Exploring the world of honey is an eye-opening experience. Honey is so much more than just a sweetener, and should be lauded for all of the valuable properties it offers. For many people, their only experience with honey is the over-processed honey that’s sitting on the grocery store’s shelves in a cute little bear squeeze bottle or a glass jar with flowers on the label.
For honey connoisseurs, these are probably a little on the generic side. Although they taste great to someone who doesn’t know honey, they may taste bland to a connoisseur. If you are one of those folks, it’s time to widen your honey horizons. Let’s learn what the different types of honey are and what purposes they serve.
1. Clover Honey
Clover honey is produced by both Canada and New Zealand. There’s a good chance that you may have enjoyed this honey previously as it’s a very popular honey that is widely available. This type of honey will typically be lighter in color from white to light amber tones as the nectar from the clover comes from white blossoms.
The taste of this honey is mild with a touch of floral sweetness. It adds a nice flavor while not overwhelming your taste buds. You may notice a little aftertaste that is on the sour side. This honey is great for baking and kitchen purposes.
2. Manuka Honey
If you’ve heard of honey being used as medicine to heal wounds, it’s probably Manuka honey you’re hearing about. This comes from New Zealand’s Manuka tree, and is only sourced from this area. This honey is amazing what it can do that rivals some medications. It has been found to have antibacterial properties, and is able to combat infections such as MRSA that can be a very scary subject considering how antibiotic resistant some strains are becoming.
Having this honey as a potential aid in this battle is heartening. Manuka has a taste that isn’t for everyone as it may taste a bit more medicinal compared to the other honeys listed. However, it can’t be beat for the benefits it offers.
3. Sourwood Honey
You may have heard of the miracle sour honey from Brazil a little while back that was supposed to be so amazing that it could cure cancer. Sadly, that was just a tall tale trying to get people to click on articles and create buzz. However, this may have put them onto the trail of sourwood honey. Now, you can explore the beauty of this American native honey.
Sourwood honey comes from sourwood trees that are located in the Appalachian Mountains. The Appalachian Mountains run from Northern Georgia up to Southern Pennsylvania. As the flowers the nectar comes from are white, you can expect this to be another honey that comes in a very light color.
Don’t get scared away by the name as this doesn’t have a sour taste. This honey has a scent that evokes anise, spices, and sweetness and will leave you with a pleasant aftertaste that lingers. Some say that it has almost a butter or caramel flavor. This is very tasty as a spread on bread.
4. Buckwheat Honey
Buckwheat honey is a very dark honey that resembles the molasses and malt that it tastes like. This honey is another with a very strong flavor that is not popular with everyone, and it can have a lingering aftertaste that stays with you. This is produced in New York, Ohio, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania from buckwheat flowers.
This thick honey is rich in iron, and has more antioxidants than its lighter counterparts. Mead makers enjoy using buckwheat honey when it comes to making their honey mead, and will produce a mead that is very flavorful.
5. Rosemary Honey
Cooking with the herb rosemary is lovely, and it can pack a pretty powerful punch. The same is true when it comes to rosemary honey. This honey will be a light yellow. If you’re looking for a honey with a strong sweet flavor, this could be the right choice for you.
Rosemary honey is also useful when it comes to cardiovascular issues. It’s believed to assist with liver function, digestion, high blood pressure, and gout.
6. Dandelion Honey
Dandelions aren’t just weeds that need to be eradicated in your backyard as people are starting to realize the benefits of these greens. If you’re looking for a whipped honey, dandelion honey may be perfect for you. Dandelion greens are becoming more popular as they can be a healthy choice. Honey made by bees using yellow dandelion flowers will create a very vivid yellow honey that is rather different.
Many people love the taste, but it’s not for everyone. This honey has some nice side benefits in that it can help to improve liver issues and digestive problems. For instance, constipation, gastritis, or colitis can be improved by adding a teaspoon of this honey to some mineral water for a daily drink. You should find that your digestive system will right itself in just a few days to a week.
7. Acacia Honey
Acacia honey is a rising star with people buying honey in America. It comes from the Black Locust tree that is located in Europe and North America. It’s another very light color honey, and offers a very sweet taste, but it’s not too strong that it’ll overwhelm what you add it to.
That makes it very attractive to tea drinkers that want that little bit of sweetness with their tea, but want to still be able to taste the tea itself. In addition, it doesn’t change the scent of the tea as some tea drinkers savor the aroma just as much as the taste.
