voyages
    to China carrying tea. It was eventually repurposed into lower value, but still essential trade routes, carrying wool from Australia to the mills of industrial Britain (rmg.co.uk). 

    Tea Benefits and Types of Tea

    Tea has many benefits for your health as well as its delicious flavour. It contains anti-cancer polyphenols, essential oils, vitamins and minerals. Green ad black teas are known for their cancer-preventive benefits and white tea is known as the tea with the most antioxidants. The antioxidants help the body to remove molecules such as free radicals and help stop the anti-ageing process. Antioxidants also inhibit the growth of bacteria that promotes cavities. It is also found that drinking tea every day for years may help strengthen your bones. Green tea is known to reduce the risk of high blood pressure (benefits-of-honey.com).

    There are currently almost 1,500 different teas in Britain. India is one of the leading countries in tea export, exporting 12% of the world’s teas. The three most popular types of Indian tea in the UK are:
    · Darjeeling, which comes from Northern India and is a light, delicate tea, great for Afternoon Teas.
    · Ceylon Tea is stronger than Darjeeling and is very aromatic with a slightly sharp taste.
    · Assam is a strong tea, which makes it perfect for blending.

    The birthplace of tea–China produces 18% of the world’s tea. Britain’s two favourite types of Chinese tea are:
    · Lapsang Souchong–the most famous of all. This tea comes from the hills in north Fujian and it has a smoky aroma and flavour.
    · Yunnan is a black tea from the province of Yunnan. With its rich and earthy taste, this tea is an excellent choice for breakfast.
    There are many other varieties from both India and China and other countries which include green teas, white teas and aromatics. 

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    Tea Plantation

    About Honey

    Mentioned in Sumerian and Babylonian cuneiform writings in 2100 B. C., honey is the first and most widespread sweetener used by man (thespruceeats.com). Its name is derived from the Old English “hunig”, meaning “honey”, and it was used for people who gathered or sold honey (houseofnames.com). Honey had a high value and was often used as a form of currency, tribute or offering. In the 11’th century A.D., German peasants paid their feudal lords in honey and beeswax. Honey was also used to make cement, as well as in furniture polishes and varnishes.

    High-quality honey contains many important antioxidants, including organic acids and phenolic compounds. According to scientists, the combination of these compounds gives honey its antioxidant power. In fact, two studies have shown that buckwheat honey increases the antioxidant value of your blood. Like the antioxidants in the tea, the ones in honey reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and some types of cancer, as well as promote eye health. Several studies also show

    that honey may improve your cholesterol levels. Honey has been used to heal wounds and burns since ancient Egypt, and it is still commonly used today. Researchers believe that honey’s healing powers come from its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects, as well as the ability to nourish surrounding tissue. Manuka honey is considered very effective for treating wounds (healthline.com). There are many varieties of honey. It may vary in colour, taste, smell and even texture. The distinguishing factor is the type of flower that the bee frequents.

    There are also different production processes that result in a wide array of honey types. Honey could be in liquid, raw or pasteurized forms, whipped, and honeycomb. Some honey varieties are Acacia, Alfafa, Chestnut, Orange blossom, Manuka, Sage and Lavender. Honey is a natural sweetener, and it can be used with almost any cooking method. Honey is widely used in baking as well as in beauty and medicine. However, this article will explore the usage of honey in combination with tea. 

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    How to Make the Perfect Teacup with Honey

    Honey could be used in combination with most tea, but the best options are the ones for cold. Teas like chamomile and peppermint as well as echinacea tea. It’s a herb that is very effective at boosting the immune system and as a result, helping the body fight colds faster.

    To make the perfect cuppa, start by boiling the water. After boiling, pour the water into a teacup or a mug, where you have already put your tea bag or add the tea bag after adding the water (this step doesn’t matter much). Afterwards, put a lid on the mug and leave it to brew for a few minutes (ideally three minutes). Once this is done, stir the liquid, take out the teabag and add 2 teaspoons of honey. Waiting for the tea to cool down before adding the honey ensures that the beneficial properties of the raw honey are not degraded.

    For more healthy beneficial effects, add a tad of lemon juice or a piece of ginger into your tea. Lemon contains vitamin C, which will help boost the immune system as well as loosen congestion in the chest, sinuses and throat. Ginger is also a great addition to your tea. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, it will help soothe bad coughs. Ginger can also relieve nausea and dizziness. Since the taste of ginger is strong, our recommendation is to add no more than 40 grams of fresh ginger.

    Now, many people aren’t sure how much honey to add to their cuppa, so here are our suggestions:
    · For a subtle taste, add one teaspoon of honey.
    · For a cough or a sore throat, add two teaspoons of honey.

    Whether you’re drinking tea simply to enjoy it or to heal your cold, adding honey to it is always
    beneficial and we highly recommend it. 

    “Life is like making tea.
    Boil your ego
    Evaporate your worries
    Dilute your sorrows
    Filter your mistakes
    Get a Taste of happiness”


    Great Pairings of Tea and Honey

    Technically, you can add any type of honey to every type of tea and it will still be delicious. However, there are some honey and tea combinations that work better together than others.

    · Acacia Honey goes great with White tea. Due to its light flavour, white tea should be paired with very light honey such as Acacia.

    · Sage Honey with Chamomile Tea. This combination is perfect for calming you down in the evening. Sage honey is non-assertive honey, and it won’t overpower the mild chamomile flavours. This way you’ll be able to enjoy the taste of both the honey and tea.

    · Linden Honey with Mint Tea. Linden honey has a very specific minty and grassy taste.
    Combined with mint tea, it makes a very refreshing drink also great for the summer.

    Honey is also great in Britain’s favourite breakfast tea–Yorkshire tea. With a splash of milk and a
    spoon of honey, you get the perfect cuppa for any day. 

    Something Exotic
    Another interesting combination between honey and tea is the Chinese drink called Jun. Jun (Xun) is a fermented drink similar to kombucha. However, the difference is that Jun is made from green tea and honey and kombucha is made of black tea and sugar cane. Jun is brewed by fermenting green tea, which has been sweetened with honey. The brewing process is made with the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. Fruits, sweeteners and other flavour enhancers are commonly added to the drink to make it more appealing. However, Jun is not as popular as kombucha, so the commercial market for it is smaller. Jun is hard to find on the market, so everybody who is a fan of it usually has to prepare it at home. Many health benefits have been credited to Jun, but none of them was proven. Because of that, our advice is: “Stick to your regular, warm cuppa!”


    We know you're buzzy; but it's so easy to sweeten someone's day!