With Easter and Passover behind us, spring is really and truly here. The honeysuckle vine draped across my front porch is in bloom, and every time I go in or out I’m blown away by the scent. I’ve been determined to use those incredible – edible flowers somehow. I’m always inspired by ingredients I can find in my own yard, (or my neighbor’s!) Over the last three years we’ve moved so often that I’ve tried to reduce the sting by challenging myself to find the elements in each new landscape that I can incorporate into my cooking. I tried to make you a honeysuckle ice cream, but I’m going to have to keep working on that one, the flavor just didn’t come through. Honeysuckle tea is more mainstream, in fact its been used medicinally by the Chinese for thousands of years. I love it for its delicate scent, and the nectar is sweeter than honey. I was amazed by how much flavor I got out of a jarful of flowers. If you have access to a vine, you’ve got to try this.
Honeysuckle tea is made with the delicate white and yellow flowers of the Japanese Honeysuckle vine. It’s considered an invasive species, so gardeners and conservationists don’t like it, but it is pretty common, so chances are there’s a vine or two near you. The flowers come in pairs, and you’ll want to pluck them right at their base, where the nectar is. Look for freshly opened flowers, and avoid or pick out the leaves, stems, and berries.
The tea is made by pouring scalding water over the blossoms, and letting it cool at room temperature. Then you can chill your infusion in the refrigerator. I left mine overnight before straining it through a coffee filter.
The finished tea has a lovely pale celadon color, a light floral scent, and a surprisingly sweet flavor. Pour over ice, and add a sprig of mint. Whatever you do, though, don’t add honey before tasting your tea — it’s incredibly sweet all by itself. You might want a squeeze of lemon if you don’t like sweet tea.
- about 2 cups honeysuckle blossoms
- fresh mint sprigs
- a few honeysuckle blossoms
- Pluck the blossoms from the honeysuckle vine. Discard any leaves or green parts. Try to take the freshly opened flowers, and even the buds that are about to open. Put them in a pitcher or mason jar.
- Cover with about 2 1/2 cups water that has been heated to just boiling. Give it a good stir and let steep at room temperature for several hours. Then refrigerate overnight.
- Strain the tea through a fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth, or a coffee filter. The coffee filter will yield a crystal clear tea.
- Serve cold over ice with a mint sprig and a few blossoms for garnish.