This honey and tea combo should be very relaxing, and when used with Valerian or chamomile herbal teas will help to get you the rest you need. Another reason this tea is popular is that it remains liquid longer than some other honeys because it has a high concentration of fructose, but as it has a low sucrose level, it can be a good choice for diabetics. This honey can help as an anti-inflammatory, improve liver function, and help your intestinal tract function well.
8. Eucalyptus Honey
Eucalyptus plants are for more than just feeding cute koalas, but can also have nectar gathered by bees to be used to make honey. Eucalyptus honey comes from Australia and is also produced in California. The color of this honey will vary, and this is a popular honey when it comes to headaches and colds.
The taste of this honey is different from most of the honeys on this list as it has more of a herbal flavor than many of the others, and you may even notice the taste of menthol. This can be a great honey to add to your tea when you’re feeling under the weather.
9. Sage Honey
Sage is a type of perennial that grows natively throughout America. It is easily recognised by its woody stem and very strong roots system. While the colour of this plant and its flowers can differ widely depending on where and how it is cultivated, it is most commonly found to have soft ovulate leaves that are deep green on top and almost white on the bottom. Moreover, its flowers tend to range from a soft purple colour, to a very light pink.
If a sage plant is not harvested for its leaves, then bees have the potential to collect nectar from its small delicate flowers. This typically occurs during early spring to late summer, and results in a sweet balanced honey that is very light in colour which is often typified by its unique floral after taste.
Sage honey has become increasingly popular as it actually takes on the antifungal and antibacterial properties of the sage plant, boosting immune system function and helping to improve digestive health.
10. Lavender Honey
The lavender plant is one of the most easily recognised on this planet. With its long thin stems, and tiny purple flowers, this perennial is extremely hard to miss. Furthermore, it has commonly been used in natural remedies for thousands of years, where it has been thought to enhance mood and promote mental health, improve sleep quality, and even treat headaches.
With this in mind, lavender honey is simply honey that comes when bees collect the nectar of these incredible little flowers.
Lavender honey is extremely light in colour, and often has a bright yellow tone to it. While its flavour isnt overly sweet, it contains absolutely zero bitterness, making it one of the lightest tasting honeys available on the market. This comes with a slight floral woody aroma, which many people enjoy almost more than the honey itself!
Lavender honey is quite unique as it is full to the brim with tyrosine, a key amino acid that plays an important role in neurotransmitter production within the brain. As a result, it actually has the ability to enhance mood and reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.
11. Heather Honey
Heather (scientifically named ‘Calluna vulgaris’) is a low growing perennial shrub native to Scotland. It rarely grows larger than 30 inches tall and is found growing natively throughout those sections of Europe and Asia that are renowned for their acidic soils.
This small shrub has tiny needle shaped leaves and miniscule white and purple flowers – which obviously hold the nectar from which heather honey is made. Heather is quite unique as it exhibits potent antioxidant properties that can have a rather large impact on health when consumed by the human body.
This essentially explains why Heather Honey is highly prized by honey connoisseurs across the globe.
This particular honey is a very dark amber in colour (some would say almost red-brown) that has a strong woody aroma that is often likened to the smell of fresh picked fruit. It is slightly bitter sweet in flavour and has an extremely long-lasting aftertaste.
Due to its potent antioxidant profile, heather honey has the ability to reduce inflammation and limit oxidative damage throughout the body. This is highly beneficial for cell health, and may even offer a method of improving both immune system and cellular function.
12. Amorpha Honey
Interestingly, the Amorpha plant is very closely related to the pea family. With this in mind, it grows natively throughout almost all of America, northern Mexico, and southern Canada. Commonly known as false indigo, this unique shrub grows to between 3 and 5 metres tall and produces bright pink flowers.
There is recent evidence to suggest that many of the antibacterial and antioxidant properties of the Amorpha plant may have the potential to improve cardiovascular and metabolic health in a very big way, reducing the risk of developing heart disease while also helping stave off diabetes.
As you can imagine, due to these potent health effects, Amorpha honey has been increasing in popularity at an alarming rate. This honey is typically red in colour and has a rather mild flavour, with minimal bitterness and a long-lasting, slightly sweet aftertaste.
While this is one of the more uncommon honeys on our list, the research surrounding its impact on health means it should quickly become on the most popular for those within the health industry.
13. Hawthorn Honey
Hawthorn essentially describes the large genus of shrubs that fit within the rose family. Many of these species are native to north America and are often grown for ornamentally for their bright white and pink flowers, and small red apple-like fruits.
Hawthorn is full to the brim with potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds, hence it has traditionally been used as a herbal remedy for the treatment of cardiovascular disease, while also offering a means of reducing high blood pressure.
