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Honey connoisseurs...

Recently, I read a post here about Leatherwood Honey that intrigued me, so I went out and got me some. Really, really delicious stuff. Nuanced, layers of flavor, exotic, ambrosial. Pricey, too, but worth it.
Occasionally, I like to take a spoon of a really good honey as a treat, all by itself. Some honeys, like the Leatherwood, are as delicious in their complexity as great red wines.
I was wondering if anyone else out there seeks out specialty honey's, and would they share about them.

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  1. Whenever I travel I try to bring home at least one local honey as a souvenir -- the gift to myself that keeps on giving. A couple that have really stood out were a chestnut honey from Tuscany (which I didn't get myself, but my daughter brought home for me -- thanks, kid!) -- deeply sweet with a little bit of a bitter undertone, dark and heavy; and a honey I bought at the Chieso di San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, made from the flowers of a plant that grows in a salt marsh on the island where the church is located -- almost black in color, not terribly sweet, probably the most interesting-tasting honey I've ever had. Amazing stuff, honey.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ozhead

      I was a beekeeper for about 6 years or so, (in central PA) and it always amazed me how the flavours of the honey from my own bees varied so widely from year to year, and of course, depending on the time of season and what was in bloom. Generally, I could never be completely sure what the bees were going after in terms of nectar sources, but some honeys that we extracted were absolutely delicious with a rich, almost buttery quality and subtle undertones of vanilla and other interesting elements. Other times, we ran into some really not so wonderful honeys. Not inedible, but probably best suited for baking or something where the flavour of the honey is not necessarily in the forefront.
      I can't say I have sampled many of the world's unique honeys, but the variety available from US sources alone (individual beekeepers, not mass bottlers!) makes me quite curious to continue sampling, and try some more exotic things, chestnut honey, white pine honey (actually a honeydew honey) and heather honey, to name a few.

      1. re: ozhead

        I've also brought honey back as a souvenir (just remember to pack it carefully!). I brought chesnut honey back from Italy as well, and when I visit my family in England, there's an apiary near my aunt's house that sells local honey. I wish I'd run across that salt marsh honey when I was in Venice (so many churches, so little time!).

        Marshall's in Napa is fabulous -- they've been selling at Bay Area farmers' markets for years, and tasting their range of honeys really opened up my eyes to how different honeys can be. They sell dozens of honeys from hives all over Northern California. Visiting their farm is a real trip -- there's a thread about it on the Bay Area board this week.

        There are some other local honey producers at Bay Area farmers' markets -- Snyders Honey from La Honda has some interesting honeys. The one I bought was Tanbark Oak Honey -- it's a delicious medium-weight honey with a lovely reddish amber color. Tanbark oak is a Pacific coastal forest species, and isn't really an oak at all -- it's actually related to the chestnut.

        1. re: ozhead

          I'll never forget the foret (forest) honey I bought by the side of the road on the way to (or was it from?) Avignon in France. It took the experience of honey way beyond anything I had ever tasted. I treasured it and horded it, but it is long gone except in memory. Going to Tuscany next month and I hope to make another amazing discovery.

        2. Hubby is a big fan of Tupelo Honey which is only available once a year and is only produced in the Southeastern US. I find it very delictae and floral.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Honey Bee

            Tupelo is my favorite also! It is mostly produced in the Florida Panhandle (Appalachicola river basin) where the majority of the White Tupelo trees are located in the river and swamp areas.

            If you like Tupelo, then suggest you try Sourwood.

          2. I'm a honey lover too - I make a point to buy it where ever I travel, if it's someplace that seems like it may have good honey.

            Was in Napa recently at Ad Hoc restauarant (Thomas Keller's new place) where they served an amazing honey as part of the cheese course. I wouldn't let them take the dish of honey away from me until I'd licked it clean. I asked where they got it from and they told me it was from a local honey guy, Marshall's Farm and that the small grocer down the street carried it.

