Tupelo honey is a rare honey grown only in Southern Georgia and North Western Florida. Despite its name Tupelo honey, the honey is only produced from one specific tupelo tree called Nyssa Ogeechee. The trees are mostly found on the edges of bodies of water in low-lying areas because of their needs for an abundance of water. The trees are divided into male and female trees, males having the greatest amount of nectar and attracting bees in floods during the flowering period.
Both flowers and fruits grow on this tree. The flowers can range in color from white, yellow, and gray whereas the fruit is called Ogeechee lime and is a small, red, and oval-shaped. The trees are in full production mode between July and August but can last until early winter when the leaves begin to fall.
Tupelo honey is one of the rarest honey forms there is. Produced wherever the Nyssa Ogeechee tree is planted in numbers, beekeepers are able to keep their beehives near these trees in order to produce some of the most flavorful and expensive honey. Especially popular in the Florida region, crops have been able to produce up to $1 million in tupelo honey value in past years. Despite the rarity and expense factor, Smiley honey’s tupelo honey sells a 12 oz. jar for just $10.
The reasoning behind the costly honey doesn’t only have to do with how rare it is. It also has to do with the short timeframe that the beekeepers have to successfully produce the honey. The harvest season can be as short as 2-3 weeks in some years, usually due to poor weather. Beekeepers also experience harsh working conditions and intensive labor. The equipment that is needed to harvest the tupelo honey is expensive and the location of the trees is usually only reachable by boat or other odd forms of transportation. This makes the entire process more difficult to execute. There is work before and after the harvest season that is required as well.
To ensure that the tupelo honey harvest is pure, beekeepers strip the harvest of any other or old honey and must collect the harvest immediately to deter from contamination. The area in which tupelo honey is currently undergoing major developmental changes. This is making it harder to access the coastline as well as the trees in which the tupelo honey is produced from. If this continues, rarity will only increase.
Tupelo honey has similar health benefits to other honey. It is a great source of low sugar sweetener, aids the digestive and immune system, can be a great pre-workout snack, and can serve as an anti-bacterial substance for skin burns and cuts.
Smiley Honey sells raw, unfiltered tupelo honey that is very light in color and can be seen having a greenish hue when held to the light. The taste is described as a floral burst that gets warmer as it dissolves in the mouth. If the tupelo honey is pure, it won’t crystalize even after years, however, 100% pure tupelo honey is nearly impossible to find. Bees will visit other trees/flowers causing small amounts of cross-contamination during the harvest. Because of this, there might be a small layer of sugar crystallization at the bottom of your Smiley Honey tupelo honey container. To reverse the crystallization you can place the bottle in hot water and shake it up a bit.
Tupelo honey has a cinnamon a flowery smell while tasting like a pear or similar fruit. Smiley Honey’s tupelo honey comes from the Apalachicola river basin, the part of the Florida panhandle with the highest concentration of tupelo trees in the world. As noted earlier, this area is currently undergoing developmental construction, making this honey even harder to obtain.