It was early June, and already the sweltering heat of summer had engulfed the northern suburbs of Washington DC. The honeysuckle, which had climbed up the backyard fence and spread itself out over the dilapidated chain-linked barrier, sat just below my kitchen window. It was in full bloom...and the scent of its flowers was completely intoxicating.
On this particular June morning, I began to enter deep thought as I made fresh squeezed orange-apple-grapefruit juice with my newest prize, a Jack Lalanne Power Juicer...musing how those fancy Oriental Teas sold at the natural foods grocery stores were sometimes made with the tantalizing flavor of Jasmine flowers, then packaged and marketed at too high a price for too low a quality. As I considered this, my mind drifted back to when I had once visited San Diego California, and had quite by circumstance discovered plants bearing Jasmine flowers growing freely in the back alleyways of the city and over many of the residential fences. It was then that it dawned on me that "Honeysuckle" was simply, for all intents and purposes, an East Coast Jasmine.
The thought was so strong in my mind, that a desire came upon me to capture the taste, the scent, and the glory of fresh Honeysuckle tea in my own teacup. I had, after all, been drinking the nectar of honeysuckle flowers for years, starting as a child. I'd done this ever since my mother had first shown me how to gently pinch and pull slowly at the base of the flower until the drop of nectar revealed itself enough for me to quickly press my lips against the glistening sweetness and absorb the flower's precious ambrosia.
To do this often, one by one, would probably be considered tedious by the youth of today, but I learned to do this in a time before the existence of Game-Boys, Play-Stations, Computers with access to My Space, or Mega Shopping-Malls. It was a pleasant way to pass the time. I remembered licking the nectar from the pristine stemmy centers for what seemed like hours as a child, just sipping and enjoying the sweetness of those flowers. The older yellow flowers were always the best to suck the juice from...better than the white blossoms that had just opened up and not yet filled with flavor. Even the Bumblebees knew this. I recalled watching them buzz from flower to flower...always taking time to bury their heads into the slightly wilted golden flowers...never stopping at the white.
In my newfound excitement at the prospect of making my own floral tea, I grabbed up a blue-tinged plastic 2-quart Dixie container from a cupboard, and headed outdoors to where the honeysuckle grew profusely against the rusty fence below my kitchen window. Plucking the blossoms enthusiastically, avoiding the bees, and careful to gather mostly yellow blossoms (I didn't mind plucking a few white ones here and there), I inhaled their heady fragrance while all the time anticipating the very first taste, the initial precious sip, of my own homemade honeysuckle tea.
A recent rainstorm had blessed the yard with a shower of water a few hours before I had begun plucking, and so I reasoned that the honeysuckle was probably quite clean and wouldn't benefit from any extra rinsing.