            As soon as we were finished with dinner, we headed to the store, which was thankfully still open. They only had 2 jars left and we scooped them up. It's their Napa Valley Wildflower - intense, rather on the dark side and when you get it in the jar, it's kind of thick, unfiltered and there is pollen still in it so it has a grainy texture. You need to warm it up to use it in recipes or spoon over other foods. But, truthfully I've been just eating spoonfuls of it as is :-)

            They have a lot of other varieties and some other people on the CA board have tried many of them and rave about all of them

            Thankfully, they are online so I won't have to fly out to CA to stock up again:


            1 Reply
            1. re: sivyaleah

              I'm so glad that I stumbled upon this thread! I was sitting back having a cup of tea and I read your post. I can't fathom what made me run to my cupboard. But lo and behold my favorite Orange Blossom honey was made by Marshall's Farm. I love orange teas and the honey definitely kicks it up a notch! Thank you for posting the url. I will definitely be purchasing more from them.

            2. Howboy - if you still have some Leatherwood Honey, you should try using it in this Wholefoods recipe for Chinese 5 Spice and Honey Roasted Chicken. I have made it several times with Leatherwood honey and the flavor is addictive.


              I bought the honey after reading an article about it in Gourmet and am now day dreaming about a trip to Tasmania to see the Leatherwood forests. Wow is that good stuff.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ExercisetoEat

                Thanks for the tip, I'm looking for a good recipe to make this weekend...

              2. I am also a honey nut, bring it back from everywhere I go. My favourite was a buckwheat honey that I found in Ontario in the mid 70s. I will never forget the flavour and smell. I managed to find some recently in florida and it isn't quite the same.

                1. Two of the best honeys I've ever had come from right here in the Charleston area. One is a marsh flower honey, very winey and floral, dark and intense. The other is a very dark wildflower honey (presumably, since it doesn't identify any particular flower) that tastes like the love child of honey and molasses but is less bitter than both. Wonderful stuff.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Low Country Jon

                    Is there a specific company where you get your marsh flower honey?

                    1. re: WCchopper

                      The marsh flower honey is collected by Kennerty Farms. You can find it at the Charleston Cooks store on East Bay Street, and Kennerty also sells it at their stand at the Marion Square farmer's market. Get the dark honey.

                      The wildflower honey is collected by R.H. Biggerstaff, and you can find it at various locations in the Lowcountry, including Boone Hall Farms. Again, get the darkest version you can find.

                  2. I'm gonna check that out, sounds great! I've been really enjoying a couple honeys I got from the Savannah bee company -- a Tupelo that I've been using as a sweet component to my barbecue baby back ribs, and a Black Sage that blows me away all by itself! I've been using that one to make Lemonade!

                    Savannah Bee Co
                    2604 Causton Bluff Rd, Savannah, GA 31404

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: 23travis

                      Travis, I had read your post last night, and while in a newly built Crate & Barrel today, what did I find (and buy?). A sampler pack of 4 Savannah Bee Co. honeys - tupelo, orange blossom, raspberry, and black sage. I wouldn't have purchased them if I hadn't read your rave about the black sage - so thanks! Now....how to use them? LOL

                    2. it seems tupelo honey ( as rare as it's alleged to be) is EVERYWHERE!! almost as prevelant as clover or orange blossom....it really makes me wonder. i bought a rather large jar of "tupelo" over a year ago, and while it's delicious i now doubt it's origins. how can one be sure?

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: spinach

                        If it crystalizes, it isn't tupelo...it's the only honey that doesn't.


                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          why would that be, from a scientific standpoint, if you know?

                          1. re: alkapal

                            It has to do with the relatively high fructose content somehow.


                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              wouldn't all honeys have a similar fructose level? i'm just assuming.....

                              1. re: alkapal

                                Apparently they don't. http://scienceline.org/2007/04/09/ask... According one of the articles in this link, the moisture level also is a factor.


                      2. My favorite is Sourwood honey from the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: bkhuna

                          Sourwood is good. I have a jar that a friend gave me from the mountains of Ga. I am partial to orange blossom honey. I really taste the orange blossoms and being from Fla. the smell of orange blossoms in the air in spring is intoxicating.

                          1. re: scubadoo97

                            I love orange blossom honey! It's fragrance is fraught with nostalgia.

                        2. my fave local honey is single-source, from hives on a melon farm. there is a clean melon finish after the warm honey taste which is absolutely fantastic. i'm glad i bought a bunch, as it seemed to get super popular and hard to find.

                          1. My favorites are Questa from New Mexico, then orange blossom from Florida. I have a big jar of Sourwood, but I find it to have an aftertaste that is almost molasses or tar-like.
                            We all hear on the news about the disappearance of honeybees for reasons still largely unknown; it it affecting honey availability or pricing, to anyone's knowledge?

