Field Trip: Honey Tasting Competition

You would never know how different honey can taste from hive to hive until you’ve tasted a few samples side by side. It’s astounding, really. The flavor profiles range from grassy to floral to fruity, just like a good wine or chocolate.

This past Sunday, beekeepers from all around submitted their honey for the Honeylove Honey Tasting Competition. There were jars sent from as far away as Nepal and as close by as our backyard. 17 samples in all, and believe me, we all left buzzed.

17 honey samples from around the world, ready for tasting.

17 honey samples from around the world, ready for tasting.

Grow Native Nursery in the Veterans Garden was our host for the honey tasting. Honeylovers were given ballots and a plate for samples.

Samples on a numbered plate. A sweet palette to be sure.

Samples on a numbered plate. A sweet palette to be sure.

The taste test was blind. No one knew the origin of the samples until the end. Color indicated a difference in flavor. Lighter honeys tended to be more floral whereas darker samples had more caramel and spicy flavors. Some were crystallized (still good, just a little grainy) while others were thin and clear. But these are bees we’re talking about. It’s anyone’s game.

Palate cleansers were on hand between tastes of honey.

Palate cleansers were on hand between tastes of honey.

Most people were quiet at first, not remarking on their experiences, just silently tasting each sample. Eventually, though, the crowd began sharing their favorites. “Oh, wow, #7 is amazing!” or “I can’t figure out what #13 taste like.” “Barn, it tastes like barn.”

Ballots trickled in and before the winners were revealed, jars were placed next to samples so we could see where each sample came from.

Ours was #17. Would we win?

Ours was #17. Would we win?

First place was a tie between #7, a light cinnamon-tinged honey from Colorado, and #16, a local beekeeper who calls her business One Strong Hive. Deep caramel flavors made this one a winner. She also makes solid perfume infused with honey, which she brought to share in honey comb-shaped boxes.

One True Hive ties for 1st.

One Strong Hive ties for 1st.

#7 came from Backyard Bee Hive in Aurora, Co. We wish we could figure out how the bees imparted cinnamon in this honey. It was truly amazing.

Our favorite in the taste test.

Our favorite in the taste test.

Second place was #4, D’arbo sunflower honey with caramel flavors. Third place was a tie between #3: Harry Stein‘s buttery whipped honey (a local Mar Vista Farmers’ Market vendor who lives in the San Fernando Valley) and #5: Sam Comfort’s honey from Anarchy Apiaries in New York, with strong orange blossom and banana flavors.

Sam Comfort and Harry Stein are professional beekeepers on opposite coasts.

Sam Comfort and Harry Stein are professional beekeepers on opposite coasts.

It was exciting to see where all the different honeys came from, and to be reminded once again that bees are incredible creatures, all working to produce something unique in the world.

Helping to spread the word about bees and their magic, Honeylove.org is big on social media.

Helping to spread the word about bees and their magic, Honeylove.org is big on social media.

Yay bees!

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One Response to Field Trip: Honey Tasting Competition

  1. Susan says:

    At one time my sister had her bee hive located under a peach tree. Her bees produced the most amazing peach flavored honey – best I’ve ever tasted. Someday I hope to have bees and keep them under my apple tree. I would love if you could provide more information about getting started with bees.

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