While hawthorn is for the most part an invasive species of plant, its honey is notoriously difficult to obtain. This is thought to be due to the fact that it only produces a small amount of nectar (much less than many other species that bloom at the same time of year), thus making it somewhat less appealing to bees.
As a result, this honey is highly sought after.
This particular honey has a rich amber colour, often with a slight green tint. It has a delicate floral aroma, and an extremely rich taste profile that is often associated with a delightful nutty aftertaste. Due to the potent health boosting properties of hawthorn, this honey is thought to boost cell function while simultaneously enhancing cardiovascular and metabolic health.
14. Avocado Honey
Avocados are extremely popular in both Latin and Mexican inspired cooking (guacamole anyone?), but did you know the avocado plant also offers an excellent way to produce honey?
The small blossoms of the avocado plant contain only a small amount of nectar, meaning that it isn’t all that enticing for bees. As a result, avocado honey is extremely difficult to produce on a consistent basis, making it both highly sought after and somewhat rare.
Avocado honey is often described as being one the most unique on the planet. This is due to both its extremely dark amber colour and its incredible flavour profile – which is often described to be both robust and creamy, reminiscent of thick delicious molasses. With this in mind, it contains zero bitterness, and is almost rich and buttery in its aftertaste.
As an added bonus, this unique honey contains an abundance of antioxidants that have been shown to enhance general health and wellbeing.
15. Sunflower Honey
The sunflower is without a doubt one of the most easily recognised plants on the planet. With its extremely tall stem and bright yellow flowers, its incredibly hard to miss.
As sunflowers are quite easy to cultivate, and tend to grow in extremely large cultures, their nectar is in abundance. This makes it easily accessible and highly appealing to bees, facilitating the honey production process in a very big way.
Sunflower honey is bright yellow in colour, and contains a fresh, almost fruity, aroma. It is quite sweet and does have a somewhat acidic after taste, although contains no real bitterness to speak of – making it a highly desirable option.
While this specific honey is not renowned for its health benefits, it does exhibit some antioxidant properties that help boost immune system function, and may therefore assist in the fight against cold and flu.
16. Rapeseed Honey
The rapeseed is a particular plant from the canola family. While it is most commonly harvested for the oil found within its seeds, it does produce bright yellow flowers that contain high quality nectar for the production of honey.
Rapeseed honey is quite unique in colour and flavour, offering a point of different to may the types of honey on the market. With this in mind, it is very light in colour, almost being described as white-yellow. In regard to its flavour, while sweet, it is also typically described to have a very mild peppery after-taste.
Due to its potent anti-inflammatory properties, rapeseed honey appears to have some merit as a treatment for gastrointestinal issues such as gastritis, ulcers, and IBS.
17. Forest Honey
Forest honey (also known as honeydew honey in certain circles) is an extremely unique type of honey because it isn’t actually made from the nectar of flowers – but rather from the honeydew that is excreted by small plant-sucking insects such as aphids.
While it is traditionally produced from trees, it can also come from larger species of grasses and plants.
Although this unique type of honey is highly appreciated throughout the world, it can be somewhat hard to obtain here in the USA as it isn’t quite as well known as it is European countries. With this in mind, this potent honey is extremely dark in colour, sometimes with a slight green tinge. It has a medium sweet taste with minimal acidity or bitterness.
In conjunction with this, forest honey also exhibits potent anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial compounds, making it one of the most potent health boosting honeys on the planet.
18. Linden Honey
Linden honey (also known as basswood or lime honey) is a unique variety of honey that is made from the nectar and pollen of linden flowers, which come from the basswood tree.
This particular honey is often considered one of the most delicious in the world, where it provides light sweet taste combined with almost balsamic minty after tones. Within this is a light amber colour of medium thickness.
The antibacterial properties of the basswood tree are transferred directly into this delicious honey, making it the perfect choice for those looking for a honey that can hep stave off infection and disease. It is also a great option that may help treat a sore throat or a rather nasty chest cough.
19. Wildflower Honey
As its name suggests, wildflower honey is derived from nectar that comes almost entirely from wildflowers. This makes it quite unique in the fact that different types and different brands of wildflower honey can have significantly different flavour profiles – as they may have come from different wildflower varietals.
Despite this, one commonality of almost all wildflower honeys is their sweetness. They tend to be highly sweet and have a light amber colour – although there after tones and aroma can vary wildly.
Interestingly, the health boosting properties of wildflower honey have been shown to help in the treatment of cold and flu, while also appearing to assist manage seasonal allergies. This is likely due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of wildflowers having the ability to enhance cell function and stave off infection.
