Coffee has its Kopi Luwak, cheese has its Pule, and a strong contender in the honey world is Tupelo Honey.
What do all these things have in common?
Let’s put aside their monetary value for a second…
What makes these items special is the way they are made.
With regards to Kopi Luwak coffee, a very unique cat-like animal has to eat and partially digest the coffee beans before collecting and processing them for our consumption.
That means that it can only originate in a small part of the world where this creature, a wild civet, thrives.
Let’s look at the cheese.
Whereas we rely on cows, goats, and sheep to provide that milk we use to make most of our cheese, Pule cheese, the most expensive cheese in the world, comes from the milk of the Balkan donkey, which is native to Serbia and Montenegro.
That makes it a rare delicacy, even though I don’t want to think about what it takes to milk a donkey.
Following this pattern, let’s look at the unique way we get Tupelo honey.
Why Tupelo Honey is So Special
Most beekeepers do not have a specialized product.
Unless you control everything that grows within a 3-mile radius of the apiary, it can be difficult to have a crop of honey from only one type of plant.
Most of the honey we consume comes from a range of flowers. If it’s out in the wilderness, you could get honey that tastes reminiscent of certain wildflowers surrounding the hives.
To specialize in a crop of honey, the beekeeper has to situate their beehives strategically so that the bees focus only on the flowers you are targeting.
The second part is the timing.
You need to ensure that the honey you harvest is only from your target Tupelo blooms.
That means your beehives have to be in place, with empty supers at just the right time.
If you move them in too early, the bees may forage on other flowers in bloom and that will mix up with the target nectar source.
For honey to be considered as single flower honey, like in the case of Tupelo, it is subject to pollen analysis.
A similar analysis is done for internationally recognized single-flower honey such as Manuka honey.
The pollen content must be over 51% of the pollen found in the honey. Anything less would not be considered a single flower.
The amazing thing about tupelo honey is that you can find honey that is 95% tupelo.
That may have something to do with where the beekeepers have to set up their temporary apiaries in order to get their crops.
Where Tupelo Honey Originates
Tupelo is a swamp tree and abundant in only a few places in the country including Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana.
Alligators inhabit some of these swamps which makes it difficult to set up apiaries there. So what do the beekeepers do?
Beekeepers load their beehives on barges like what you see in the image below and float them in the swamp for the 3-week blooming period.
Now, that’s a pretty slim window that mother nature can reduce if she’s temperamental.
The little flowers are very delicate and can be easily destroyed by high winds or severe rain.
This is why the demand for Tupelo honey will always exceed the supply.
6 Key Benefits of Tupelo Honey
1. Fantastic Buttery Flavor
It is thought that people are attracted to exclusivity, but one of the main reasons why this honey flies off the shelf is its unique flavor.
The beautiful golden hue just adds to the consumer experience.
The flavor is fruity, some even say it has a peach-like quality.
It is very pleasant and appeals to a wide variety of people because of its mild taste.
Most consumers say it does not compare to any other type of honey and is very unique.
2. Buy it Liquid, it Stays Liquid
Although crystallized honey can be a great product to eat or use as a spread, some people prefer their honey liquid.
If you fall into this group, Tupelo honey is precisely what you need.
Crystallization is a natural process and there are many myths out there about it. Many equate it to adulterated honey. That simply isn’t true.
To combat this, there are many honey sellers who heat their honey in order to reduce the rate of crystallization.
Unfortunately, exposing honey to such high temperatures kills many of the nutritional qualities of honey.
With Tupelo honey, you never have to worry about that. Tupelo honey can remain in its liquid form for years even if kept at room temperature.
This is just what you need as a honey drizzle.
3. Can be Used by Diabetics
The reason tupelo honey doesn’t crystallize easily is that the ratio of sugars that make up this exceptional type of honey is in favor of fructose.
You see, regular honey is made up of two types of sugar: fructose and glucose.
The concentration of either one will determine how easily the honey will crystallize without any intervention.
Clover honey, for instance, is rich in glucose and is therefore prone to crystallization.
Tupelo has the opposite quality which keeps the honey liquid. Fructose is also a healthier sweetener and is easier to break down in the body than glucose, and definitely healthier than processed sugar.
This is why some diabetics resort to tupelo honey as an alternative sweetener.
4. Forget the Apple a Day; Honey Will Keep the Doctor Away
There is now scientific proof that honey has medicinal uses.
Its anti-microbial properties make it ideal for keeping wounds from getting infected. To be fair, this isn’t completely new information.
We grew up drinking hot lemon with ginger and just enough honey to get it down. Now we have science on our side.
Although more research in the field is required, honey has also been shown to reduce the symptoms in asthmatics and people with bronchitis.
Honey has anti-inflammatory properties that help to open up the airways.
It has also been proven that children who take 2 spoons of honey daily fare better with regard to health than those who don’t.
Honey has antioxidant properties as well. This helps the body fight various problems caused by those free radicals roaming about within us. Why should we care about free radicals?
First, they are the reason we age physically.
Personally, I don’t mind the aging process too much. I actually look forward to that because there’s a lot I plan to get away with during my sunset years.
Unfortunately, that’s their best attribute.
Free radicals have been linked to a myriad of diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, and even cancer.
These are all areas that create healthy profit margins for pharmaceutical companies.
It goes without saying that natural remedies like honey that can help prevent such illnesses are a much better alternative to a lifetime of pills and experimental treatments.
As science continues to explore the treasures locked in the golden capsules found in beehives, who knows what other discoveries we will make about the health benefits of honey.
5. More Than Just a Sweetener
This is where honey, especially tupelo honey, knocks out the sweetener competitors.
There are trace elements of various minerals in honey that we do not find in processed sugar.
- Vitamin C helps to repair damaged cells.
- Iron is literally our lifeline. It is a vital component of our red blood cells without which our blood wouldn’t be able to do its job.
- Thiamine helps the body absorb vital minerals.
This makes honey the complete package.
Although honey is mostly simple sugars, around 97%, these elements, even in minute quantities, do help the body over time.
6. Preserving the Habitat
There are few single-flower kinds of honey left that aren’t from cultivated crops.
Tupelo trees are found in their original habitat and the swamps are a vibrant ecosystem that supports various organisms.
Tupelo honey allows us to appreciate this rare treat from nature that we can only enjoy if the trees and surrounding environment are preserved.
In recent years, it has become harder for beekeepers to report a bumper Tupelo harvest.
There could be any number of reasons that contribute to reduced harvests, but that conversation remains relevant as long as we continue to appreciate and consume tupelo honey.
The best things in life may be free, but the really good rare stuff is pricey.
Tupelo honey is a treasure made available once a year.
It’s such a short window of opportunity that having tasted and appreciated this type of honey, you can understand why the price tag is at a premium rate.
How often do we come across something healthy that actually looks and tastes good? Not often enough if you ask me.
I would trade this honey for those vegetable smoothies any day.
If you haven’t tried this honey, you should. It is anything but overrated.