Sugar is fine for adding a sweet touch to either tea or coffee, but honey adds sweetness and a unique flavor that will change your whole cup. You may not get much variety at your local grocery store, but there are many different kinds of honey to be found at specialty grocers or farmers markets.
Honey has been used as a food or sweetener for centuries: There are references to honey in the Bible, and the ancient Aztecs and Romans traded in honey. Most people know that honey is produced by bees, who make it from nectar gathered from flowers to feed their young larvae, but perhaps you didn't know that the taste of the honey is effected by the flowers the bees visit. This is what creates the varieties of honey on the market.
Some Common Varieties of Honey
- Alfalfa: A very light honey with a mild flavor.
- Basswood: Stronger flavor, but still has a light color.
- Buckwheat: A much darker honey that's full-bodied.
- Clover: Similar to alfalfa honey, light and mild.
- Orange Blossom: Light honey with a sweet, almost citrus taste.
- Tupelo: Light-colored but heavily bodied honey with a distinctive taste.
There is an almost unlimited number of specialized varieties, unique to local regions. You may need to experiment a bit when using honey in your teas, as the flavor of the honey may overwhelm the delicate or subtle aromas of your tea.
Since it contains fructose and glucose, honey is sweeter than table sugar (sucrose), so you'll need less of it to please your palate. Honey also contains minerals and other elements that your body can use, which overall makes it a healthier choice than sugar.
Honey can be stored at room temperature for long periods of time. If it does happen to crystalize, heat it to remelt the crystals with no damage to the taste of the honey.