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12 Types of Honey (Because, No, It’s Not All the Same)

Everyone knows honey comes from bees: They pollinate flowers by drinking the nectar and bringing it back to their hive where all the magic happens. However, if you were under the impression that all honey is the same, well, we’ve got a thing or two to teach you. Let’s begin with the charming little honey bear you might have in your kitchen right now. There’s nothing wrong with that pantry staple, per se, it’s just that commercial honey is a far cry from the raw and unfiltered type you can score at your local farmer’s market, in terms of health benefits and flavor alike.

The reason for this is that commercial honey is ultra-processed—and as nice as it is to have a shelf-stable bottle of honey you can squeeze into your tea with ease, the processing method involves filtering out the nutrients and pollen responsible for giving different types of honey their own unique profile. In other words, a lot gets lost in the process. As such, those who’ve never ventured into the world of raw, unfiltered honey, might be surprised to learn that you can truly taste the difference between different varieties of the stuff, depending on the source from which the nectar was collected. Now that we’ve piqued your curiosity, read on for a guide to some of the most palate-pleasing types of honey around.

1. Clover honey

Although it hails from New Zealand and Canada, there’s a good chance you are familiar with clover honey, as it’s the most popular type of honey harvested and consumed across North America. Yep, wherever you find clovers growing (i.e., every patch of grass in the spring and summer), you can be assured that bees are nearby, collecting nectar and creating this sweet amber-colored honey, characterized by its floral notes and ever-so-subtle sour aftertaste. Clover honey is light and mild enough to enjoy in a host of different ways—and by all means you should, ‘cause this type of honey has strong antioxidant properties, as well as health-boosting flavanols and phenolic acids that are believed to support the heart, lungs and nervous system.

2. Wildflower honey

As the name suggests, wildflowers are the source of this type of honey—and since wildflowers run the gamut, so does the taste and intensity of this type of honey. Pro tip: Sample wildflower honey whenever possible before you buy it, as the flavor is significantly affected by the specific type of flower the bees have been cozying up with. That said, wildflower honey is typically on the lighter side, with a rich and often fruity flavor. Wildflower honey, like all types of honey, is loaded with antioxidants and some say it can reduce seasonal allergies, too (although the science behind this claim is mixed).

3. Dandelion honey

Dandelion honey is relatively hard to come by—but if you get your hands on it, you’re in for a treat. Hint: Your best bet is to score some at a farmer’s market or straight from a beekeeper early in the season when it’s usually harvested. This kind of honey boasts a darker amber color and more intense profile than clover honey. Dip into some dandelion honey and you can expect a somewhat grainy texture, due to its tendency to crystallize, and a pronounced floral flavor that’s tart on the finish.

4. Orange blossom honey

Orange blossom honey is a light honey that’s particularly popular in Spain and Mexico where it originated, but is fairly easy to find in the U.S. as it is also harvested in warm regions of the country like Florida and California (i.e., places where citrus is grown). This type of honey is soft and delicate with a subtle fruity citrus flavor. That said, the key word here is subtle: If you encounter orange blossom honey that hits you harder than the fragrance counter at a department store, there’s a good chance you’ve sniffed out an imposter.

5. Linden honey

The blossoms of the linden tree are known for their sweet and verdant fragrance; they’re also the source of linden honey—a popular type of honey harvested throughout Europe. Pale yellow in color and equally mild-tasting, linden honey has a sweet, bright and subtly herbaceous flavor that’s downright swoonworthy. It’s also worth noting that linden blossoms contain plant compounds with mild sedative properties that may reduce anxiety. In other words, this honey pairs well with rest, relaxation and bedtime.

6. Acacia honey

The name here is rather deceiving, given that acacia honey comes not from the acacia tree, but rather the black locust tree, which is native to North America and Europe. That’s just a technicality, though—the most important thing to know about acacia honey is that it boasts an oh-so sweet, unadulterated honey flavor with floral notes that are just barely there. Acacia honey is light amber in color and very slow to crystallize, meaning it stays in liquid form longer than most other types of honey. It also shares all the usual health benefits associated with honey, plus one—namely, strong antibacterial properties that make it useful in treating or preventing skin conditions such as acne.

7. Manuka honey

Manuka honey comes from the tea tree bush, and much like tea tree oil, is favored for its potent antibacterial action—so much so that the FDA has actually approved this type of honey for the treatment of wounds. (Crazy, right?) This very property also explains why manuka honey is often recommended as a homeopathic means of maintaining good oral hygiene, among other things. The bad news is that manuka honey has a rather astringent taste, so it might not be your cup of tea (so to speak).

8. Tupelo honey

Sinfully sweet tupelo honey is a light amber honey produced in the swamps of Florida and Georgia. Mild, buttery and smooth, tupelo honey is basically the creme de la creme. Alas, its harvest season is brief and the process laborious, so this very special type of honey will cost you a pretty penny. In terms of health benefits, this one has the standard antioxidant and antibacterial qualities of any kind of honey, but chances are you’ll want to set your jar of tupelo aside for special occasions and look elsewhere for a daily indulgence.

9. Buckwheat honey

Buckwheat honey, which is produced widely in the northern United States and parts of Canada, is best known for its intense, bold flavor (and deep color to match). This one can be used as a marinade for meats—even gamey ones—or really any other time you want some honey that really packs a punch. Buckwheat honey also does a bang-up job of treating certain types of infections, due to its powerful antibacterial properties, and it’s rich in health-boosting antioxidants to boot.

10. Sage honey

California produces most of the country’s sage honey, but it isn’t hard to find no matter where you live. In fact, many generic grocery store honeys feature sage honey in the mix—namely because it’s very slow to solidify and can help keep things moving when blended with other types of honey that are prone to quick crystallization. On its own, sage honey is light colored and mild tasting. In other words, it’s pleasant and versatile (if not somewhat unremarkable).

11. Eucalyptus honey

It should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with eucalyptus that this honey—originally from Australia but produced stateside, too—is distinguished by its slight menthol flavor. As such, it tastes herbal and slightly astringent...but in a medicinal sort of way that you’d welcome if, say, you came down with a cold. As a matter of fact, eucalyptus honey is a go-to homeopathic remedy for any sickness that involves congestion, cough and sore throat.

12. Sourwood honey

This American honey gets its name from the sourwood trees of the Southeast and Midwestern United States...and it’s not the least bit sour. On the contrary, this rich amber honey tastes a lot like caramel: Sweet, mild and buttery with just a nip of spice on the finish. Spread it on toast or biscuits, drizzle it on ice cream or eat it by the spoonful. (We won’t tell). 

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