                            1. Don't die from jealousy or anything, but right now I have 8 dozen frames of Sourwood honey in my kitchen- each dozen in a super, inside a plastic garbage bag. I harvested yesterday, and will extract this weekend. Sourwood honey is wonderful. I have hives in 3 different areas in the county, and all differ oh so slightly.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: cheesemonger

                                It's not fair that some folks get both sourwood honey AND decent barbecue all in the same region. Not fair at all.

                                1. re: bkhuna


                                  There are many plusses, but there are minuses also. The complete lack of ethnic diversity in the food (and the people) are a big downside.

                                  We are extracting this weekend, and I'm doing the lamb leg with the directions you sent tomorrow night- I will let you know how that goes in the appropriate thread.

                              2. I'm so pleased this thread got revived since I missed it the first time around. I'm not a honey afficionado by a long shot, but I do tend to bring back foods from my travels. Earlier this year I brought back some pine honey from Turkey. I haven't even tried it yet because although the idea seemed appealing there, it seems less so here. What do you all do with some of these more exotic honeys? How would one sample or partner it to show off its advantages (assuming it has any)?

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: JoanN

                                  Cheese seems to be a pretty popular pairing. I like honey with apples, too.

                                  1. re: spellweaver16

                                    Rosh Hashana! Apples and Honey for a Sweet New Year.

                                  2. re: JoanN

                                    plain yogurt
                                    straight out of the jar. ;)
                                    on toast
                                    over ice cream?

                                    But I agree cheese is really the best.

                                    1. re: notmartha

                                      Oh gosh, how about with oranges and plain yogurt? That has an incredible taste. A fourth taste.

                                      1. re: KateC.

                                        Oranges? Hum, have to try that. My breakfast staple is plain yogurt, drizzle of honey, granola, berries and a few pieces of pecan praline. But I can subsitute oranges or tangerines...

                                  3. When I lived in Maryland, one dark, dusky, leather-and-smoke honey was from Tulip Poplars. My spouse at the time and I had a honey cellar, with all sorts of specialty honeys from around the world, brought back from our various travels.

                                    Now I live in the midwest, with one of the nation's premier honey farms.


                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Loren3

                                      Wow, tulip poplar sounds really interesting! I'm fascinated! How would you consume that one to appreciate it best?

                                      1. re: WCchopper

                                        Drizzled on fresh, hot, steaming drop biscuits! Yummy!

                                    2. Coffee blossom honey from highland Chaipas!

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                        oooooo, tell us about that flavor, Sam, please.

                                        1. re: alkapal

                                          Moderately sweet plus quite a bit of perfume--similar to the coffee blossoms (which I find recognizable but hard to describe). My batch has quite a bit of wax, being centrifuged at home by a coffee grower and packed in a recycled plastic water bottle.

                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                            Sam, is there any coffee aroma at all? ( i don't know anything about coffee blossoms.) but orange blossoms have an orange-like scent.....so orange blossom honey gets that scent, too.

                                            nice to have local honey.....

                                            1. re: alkapal

                                              That's the thing: the honey smells and tastes like the blossoms; but hte blossoms don't smell or taste like coffee.

                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                As one who roast green coffee beans as a hobby I can tell you coffee gets it's taste from being roasted. Even the roasting smoke smells nothing like coffee so I would assume the honey would be some what floral like what ever the blossom smells like. I find orange blossoms have a jasmine like smell.

                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                  I bought some coffee blossom honey recently in Hawaii. I think it does have a faint coffee flavor on the finish. Regardless, it's a delicious honey almost as dark as molasses. I also brought some palm blossom honey back from Hawaii. I have at least half a dozen different honeys in the cupboard.

                                          2. New Zealand Manuka honey. As well as being delicious, it's great for putting on cuts and grazes. Heals 'em up in no time. Many Australian hospitals use it in their burns wards.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: purple goddess

                                              I think science has much more to learn from the only organic product that lasts forever. Aside from deliciousness, there are medicinal unknowns begging to be unraveled.

                                            2. My current favorite is Blue Borage from New Zealand. I like the flavor best with bread or mild cheese. The delicacy gets lost in tea (for me). Best - just a spoonful on it's own!

