Although our Plum Deluxe tea mugs might suggest otherwise, honey is one of the best sweeteners for a cup of tea, baked goods, or pairing with cheeses and charcuterie.
But, don’t reach for that plastic honey bear on your grocery shelf — there’s a reason why it’s so cheap it seems too good to be true. Filtered and processed, many of those honeys aren’t even really honey; instead, they’re full of fillers, antibiotics, and trace heavy metals. That bear isn’t sounding so cute, eh?
Instead of buying this “fake” honey, choose purveyors who are more transparent about where they get their honey. There are currently no requirements when manufacturers use the words “raw” or “pure,” so don’t trust the label. Instead, choose to purchase your honey from companies where you can learn more about them and how they produce.
To help you get started, here are four artisanal honeys that we love.
1. Savannah Bee Company
Savannah Bee is the only company so far to produce a honey blend that is specific for tea — we’re loving that! They also have grilling honey, cheese honey, and a variety of other honey products (did you know honey is amazing for your skin?). Based in Savannah, we can’t help but love the down-home-southern feel of their products and their attention to sourcing, blending, and crafting the perfect honeys for every occasion.
2. Honey Ridge Farms
Honey “cream” is not honey with creamer in it; creamed honey is made in a specific process to produce a creamy, smooth honey that is easier to spread and enjoy on other products, like toast, crackers, etc. Honey Ridge Farms produces a huge variety of cream honeys, from simple lemon and apricot to a delightful spiced honey. These flavors are so bright and fresh, you almost want to just eat the honey without a beverage or food pairing! They do pair nicely with foods, though; the Honey Ridge website features a variety of recipes and ideas for your next happy hour or dinner party.
3. Taste Artisanal Market
If you’re looking for a honey infusion, look no further than West Chester, Pennsylvania-based Taste Artisanal Market. Their selection is small but well-curated, including flavors such as lemon walnut, chai (yum!), and lavender. We love that they use quality organic ingredients for their flavorings and they experiment heavily with their pairings. You would be correct in guessing that these honeys are fantastic for cheese & honey pairings (Taste’s site includes recommendations on which infusions pair with which cheeses).
Based in Portland, Oregon, the founder of Beelocal has big plans (and perhaps even bigger after his recent partnership/merger with another local Portland purveyor). What makes Beelocal interesting is that the company sets up partnerships with small beehives atop hotels, tucked behind parks, and in farms and household back yards; the names of the honeys reflect the location they were sourced from. I’ve been to a tasting of his honeys and the differences in the flavors of different honeys is incredible!
These honeys are a far cry from that sad honey bear in your supermarket, and once you experience the different flavor profiles, you’ll be very grateful for those hard working honeybees and their unique creations.
Images all courtesy of the featured purveyors.