Don’t be surprised if I tell you that there are more than 300 honey varieties – which also means different flavors – and only in the US alone, there are hundreds of them. Some have stronger tastes than others, some are milder and more delicate. You can even find honey that has a fruity taste! 🙂
In general, honey that is light in color has a mild flavor and the ones with a darker color usually have a strong flavor. Experienced honey tasters can easily tell the differences between different honey varieties, although for some people it can be hard to tell one variety from another.
The main reason for a large number of honey varieties is the different types of the nectar source. Different honey varieties also mean different flavors and aroma. Bees visit many kinds of plants and flowers, getting different qualities of nectar from these flowers.
Now let’s look at some of the common honey varieties:
Clover honey is probably described as the classic honey taste. Its sweet, mild flavor and aroma make it the most popular honey in America. There are different types of clovers though, namely the red clover, white clover and sweet clover. The color of clover honey can range from water white to amber, depending on the type of clover.
Many people think that avocado honey has a very strong flavor because of its dark amber color, but this variety of honey that comes from avocado blossoms in California actually has a mild and buttery taste. It is also rich in vitamins and minerals.
Orange blossom honey
Just like its name, the orange blossom honey actually as a fruity, light citrus taste and a mild aroma with a light golden or orange color. Its source is a combination of citrus trees that grow in California, Florida, Arizona and some parts of Texas, usually around March and early April when the trees begin to blossom.
This world-famous honey originates from Florida, one of the six honey-producing states in the US. Tupelo honey is obtained from the Tupelo tree that grows along the river and in swamps. I find that the way this honey is produced to be quite unique. The beekeepers float their hives on platforms above the water and the bees fly out from the Tupelo flowers, returning to the hives. Another special characteristic that differentiates this honey from other honey varieties is that it will not crystallize due to its high fructose content.
The term wildflower in this honey variety refers to its multi floral sources. So you may find the flavor ‘changing’, or different than the one you previously tasted. You can find both flowing and creamed wildflower honey, with colors varying from light amber to dark amber. The taste is not as sweet as clover honey, but it is an excellent choice for cooking because of its distinct flavor.
The popularity of buckwheat honey is probably due to its very dark color and its bold, robust flavor and aroma. Its color is usually dark amber. The thick, buckwheat honey was traditionally used in French spice-bread or gingerbread since it helps to keep them moist. Those who are used to light, mild flavored honey may not appreciate the strong flavor or buckwheat honey. Compared to other honey varieties, buckwheat honey is extremely sensitive to heating. The production of buckwheat honey is largely influenced by the weather, and the best time for nectar production is in cool, moist conditions at the flowering time.
The light colored and mild flavored sage honey comes in different varieties: black button, purple sage, white sage and other varietals. This flowing honey variety can have a light color – almost water-white – or dark golden color, has a tender aroma and with a pleasantly sweet, mild flavor, pretty much like clover honey. Sage honey takes quite long to crystallize. It is known to be useful in treating cough and heart diseases.
So what does eucalyptus honey, koalas and kangaroos have in common? Their origin! Eucalyptus honey originates from Australia. Produced from a diverse group of plants, eucalyptus honey varies in color and flavor (usually reddish-brown) and many people describe this honey to be slightly spicy and pungent. Despite its unpleasant flavor, eucalyptus honey is used widely in medicine especially to treat lung tuberculosis and throat ailments.
Alfalfa honey has a light color with a pleasant and slightly minty taste. This type of honey is extensively produced in the US, and the alfalfa crop is usually grown in the same localities as sweet clover. One thing that I guess many people don’t know is that the combination of sweet clover and alfalfa mixed together gives a fine product and is usually put at a high price in the market.
Just as the name implies, sourwood honey has a slightly sour taste. Some describe sourwood honey to have a mild and fine taste. The color is usually clear or light yellow, but sourwood honey that is harvested in eastern North Carolina has a blue-purple color. It originates from the sourwood or sorrel tree that is found throughout the southeastern United States, especially Mississipi River and south of Pennsylvania. One appealing characteristic of the sourwood tree is its flowers. The Appalachian people are extremely fond of this honey variety.