I was at a tea event recently and several women at a nearby table had caught my eye and ear. The reason – they had asked the server to please bring some honey to the table if they had any. I was interested, because personally for me honey and tea just doesn’t work. Now honey added to hot water, with a bit of lemon juice and whiskey – made more sense, since that was my grandmother’s cure all for when you had a cough or a cold. She said that the hot water helped to relieve nasal congestion, just like a bowl of hot chicken noodle soup – she never once mentioned the whiskey.
I was able to politely and unobtrusively observe, without being obvious and obnoxious. When the waiter returned to the table, he set down that iconic bear-shaped honey container, that we all know – Winnie the Pooh Honey Bear! All four women added honey to their tea. While I added a bit of sugar to my cup of Assam Monkhooshi Estate tea. So, later in the comforts of my own home, I asked myself the question…when people brew a cup of hot tea, and they need to add sweetener – what do they usually reach for…sugar or honey?
Both add sweetness, but their nutritional benefits vary. But in the end, when it comes to sugar and honey it is mostly down to personal taste. Some teas can taste bitter so adding sugar or honey helps to sweeten to taste. A little research on my part, regarding honey and tea, I learned that adding honey to tea has a variety of health benefits I never knew or thought of. Honey is a rich source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and provides magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, copper and zinc as well as vitamins A, B-complex and C. Go figure!
But I also thought of the plastic honey bear. I had one I discovered in the back of a cupboard, but it had crystallized and was hard as a rock! Now, I thought – why that plastic bear, that we all have had in our cupboards at one time or another. A little more research and here’s what I found…
Two beekeeping families (the Gambers and the Millers) in 1957 California, had a brainstorming session after dinner one night. They were trying to decide how best to market their honey.
A.A. Milne, the creator of beloved, honey-loving bear, Winnie-the-Pooh, had passed away recently, and they were voicing their thoughts on; how much people loved Pooh, the popularity of stuffed bears in general, and how bears and honey just go together.
Ralph Gamber hit upon the idea of packaging their honey in cute, squeezable, plastic, bear-shaped containers. The first bears had a habit of leaking at the seams and originally the Gamber’s daughter’s hand-painted on the little bear’s faces. But eventually plastic technology improved and they sold like crazy.
So, perhaps in the end people who add honey to their tea owe thanks to A.A. Milne.
“I don’t feel very much like Pooh today,” said Pooh.
“There there,” said Piglet. “I’ll bring you tea and honey until you do.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh