I like having my tea with honey.

I always buy unpasteurized honey rather than pasteurized honey, to benefit from the healthful enzymes it contains that are destroyed by the pasteurization process.

I have heard that unpasteurized honey should not be heated to a very high temperature, because that will (just like pasteurization) destroy the enzymes.

So, my questions are:

  1. What is the temperature to which it is safe to heat unpasteurized honey without destroying the enzymes in it?

  2. Is there a rule of thumb for how long I should let my tea cool to reach this temperature? I do not add anything else (like milk) to the tea that would accelerate the cooling.

  • Put the honey on bread, or with peas, and not in the tea?
    – thrig
    Feb 24, 2017 at 15:25

3 Answers 3


Well, after a cursory look online, it looks like the honey shouldn't be heated above 95 degrees Fahrenheit, or what a "natural temperature" of a bee hive would be. Assuming you're drinking black tea, you are boiling the water, so it starts off at around 212 degrees Fahrenheit (near sea level). How long it will take for the tea to cool will depend on what the tea is in and how cool the room you are in is. So, in other words, there really isn't a rule of thumb for the cooling part since the environment the tea is in will dramatically affect how long it takes to cool.

I'd just use a thermometer and check it the first couple of times you make the tea.

  • 4
    So, the answer is, if you want hot tea, you have to be OK with losing the enzymes... :P
    – Catija
    Feb 22, 2017 at 23:33
  • Or maybe a shot and chaser method will do.
    – CMB92
    Feb 22, 2017 at 23:34
  • 6
    So, if it shouldn't be heated above 95 but body temperature is higher than that... then they'd always get destroyed?
    – Catija
    Feb 23, 2017 at 0:40
  • 2
    Honey isn't going to mix into your tea at 95F, it's got to be warmer than that. If you want the enzymes to be active you're better off choosing another way to have it.
    – GdD
    Feb 23, 2017 at 10:31
  • @GdD it will certainly mix, it will just not dissolve within a few seconds. You need to give it time and stirring, but it will work even at colder temperatures.
    – rumtscho
    Apr 13, 2018 at 21:04

To answer this question we can look first at what temperature is required to pasteurise beverages. I'll take milk as an example. Milk is pasteurised at 72 C / 161 F. Given this I would let the tea drop at least to this temperature first, before adding honey.

Update: I read online that honey is pasteurised at 150° F (65.5° C). So this temperature seems to be better than the milk standard above. Given this, letting the temperature drop to 60 C would be recommended to avoid pasteurisation. It's also a pretty good temperature to start sipping your tea :)


I found this article online:

Heating up to 37°C (98.6 F) causes loss of nearly 200 components, part of which are antibacterial. Heating up to 40°C (104 F) destroys invertase, an important enzyme. Heating up to 50°C (122 F) for more than 48 hrs. -John Skinner, University of Tennessee

Personally I like my tea really hot, so this wouldn't work for me.

You said you don't use milk, if you wanted to cool the tea faster, you could add cold water

The other option is making iced tea with honey. Use green tea and let it get down to room temperature, add honey and then cool in the fridge or pour over ice.

There is no "definitive time" to get this temperature, you'll have to experiment in your own environment. Factors that can effect how quick it cools are:

  • Thickness of the cup (thinner cools slower)
  • Size of cup (smaller cools faster)
  • If you leave the teaspoon in (cools faster with it in)
  • Temperature of the room

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.