20. Chestnut Honey
The chestnut tree belongs to the same family as beeches and oaks. Within this, it was for thousands of years a primary source of nutrition for those who lived within the mountainous areas of the Mediterranean – where they renowned for their delicious flavour and highly nutritious constituent.
As you would expect, chestnut honey is derived from the small blossoms of the chestnut tree.
This particular honey is extremely dark in colour, with some varieties almost appearing black. With this unique colour comes a rather interesting flavour that is often described as mildly sweet, with a slightly bitter and spicy aftertaste.
The chestnut blossom has an extremely high pollen count, which is thought to result in the honey expressing some highly potent immunomodulating properties. This makes it a great option for those looking for a type of honey that can cause large improvement in immune system function.
Laura Myers, RDN
The Nutritionist says...
"Some easy ways to add honey into your diet are to add it to: hot tea, lemon water, yogurt, or substitute it for sugar in your favorite recipes."
Forms of Honey
Now, within the various different types of honey available to us, they can also come in a number of different forms. While the form does have very little impact on the quality and properties of that honey, it does play a rather large role in texture.
Considering this, some people enjoy different types of honey in different forms – each of which have what we believe to have their own set of unique positives.
Honey comes in the following forms:
In short, comb honey is a from of honey that is still contained within its original hexagonal beeswax cells (often called honeycomb). It is often eaten by honey traditionalists who applaud the fact that it has undergone literally zero processing or refining.
With the development and production of the honey extractor came the invention of liquid honey. With this, the honey comb is removed from the hive and the honey is extracted using this incredible machine.
This liquid is then filtered, leaving a smooth thick viscous substance that most of us would recognise as the most popular form of honey today.
Chunk honey is essentially a hybrid of liquid honey and comb honey, where a large piece of comb honey is added into refined liquid honey, Once in the honey, this piece of honeycomb can either be broken up by the consumer, or eaten after the liquid honey is completed. Many compare this to the honey equivalent of crunchy peanut butter.
Granulated honey is honey that has been turned into a powder by freezing or drying it to remove any water in the honey. Whipped honey is honey that has been finely crystallized to make it spreadable. It contains one-part granulated honey and nine parts liquid honey which has been firmed up by keeping it at a temperature of 57 degrees.
Whipped honey (also known as creamed honey) is a type of honey that has been processed to limit the likelihood of honey crystallization occurring. It is whipped into a thick cream like consistency that makes it easy to spreads and often much lighter in texture.
Raw vs. Pasteurized
And finally, in conjunction with all of the above, you can also get honey in either raw or pasteurized forms.
Pasteurized honey has essentially undergone a heating process that is implemented to kill off any of harmful microorganisms that may be found in a completely natural product. Unfortunately, this process also removes some of the health boosting compounds that have made honey so famous throughout the health community.
Now, with this in mind, most of the store-bought honey found on the shelves have been pasteurized – this essentially ensures that they are completely safe for consumption (albeit at a small cost).
Raw honey on the other hand has not undergone any form of pasteurization. While this means that the health boosting properties that they contain are through the roof, they may also contain harmful microorganism that can be detrimental to health.
While the introduction of these harmful organisms is unlikely, it may occur and cause some issues. As a result, there is always a trade off when choosing between raw and pasteurized honey – one that is entirely up to you as the consumer.
Since honey has unique flavors and often a thick texture, you may wonder what the correct way to go about tasting a variety of honeys is to find one that you enjoy. You don’t want to the tastes or textures to mix together. You’ll want to get a small sample on a spoon, and smell the honey first.
Our other senses are just as powerful as our sense of taste. After this, you’ll want to place the honey on the front of your tongue and let it melt. This will spread the taste around your mouth.
To cleanse your palate between tastes, you should nibble on unsalted crackers and drink a small amount of water that is at room temperature. Most purveyors of honey that offers the chance to taste test their wares before purchase will probably offer a way to separate the tastes between the varieties.
Have you been missing out on trying all of these different varieties of honey? It’s time to start exploring the tastes and benefits that come from using other types of honey.
Break out of the same old honey mold in flavouring your tea or trying to soothe an achy throat with that bottle of generic grocery store honey that has been over-processed to remove much of what makes it healthier for you.
You’ll be glad you learned about different types of honey. Considering that there are over 300 varieties of honey, you’re sure to find one that you enjoy.
Do you have a favourite variety or brand of honey? What is your favourite way to use it? Comment below and share your experiences with everyone else. Be sure to share this article with others if you found it helpful
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