Honey, nature’s golden treasure, is known for its incredible taste, potential health benefits, and delightful versatility. However, not all honey is created equal. Depending on the floral source from which bees collect nectar, honey varies in flavor, texture, and beneficial properties.
New Zealand, fondly referred to as ‘the land of the long white cloud,’ is renowned for its diverse range of honey, the most famous being Manuka Honey. Here, we’re going to explore six varied and exceptional honey types native to New Zealand that are not just tantalizing to the taste buds but also beneficial for your health.
1. Manuka Honey
Starting with the star of the show, Manuka Honey, it’s a product of bees that feast on nectar from the pinkish-white blossoms of Manuka shrubs (also known as tea tree or Leptospermum scoparium). What separates Manuka Honey from the rest is its unique creamy texture and profound healing qualities. Indeed, it’s often touted as the “magic potion” for stubborn acne and scars. Its extensive usage in managing cough and digestive issues is well documented by reliable sources such as WebMD. If you’re considering adding Manuka Honey to your pantry, look for the UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) number an indicator of its healing potency. Remember, the higher the UMF, the better!
2. Kanuka Honey
Next up, we have the lesser-known cousin of Manuka, Kanuka Honey. It owes its existence to the dedicated bees that forage the nectar from Kanuka flowers, relatives of the tea tree species. Kanuka Honey is characterized by its smooth, sweet taste, reminiscent of butterscotch and floral notes. It also scores high on the wellness scale with potent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a superb natural remedy for skin concerns and conditions like cold sores and herpes. These claims are backed by trustworthy organizations such as BeeNZ, a New Zealand honey retailer.
3. Clover Honey
Clover Honey, sourced from the flowers of the resilient white clover legume, offers a subtle sweetness, lightness, and floral taste, making it an ideal fruit jam replacement. Available in both liquid and creamed forms, this honey makes a great spread on baked goods. 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. Rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and essential vitamins and minerals, clover honey is a fantastic alternative sweetener.
4. Pohutukawa Honey
Produced from the flowers of the New Zealand Christmas Tree (Pohutukawa), this honey truly tastes like a celebration in your mouth. With a very limited window for bees to extract nectar from the short-lived red flowers, Pohutukawa Honey is incredibly unique. Enjoy its pale color, creamy texture, sweetness, and floral hints along with a subtle saltiness derived from the tree’s coastal habitat and exposure to ocean spray.
5. Rata Honey
This honey possesses a thick, creamy consistency, making it perfect to drizzle over a bowl of fresh berries. It’s smoothly subtle in flavor, not overly sweet— an ideal complement to a cheese-filled charcuterie board. The uniqueness of this honey originates from its rarity, being derived from blossoms found on Rata trees on the West Coast of New Zealand. These trees uncharacteristically bloom only once every two years, specifically between the months of January and March. Not only does this honey possess an intense aroma, but like any other honey, it encapsulates a full range of minerals and vitamins that are beneficial 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. These flowers bloom in the months of November and December. Rewarewa honey is reddish amber in color and makes a striking marinade or ingredient in savory dishes. By adding a spoonful of water, you can create a refreshing, nutritious beverage. Research has shown that Rewarewa honey possesses antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties. In the past, native people recognized its healing qualities and used the bark of the tree as a bandage on wounds.
7. Tawari Honey
Tawari Honey, a rare variety, comes from the nectar of flowers on Tawari trees—the only remaining species of its genus. These unique trees are indigenous to certain regions of New Zealand’s North Island and bloom from October to December. Their beautiful pearl-white flowers were once used to create garlands. The honey itself has a smooth, light, and butterscotch-like flavor, making it an excellent choice for drizzling over fruits, roasted nuts, or as a filling in desserts.
8. Thyme Honey
While thyme is a common herb, Thyme Honey stands out with its distinct herbal aroma and surprising intensity of sweetness. Originating from thyme plants in the Otago Mountains of New Zealand’s South Island, this honey boasts a strong flavor and golden hue. Fascinatingly, the thyme species was introduced to the region by Chinese miners in the 19th century. Its high antioxidant content makes Thyme Honey a superb choice for marinades or as an accompaniment with strong-flavored cheeses.
9. Honeydew Honey
Honeydew Honey is unlike any other in that it is not derived from flowers. Instead, it comes from the honeydew of aphids in the deep beech forests of the South Island. These tiny insects feed on the tree sap, creating droplets of honeydew that bees then use to produce this delicious, amber-colored honey. Earthy and unique in flavor, Honeydew Honey can be used in salads, desserts, or to complement cheeses. The Beekeeper’s Honey company notes that this honey has a higher antioxidant content than those derived from flowers.
10. Kamahi Honey
Kamahi trees are prevalent in New Zealand, but the honey they produce is quite rare. Once deemed inferior due to its bitter taste, this issue has since been linked to the coexistence of the Quintinia tree, which yields bitter nectar. Nowadays, beekeepers choose to avoid areas with Quintinia trees, leading to an improved flavor profile for Kamahi Honey with a deliciously intense caramel taste. This golden, creamy honey is ideal not only for savory dishes but also as a coffee sweetener. Some research suggests that Kamahi Honey might be more nutrient-rich and beneficial to health than the more well-known Manuka.
What’s your pick going to be? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!