One food that’s both tasty and healthy is honey. Depending on the flowers the bees decide to feed on, the honey changes in taste and texture. It can be earthy, intensely sweet, golden-hued, or creamy… Rich in Hydrogen Peroxide, honey has spectacular antibacterial properties. New Zealand is home to the most popular honey of all, the Manuka Honey. But the ‘land of the long white cloud’ is also home to several other honey varieties that are equally delicious and good for health. Here is a rundown of all the best options of New Zealand honey.
1. Manuka Honey
Bees feed on the nectar from the pinkish-white flowers that grow in abundance on the Manuka shrubs (also called tea tree, or Leptospermum scoparium). The honey is delicious, with a creamy texture that’s not hard to notice. But the reason it is so popular is because of its healing, and antibacterial properties. Yep, it’s touted as the magic potion that you need to get rid of those adamant acne and scars. WebMD also attests to its wide use in relieving cough and digestive issues. If you are rushing to buy a bottle, look for the UMF number or the Unique Manuka Factor – which is an indicator of the honey’s healing power. The higher the number, the better.
2. Kanuka Honey
Not many know about Manuka’s less popular cousin Kanuka, is yet another honey native to New Zealand. The honey is derived from Kanuka flowers which, like Manuka, belong to the tea tree family. The honey is sweet and smooth and is an excellent lotion for your skin troubles – thanks to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. While, on one hand, you can sweeten your evening tea with several spoonfuls of Kanuka, on the other, you can use it to treat conditions such as cold sores and herpes, as mentioned on the website of BeeNZ, a company that sells New Zealand honey. If you want a honey that would remind you of butterscotch and flowers, go for this one.
3. Clover Honey
Clover honey can be your new fruit jam. Available in creamed form, this subtly sweet, light, and floral-tasting honey can be your bread’s new best friend. Also available in creamed form besides liquid, this is great as a spread on baked products. It’s made by hard-working bees that feed on the flowers of the very resilient legume called white clover which grows rampantly in the South Island. This honey is one of the best alternatives for your sweeteners. It’s loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, besides many essential vitamins and minerals.
4. Pohutukawa Honey
This honey tastes like a celebration in the mouth. Quite literally so, for, it’s made from the flowers of what’s called New Zealand Christmas Tree. The tree’s real name is Pohutukawa though; it’s called ‘Christmas tree’ because it blooms only during the festival season — which is the beginning of summer for New Zealanders. Bees have a very small window to suck the nectar out of the short-lived scarlet red flowers, but the result is surprisingly pale-colored honey – unlike any other honey found in New Zealand – that’s creamy, super sweet, with a floral hint to it. You will also taste a subtle saltiness to the honey. This is because the Pohutukawa trees grow along the coastline, exposed to the spray of salty ocean water.
5. Rata Honey
This honey is thick, creamy, and perfect to drizzle over a bowl of berries. Not overly sweet, it has a smooth and subtle flavor that makes it a perfect addition to your cheese-filled charcuterie board. What makes this honey a unique one is its rarity. It is derived from flowers that grow on Rata trees on the West Coast of New Zealand. These trees bloom only once in two years between the months of January and March. The honey has an intense aroma, and like any other honey, is full of minerals and vitamins that are good for health.
6. Rewarewa Honey
This honey is sweet with a unique floral scent that comes from the flowers of the Rewarewa tree – also known as honeysuckle – that bloom in the months of November and December. Rewarewa honey is reddish amber in color and makes for a striking marinade or ingredient in savory dishes. Add a spoonful to water to make a refreshing powerhouse of a beverage. The honey, research has shown, has antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties. Back in the day, the native people had recognized its healing properties and used the bark of the tree as a bandage on wounds.
7. Tawari Honey
This is rare honey, and it is from the nectar of the flowers of the Tawari trees — the only species that are left in its genus. The Tawari trees are unique to New Zealand and only found in certain regions of the North, and they bloom from October to December. The flowers are beautiful pearl white, and as it turns out, used to be sewn into garlands back in the day. Tawari honey has a smooth, light, butterscotch-like flavor that makes it the best choice to drizzle over fruits or roasted nuts, and as fillings.
8. Thyme Honey
Thyme as a herb is common, but thyme honey? If you are even a little curious, go ahead and taste it. This is nothing like the other New Zealand honey varieties. Having been derived from a herb like thyme, which grows in the Otago Mountains of the South Island, the honey has a distinct herbal aroma. This species of thyme, as history goes, was not native to New Zealand, but was introduced to the islands by Chinese miners in the 19th century. The honey from the violet flowers of the herb that belongs to the mint family, is surprisingly, intensely sweet. It has a strong flavor and a golden hue. It works wonderfully as a marinade or as an accompaniment with strong-flavored cheeses because of its intense taste and thick texture. Above all, it is loaded with antioxidants.
9. Honeydew Honey
This honey stands out from the rest as, unlike any other, it is not from a flower! In the deep beech forests of the South Island, tiny bugs called aphids suck on the sap of the trees and produce drops of ‘honeydew’ which then our busy bees feed on to produce a delicious amber-colored honey. This honey has a certain earthy taste that’s very unique to it and can be used in salads and desserts, or to give that malty pairing to cheeses. According to the company, The Beekeeper’s Honey, this particular honey has a higher amount of antioxidants compared to ones derived from flowers.
10. Kamahi Honey
Kamahi trees are common in New Zealand, but the honey from them is still not popular. For a long time, Kamahi honey was considered below par because it tasted bitter. This is because the areas where Kamahi trees grew also saw a dense growth of another species of trees called Quintinia, which has bitter nectar. But now, beekeepers go the extra mile to ensure they keep their beehives in areas that do not have many of the Quintinia trees. The Kamahi honey has a caramel taste, and is quite intense, making it the perfect ingredient for savory dishes, and also as a sweetener for coffee. This creamy honey has a golden color, and research shows that it has more nutrients and is better for your health than the more popularly known Manuka.
What’s your pick going to be?