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How to Use Honey in Tea

A delicious substance made by bees, honey is a staple in many kitchen pantries.  It is often used in cooking for many types of recipes.  This natural sweetener has been used by humans for thousands of years.  One of the favorite ways is to use honey in tea.  Especially, hot tea to be exact.

Hot Tea and Honey – Good Partners

Tea pot with mug of hot tea and jar of honey.

Tea is a soothing drinking that brings comfort and sooths ills of the mind and body.  Sometimes, we just love holding a hot cup of tea – even if the weather is nice.  And on those cool days, this sweet warm drink can perk you up and keep the day going along.

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Of course, hot drinks, such as tea with honey is a popular home remedy for cough and symptoms of common colds.  Almost everyone has needed a cup of tea with honey, lemon and ginger for a sore throat at some time in their life.

As people become more concerned about health, they are paying more attention to the foods that they eat.  Other than strict vegans – who do not eat honey as a rule, it is a good alternative to granulated sugar or synthetic sweeteners.

It has antibacterial properties and antioxidants. Honey also contains magnesium, potassium and enzymes, in addition minerals and vitamins.  Hot tea sweetened with honey can soothe indigestion problems. And, some people swear it helps allergy suffers with regular consumption.

Small muth jars of honey flavors.

Different Types and Flavors of Honey

Purchasing this gift from the bees can be more confusing than one might think. There is a difference between pure and raw. In fact, the terms raw, pure and natural are often used rather loosely.  When shopping, read the label closely and try to understand exactly what you are getting.

Another area of confusion, or delight, is the different varieties of honey you can buy.  Bees make honey from many different nectar sources.  Each one has it’s own flavors and aromas.  Therefore the color and taste can vary widely. Sometimes, you can even find purple honey – that occurs naturally but that is a rare one.

Is Honey Toxic When Added to Hot Tea?

Any raw product that is over heated can experience a decline in its natural properties.  Even with vegetables, we all know it is possible to over cook them.  They lose color, flavor and nutritional value. How dangerous is heat and how hot is too hot?

Ayurveda Principles

The idea of honey becoming toxic when heated dates back to those who followed the Ayurveda beliefs.  In general, adhering to the idea that it was important to consume raw foods without changing any of their molecular structure.

But, if is was truly toxic, what about pasteurized honey.  No longer a raw food, it that has been pasteurized has been treated to kill any bacteria that might be present.  This allows people with immune problems to enjoy it safely.


Also, to complicate matters further.  Honey is acidic with a low ph. When heated, the chemical structure changes. Fructose molecules are broken down into HMF (HydroxyMethylFurfuraldehyde).

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Not a danger to humans, honey with high levels of HMF is toxic to honey bees. The test can also be used to detect whether or not honey has been heated and therefore may not be considered raw.

Risks of Using Honey in Tea

Honey is a Raw Food.  And, just like raw apples made into juice or other raw foods it could contain small amounts of bacteria.  These tiny organisms could be deadly to babies under 1 year old.  Their immune systems are not developed enough to consume it in raw form  Likewise, adults that are immune compromised are usually advised to avoid consuming raw honey.

But for most of the honey-loving public, it is a nutritious sweetener that can be used in many ways. So, does putting honey in a hot cup of tea increase it’s toxicity.  No I don’t think so.

Woman adding teaspoon of honey to cup of warm tea.

How to Sweeten Tea with Honey

There is certainly no reason to lose any of the nutritional properties. This can be avoided easily.

  1. Heat the water for your cup, mugs or pitcher.
  2. Add the tea bag and let it steep the desired amount of time.
  3. Remove tea leaves or bag and let it cool for a couple of minutes.
  4. Cautiously take a sip. If it doesn’t burn your mouth – it is time to stir in the honey.

If you are making iced tea, the same principle applies. Brew your tea in the manner desired, let it cool on the counter for just a bit. Then, stir honey in the tea while it is still warm – before placing in refrigerator or adding ice.

How much honey to use to sweeten tea you may ask? Well, it depends. I start with a tablespoon for a cup. Then, adjust for your particular taste preference. The variety of honey used may also require more or less to get the flavor you desire.

Best Honey in Tea

There are many different varieties of tea and of honey. As with any flavor, your personal taste preference plays a role in deciding which it the best for you.

Here are some popular combinations but don’t get hung up on them. You can just use regular honey – choose a mild one to avoid over-powering the tea flavor.

  • Blueberry or Orange Blossom with Earl Grey or any Breakfast Tea
  • Tupelo, Clover, or Holly with Jasmine tea
  • Clover, Linden or Avocado with Green teas
  • Alfalfa, Sage or Clover with Chamomile tea

Don’t add honey to boiling water. Let things cool down just a bit. This is the best way to use honey in tea as a natural sweetener without losing its health benefits.

Is honey good safe to eat?  Yes, in most cases it is good for you in moderation.  But, even this natural sugar has calories so it is important to keep that in mind. Use the same principle to make honey sweetened lemonade – it is good hot or cold.