Tea can be sweetened with a number of different substances such as sugar, sugar substitutes and, my personal favorite, honey! Though honey seems to be available in vast quantities (often packaged in cute bottles), we may not all know where honey comes from or how it is made.
The type of honey that humans consume is made by honey bees through a multi-step process. First, honey bees collect nectar from sugar-rich flower sources. Depending on the source of the nectar, the flavor of the honey may vary.
The nectar is then carried back to the hive, where it undergoes a process of regurgitation before being stored in the wax honeycombs inside the hive. This honey is left “unsealed” and requires further processing before completion. Even after the process of regurgitation the honey contains high levels of water and yeast. If the process were to cease at this point the substance would ferment.
The bees then fan their wings creating a strong draft. The draft helps to evaporate much of the excess water which causes the sugar concentration to increase. At such high levels, the sugar prevents fermentation and the honey-making process is complete!
This delicious, flavorful, versatile honey is then used as a beverage sweetener in tea. It is also used in a variety of different manners. For instance, it is the main ingredient in the alcoholic beverage mead – also known as “honey wine.” Honey is also widely used in cooking, baking and as a spread.
Various medicinal uses for honey have also been discovered. It has been used for more than 2700 years as a topical gel for wound care. More recently it has been used to kill certain strains of bacteria and prevent the growth of bacteria due to its acidity, to treat diabetic ulcers, to aide in the repair of colon damage due to colitis, to soothe sore throats and calm coughs, and potentially to eliminate wound odors, swelling and to reduce scarring.
Now that’s what I call a real “hive” of possibilities!
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