                                              1. I definitely buy more than I can consume.

                                                Got a couple of jars of Marshall's Farm while in SF. The wildflower honey was great, as was the pumpkin blossom honey (which did taste like its namesake).

                                                From Hawaii the white honey from Volcano Island.

                                                Also get local honey from farmer's market that I visit - Santa Barbara, Ojai... I liked the 'molasses' honey from my local farmer's market. It's dark like molasses, and tastes like molasses. Great w/ granola, unsweetened plain yogurt and berries for breakfast everyday.

                                                From Italy it's truffle honey, and honey from Switzerland as well (haven't open those yet).

                                                I don't know if it actually works, but was told that some honey from a local source everyday helps with allergies.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: notmartha

                                                  Where did you get the Marshall's Farm? Are they in the Ferry Terminal?

                                                  1. re: WCchopper

                                                    They have a stand at the Farmer's Market right in front of the Ferry Terminal (went to one on Saturday). They also have a website with store listings:


                                                2. I was surfing the other night and found this Hawaiian Organic White Honey. I've never had much interest in honey but have to say this sounded yummy.

                                                  Rare Hawaiian White honey has a unique taste, texture and color. The taste of Hawaiian White honey is hard to describe because it is incomparable- unlike any other honey. In fact, most people who first try it think that something rich has been added to it, like butter.

                                                  Unlike most honeys, Rare Hawaiian White Honey has a deliciously, delicate tropical flavor and a texture that is naturally thick, soft and smooth-a delight to the palate and tongue. This creamy opalescent honey floats off your tongue leaving you to savor its subtle, yet rich, tropical essence. National Geographic Traveler Magazine calls it "some of the best honey in the world". It is a single floral source, unheated, and certified organic honey.

                                                  Rare Hawaiian Organic White Honey is pure Kiawe (key-ah-vay) honey. It is a honey so delicate that it must be handled in a very meticulous and exact manner in order to preserve its natural excellence. Any mishandling can radically affect its color, flavor and texture and its nutritional qualities.

                                                  This honey is rare because it only comes from the flowers the Kiawe tree in a grove on the leeward side of the Big Island of Hawaii. These trees grow sparsely at sea level in near desert conditions. The flowers of the Kiawe tree are among the most prolific producers.


                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Axalady

                                                    That's the one I got. Pricey but worth it. It's very, very delicate though, so to put it into tea is a waste. Best spread on top of just toasted bread and enjoy.


                                                    We got a box of Vosges chocolate with this honey a couple of Xmas ago (only available in December), and the chocolate overwhelmed the honey.


                                                    1. re: notmartha

                                                      My husband is a real Winnie the Pooh so we pick up honey everywhere we go. We have about 7 or 8 jars in the cabinet right now.
                                                      We were in Hawaii a few days ago and saw the Rare Hawaiian organic white honey from volcano island honey, and I have to say one of the best honeys we have ever perchased. it is very pricey at around 20 for an 8oz jar, however it is well worth it.
                                                      We also really like the a wildflower honey made by Doug's Honey from Inverhaugh Ontario. We purchased it at the General Store in Elora ontario. It's reminicent of the honey you would have had as a child , sweet and slightly crystalized.

                                                  2. I plan to add some more honey to my pantry. What can I say, this thread inspired me! I've been considering lavender but I'm uncertain how it could be used. I'd appreciate your feedback.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: gabby29

                                                      Just found this post! I asked my husband to buy me some relatively hard to find Italian Acacia Honey. They have it at Target they say but.... Anyway, when in Venice we had some Pecorino with this honey and OH MY!!!! Wondereful!!!! Our guide said that it HAD to be Acacia honey. The next night we had some cheeses on our balcony with olives and honey. The honey was a dark color and the Pecorino was not as good with this honey so I guess she was right. Having guests and guess I will order this off the "net" . Linda

                                                    2. I LOVE NapaStyle's Lavender Honey. It's so fragrant, floral, and brings a great flowery note to everything you add it too. I know lavender honey is no big revelation, but this one is worth noting. So wonderful in tea. NapaStyle is Michael Chiarello's brand. www.napastyle.com

                                                      And I'm going to Paris next year and can't wait to go to the Maison du Miel (House of Honey). I've heard great things about that place. Anyone been?...

