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Ahhh, honeysuckle. That sweet scent transports me back to my childhood and long, hot summer days. The vine didn’t grow in my yard. However, the flowering plants covered the neighbors’ fence, across the street. In fact, honeysuckle covered one corner section of their yard, creating a small “secret garden”. I’m grateful for the kindness of this dear couple. Looking out their window, they often spied me sitting quietly there in the corner, breathing in that tantalizing scent.
Later my grandfather, an avid gardener, nurtured a honeysuckle plant in his backyard. I brought home a start from that plant, as an adult with a yard of my own. Sadly, that plant did not thrive.
Now I have a honeysuckle vine, gracing a trellis near the front porch. It is a European variety, showing off cream colored blooms tinged with bright pink. Last fall, as I studied foraging for wild edibles, I discovered that fragrant honeysuckle flowers are suitable for tea.
I’ve patiently waited for spring and for my honeysuckle to bloom, so I can sip on my first cup of honeysuckle tea. Days of heavy rain finally gave way this afternoon to sunshine. To my delight, the first honeysuckle flower fully opened to the warmth.
Health Benefits of Honeysuckle Tea
Beyond its amazing scent, which has benefits as well, honeysuckle is a medicinal plant, used for thousands of years to boost health in a variety of ways. The flower has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Traditionally used in tea form, honeysuckle is available also as an essential oil.
Honeysuckle offers these impressive health benefits:
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, honeysuckle tea is known as a natural way to remove heat and toxins from the body, making it an excellent tonic for the liver.
Heals Upper Respiratory Tract Infections
Honeysuckle is an potent remedy for colds, flu symptoms, bronchitis, COPD, asthma, fever and pneumonia. The plant acts as an expectorant, helping to relieve congested air passages.
Relieves Digestive Disorders
This flowering plant is helpful in treating digestive disorders such as ulcers, diarrhea, nausea, bloating, Crohn’s disease, urinary tract disorders and pain and inflammation in the small intestine.
Improves Oral Health
Honeysuckle’s antibacterial and astringent properties improve gum health. Create a natural mouthwash by combining two cups of boiling water with half a cup of honeysuckle flowers and leaves. Let steep for at least five minutes. Remove flowers and leaves and allow mouthwash to cool completely before using. Gargle and swish in mouth daily.
Helps with Type 2 Diabetes
Studies show that honeysuckle decreases high blood sugar levels and reduces insulin resistance when used over a period of time.
Eases Arthritis and Auto-Immune Disorders
Honeysuckle’s powerful anti-inflammatory abilities bring relief to those suffering from arthritis symptoms. The plant shows promise in helping those with auto-immune disorders also, such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, bursitis and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Heals Skin Infections
Native Americans boiled fresh honeysuckle leaves and bathed skin wounds with the tea to prevent infection and speed healing. Today, honeysuckle oil is added to skin creams and ointments to help heal skin rashes, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea. Honeysuckle slows the aging process as well, fighting free radicals that damage the skin and cause wrinkles.
I’ve recently learned about the benefits of aromatherapy. Inhaling the sweet scent of the honeysuckle flower relaxes and calms the body. Further, the scent stabilizes mood, relieves stress and helps to prevent depression.
Possible Side Effects of Honeysuckle Tea
There are a few possible side effects with honeysuckle. It is not recommended for pregnant women or for young children. Because it regulates blood sugar levels, do not use honeysuckle tea if you are already taking medication for this condition. And there are a few people who are allergic to this plant and may experience mild skin irritation. Talk to your doctor before drinking honeysuckle tea, if you have concerns.
Preparing Honeysuckle Tea
Preparing the tea is simple:
If using fresh flowers, add two or three large blooms to a mug. Pour boiling water over the flowers, cover and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Strain and sweeten with honey, if desired.
When fresh flowers aren’t available, add 1 – 2 teaspoons dried honeysuckle to a cup of boiling water. Cover and steep for 15 minutes. Strain and sweeten with honey, if desired.
I plucked that first honeysuckle bloom this afternoon, and added another that appeared close to blooming. After steeping in hot water for 15 minutes, I tried my first sip.
The freshly brewed tea was light green in color, with a delicate slightly sweet aroma. And the taste? Honeysuckle tea is similar to green tea, with a mild, earthy flavor. Although it doesn’t taste like honeysuckle smells, there is a distinct honeysuckle quality to it, a hint of flavor from that sweet nectar within the flower.
I enjoyed it very much!
Tastes Like Summer
For me, honeysuckle tea tastes like summer. Inhaling the scent as I made tea, sipping on the hot liquid, had the same effect as sitting in the secret garden created by those fragrant vines. I felt peaceful and full of joy, centered and whole.
I could easily see back through the passage of time, to my younger self, sitting happily in that corner garden, thinking big thoughts and watching the bees dance among the honeysuckle flowers. In my imagination, she turned to look at me. I raised my cup of honeysuckle tea in acknowledgement and appreciation.
Want to experience another wild edible tea? Try Sweet Violet Tea.
Check out Lowe’s Garden Center, for a variety of honeysuckle plants.
And you can order dried honeysuckle by clicking on photo below:
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