Honey Tasting: Wildflower Honey From Shiga, Japan

Honey from Shiga, JapanMy friend Keiko recently visited her hometown of Kyoto, and during her travels through nearby Shiga Prefecture she picked up this jar of local honey for me. This is my first jar of Japanese honey, so I was pretty excited to receive it. Keiko has been exposed to my honey mania, and attended my recent Honey Tasting Fundraiser, so this time in Japan she was more aware of honey than previously. She told me that in fact many people there are interested in honey and that she even saw shops dedicated solely to honey. I need to go back there.

The label on this jar says, by line:
* Made in Shiga Prefecture
* “Hyakka-mitsu”, meaning “Hundred Flower Honey”
* Nakagawa Bee Company

Tasting

This honey is very sweet and bright. The flavor is not especially exotic, but very nice. I find it hard to describe, but the closest words I can choose are warm pure caramel, with a subtle fruit tone like grapefruit that gives it a little sour edge. There’s a hint of flowers in the nose. Altogether it’s an elegant specimen. Thanks again Keiko!

Honey Tasting Pictures

100 of the 106 honeys
 
Last month’s honey tasting fundraiser was a lot of fun. The turnout wasn’t what I was hoping, but the people who did show (despite some unpleasant weather that day) got very into it. To my great surprise, at least four people tried every one of the 106 honeys, and others tried a great deal of them. Not only that, many took extensive notes on the sheet that I provided, which was double-sided to list all 106 honeys and leave room for tasting notes.

Honey Tasting Fundraiser 2014
 
As you can see in the pictures here, the honeys were spread out over six tables, organized by type (floral source) or grouping (such as “forest” or “wildflower”, where the floral source is not specified). This allowed people to sample honeys in the same category that came from different countries, such as chestnut tree honey from France, Spain or Italy. One popular area was the table full of local Seattle honeys, which held their own in a room full of exotic honeys from 19 countries. Among the more freaky honeys, some people actually enjoyed the Arbutus honey from Portugal, despite it being so bitter.

Some of people’s favorite honeys from this tasting turned out to be:

  • Kiawe honey from Hawaii
  • “5th Month Honey” from the hills of Lampang, Thailand
  • Eucalyptus honey from Spain (Purmiel brand, harvested in a national park)
  • Seattle honeys, especially those from Rainy Day Bees, Honey Hole and Seattle Urban Honey.
  • French honeys from Brittany and Normandy.

It was gratifying to see people come away amazed at how different all the honeys were from each other, despite there being so many.

Keiko trying the beechwood honeydew honey

Tanner contemplating a flavor

Taste and smell

This guy knows his honey

A fun time

 

Altogether the tasting raised $500 to be donated to the fire relief fund set up by the Community Foundation of North Central Washington. Now that I’ve done the work to get all the honeys organized and make the undersheets etc., I would love to do this again.

Honey Tasting Fundraiser: Oct 25

Try many kinds of honey, and help wildfire relief efforts!

Saturday October 25, 2014
4 – 7 pm
Northgate Community Center

• $20 minimum donation, tax-deductible, check or cash
• Drop in any time after 4, doors close at 7
• Leave time if you want to try many honeys!
• Palate-cleansers (crackers, water) will be provided


Facebook Event Page
Download the flyer help me promote this event!

As many of you know, this summer’s wildfires decimated a very large area in central Washington, with enormous impact on the people living there. As if the fires were not enough, the burned land has lately been prone to flash flooding and mudslides due to the loss of ground cover. The Community Foundation of North Central Washington has set up a Fire Relief Fund with a long-term focus on helping people rebuild their lives. All of the donated funds will go towards those affected by the fires.

If you cannot attend this honey tasting event and/or would like to help the area another way, you can:

About The Honey

I have been collecting honey for a number of years and have over 160 different kinds from around the world. For this tasting I will be choosing my favorites and some of the most unusual ones I own. This will include a fair number from our own state, and not only because of the purpose of the fundraiser. As it turns out, Washington produces some amazing honey.

This is your chance to get honey-experienced all in one go!

Honey Tasting: Rainy Day Bees “Early” Neighborhood Honey

Early season honeys from Rainy Day Bees in SeattleThis weekend I came across a new apiary at the Shoreline farmer’s market: Rainy Day Bees, who offer “raw neighborhood honey” produced from hives they keep in the city of Seattle, in addition to raw Fireweed honey they get from beekeepers out of town. The two ‘city honeys’ are Fremont Early and Greenwood Early, labeled for the neighborhood within Seattle and the season the honey was collected. The bees that collected the Greenwood honey were actually situated on top of a building in the Greenwood area. These are the first honeys produced since the bees started foraging this spring. Based on the results, I can’t wait to taste the honeys produced later this year.

Tasting

These honeys look the same in the bottle, both being light-colored and clear, but they do not taste the same. The Fremont honey is more assertive, with a distinctive sour lemon taste from the maple trees that were blooming when it was collected. The Greenwood honey has much less of that lemon, though it’s there, and it’s decidedly soft and floral, with a green-melon flavor as well. It’s more runny and light on the tongue, but I find it the more complex tasting of the two. Both are keepers though.

Where To Find It

I found these at the Shoreline Farmers Market, where the beekeepers Peter and Amy Beth Nolte had a stand. They said they won’t be there every week and that they have limited stock (this year’s Greenwood Early is almost gone in fact). You can get honey directly from them on their website if you don’t manage to see them in person.

Honey Tasting: Polifloral Native Honey From Chile

Polifloral Native Honey from ChileThis is a honey I use all the time, and I’ve been buying extra in case it stops showing up in Seattle since it’s the best honey I know for putting in coffee. This is billed as a “polifloral” honey, which is just another way to say “wildflower”. But the Origen website says the flowers are native to the south of Chile and include “Coigües, Robles, Raulí, Arrayanes, Ciprés de la cordillera, Canelos, Tepas and Araucarias.” I want a picture.

Tasting

Despite all the flowers apparently involved, this is not a very floral honey (unlike Ulmo Tree and Tiaca, two others from Chile that are in-your-face flowery). Instead it reminds me of cooked bananas, or cooked fruit of some kind, with brown sugar. It’s very rich. It’s like a Thai desert I’ve had many times: cooked bananas with a sweet brown sauce.

I don’t take any kind of espresso drink sweetened, but if I make coffee at home with my grinder and French press, I like to add a little honey (or Dark Muscovado sugar) and coconut creamer. I’ve tried many honeys in coffee, and most just disappear into the coffee, which is a waste of good honey. But any honey with a cooked fruit thing going on seems to work in coffee.

Where To Find It

In Seattle, the only place I’ve seen this is Big John’s PFI. It’s imported by Origen (Chilean Gourmet), so maybe you can track down a distributor in your area.