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: VirgoBlue

                                                        Yes. I may even have a few small jars of the honey in my pantry still.

                                                        I remembered it was good, but not mind blowing. But then I was young and poor and wasn't that discriminating. Guess I'll have to hunt for those jars and see.

                                                      2. My favorite, which I haven't seen mentioned in this thread, is linden or basswood honey. I first discovered it in Toronto, where I noticed a sign in the window of a Hungarian grocers saying something like "Linden Honey is in!" Since I love linden trees and their fragrance when they're in bloom, I was intrigued, so on a whim I went in and bought a jar. Wow! I loved it - light-colored and delicate, but intensely floral and slightly spicy.

                                                        Since then I've tried Italian, German, and American linden honeys (American ones are usually sold as basswood honey - it's the same tree), as well as some I found in a Boston-area Russian store - I think that one might have been Estonian. They vary quite a bit in color and consistency, but I love them all.

                                                        1. I have come a full 180 degrees (or is it 360 degrees) with honey. I used to hate it as a child. But it was b/c my parents bought the ubiquitous super-market kind. A few years ago, I tried it at a farmer's market, and I felt like I had a honey epiphany. I think the leatherwoods and the buckwheat and the tanbarks are really deep and have a wonderful rich flavor.

                                                          On the other end of the spectrum, for something more light and perfumey, I love sage honey. What do I eat it with, when I'm not eating it straight out of the container with a spoon?

                                                          My favorite is really good ricotta. Greek yogurt is also good, too. In the summer, I stuff figs with ricotta and then drizzle sage honey over it.

                                                          I put it in my steel cut oats sometimes.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: anzu

                                                            I have always liked honey but in the past few years have come to realize how much more honey truly is. It is used to heal burns, help with colds, the flu, skin conditions, and right on up to helping fight cancers.

                                                            If you want to truly enjoy a "Honey Feast" as we call them, try baking some drop or tea biscuits (use butter instead of lard or olive oil instead of cooking oil) along with a plain pound cake or an angel food cake. The guys seem to love gouda cheese, especially baby gouda and mozzarella cheeses with their honey. I usually put out a plate of light tasting fresh sectioned fruits like honeydew melon, cubed pineapple, cantaloupe, snow apples and peaches. We end up having a brunch of cakes and/or biscuits, cheeses, fruit and all the different honeys that everyone brings. We have not tried the Leatherwood yet but I am going to get some real soon. We all live in southern ontario where honey farms are plentiful and so are gourmet food stores. We've tried numerous wildflower and lavender blends as well as buckwheat, red clover, white clover, flavored honeys, orange blossom, pumpkin, raspberry, blueberry, and an alaskan honey. We all really love our honey and we are finding that since we have been eating soooooo much honey that our health overall has inproved.

                                                            One of the ladies made blinis once for our brunch and that brought rave reviews since the delicateness of our honeys was emphasized by the blinis. We have even made various types of meals using honey and the wierdest one ---- one of the guys made chili with honey in it! The chili was good but I think it was a waste of good honey!

                                                            So have a ball and see what your imagination can come up with to search out a "Honey of a Good Time".

                                                            1. re: Denim

                                                              A few of my own favorites (both past (i.e. havent seen them recently) and present

                                                              Macadamia honey (from Hawaii)- great sutff sorta nutty in flavor deepy satisfying

                                                              Wild Oak honey (from Spain)-also great

                                                              Krokees fir honey (from greece)-one of the few pine/fir honey I actually like, and I still like it even when if found out exacty how the bees get nectar from aplant with no flowers (basically the drink the "honeydew" (called "sapin") from the aphids who feed on the trees sap

                                                              I've never had it but I have also hears of corbolezza honey from the arbutus (strawberry tree). Soppsedly it is bitter honey

                                                              Also a note avoid the afican jungle honey sold at Whole Foods, tastes awful.

                                                              And a final caveat to the truly adventurous, one of my Colledge professors said that it best to be very careful with wild honey in paces like S.America. Apprently the Amazon contains some plants whose nectar when made into honey causes liver damage.

                                                          2. I'm quite surprised no one mentioned Sidr honey from Yemen which is probably some of the best and most expensive in the world.
                                                            Yemen is almost all about honey, and I enjoyed some wonderful honey from Oman too which had a wonderful not too sweet and slightly fermented flavour, good stuff.