Thursday, June 26, 2008

beeeeee mine, tupelo....

I grew up in a very traditional Chinese household. My parents exposed me to many different foods and flavours growing up, but they were more in the Asian area of cuisine.

So, for me, when I think of honey, there was only one image that would pop into my head - the plastic little squeeze bottle (either a bear or a beehive shape) and the name Bille Bee Honey. Billy Bee is a mixture of "pure" mix of Canadian and Argentine honey.

It's a lovely, sweet, unoffensive, always uniform golden honey and it's amazing on toast, in tea, and any other way you want to get your honey fix.

But after reading Holley Bishop's Robbing the Bees, I was intrigued about the fact that there were many, many other honey tastes out there, depending on what plants the bees had harvested their nectar from.

So a week ago, as I was walking through a Williams-Sonoma, waiting for my friend to buy some cakemix, I noticed that they were carrying some non-Billy Bee honey. As I leaned in to take a closer look, I got super excited - they had jars of Tupelo Honey!

Before reading Robbing the Bees I had no idea what Tupelo Honey was, but now I know that it's a much-prized honey - super rare because the Tupelo only blooms in a very small area of the planet every year for only a few weeks, so there aren't that many harvests to be had. Tupelo is so pure that it's supposed to never crystallize.

It cost $15, but I had to grab a jar to try. I brought it home and eagerly opened up the jar with nothing more than a spoon. I wanted my first taste of Tupelo Honey to be pure.

How can I describe the taste of Tupelo? It's definitely stronger than what I was used to (but not sweeter). Darker and much more fragrant, the taste is strong and "meadowy", and there's a long-lasting affect.

I love Tupelo on toast and it adds a whole new dimension to tea, but it's not for everyone. The strength of the "plant" taste is quite shocking to taste buds used to the sweet, unoffensive mildness of the usual honey.

I won't be breaking up with Billy Bee anytime soon - I'm too accustomed to the sweet honey in a convenient, squeezable bottle (that's easier on my wallet as well), but it was nice to flirt with Tupelo for a little while.

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