German Honey Tasting
The Sweet Side of Germany
I was planning my first honey review on my new blog to be very simple. One, local Colorado honey, probably one I’ve tasted before, familiar and easy to write about… bing bang boom, done.
And then, to my sweet surprise, my friend Sheena sends me some German honey. Not just one German honey, Five German Honeys - one of which did not survive the journey - so, still, Four German Honeys! How lucky am I?! But now, obviously, I have to write my first honey review about these four German honeys. Not so simple anymore. Thanks Sheena. ;)
Sheena is a red-headed yogi from Philadelphia. We met and were roommates with four other women in Brisbane Australia when we were both studying abroad there in 2005. We’ve kept in touch through email and social media over the years and she has been a huge supporter of my Honey Huntress adventures.
Also, this isn’t the first time she has sent me honey from Germany, where she now lives. Two years ago, she surprised me as well with my first gift of honey from overseas. Though I lived in France and have traveled to London, Prague and Amsterdam, I have yet to travel to Germany, but I have heritage from that part of the world that I’d like to explore more. I hope to visit there within the next few years to meet these bees and have a Deutschland adventure with an old friend.
While looking into the history of beekeeping and honey in Germany, I found that in the 11th century A.D., German peasants paid their feudal lords in honey and beeswax. I vote for this honeybee currency again! Can I just take care of some bees and pay my rent in honey, please?
Honeydew: drops from heaven or aphid sweat?
The other thing I learned while researching the honey of Germany, is that their beekeeping history started with forest honey, also known as honeydew honey. Because I wanted to conduct a semi-blind tasting, I did not learn this about the honeys until afterwards. To a honey connoisseur, this is a very special, and rare treat. Here’s why:
Honeydew is a sugary secretion from aphids who feed on the sap of pine trees and other conifers, typically found in forests. Since these types of trees span far areas without many blossoms in site, honeybees have resourcefully harvested this sweet liquid that is full of amino acids, minerals, and lower fructose and glucose levels. Forest honey is typically darker, less sweet, and contains high levels of antioxidants, probiotics and vitamins, though it won’t contain much pollen. This allows for honeydew honey to be less prone to crystallization, and thus a prized medicinal and culinary honey.
Honeydew honey is very rare in the United States and is much more prominent in Europe and the Mediterranean. It is typically sourced from areas without much human interference which can usually imply very clean and organic honey.
Below you will first see my own tasting notes on each honey, and then the translated german notes that the beekeeper provided in italics. I could not find a website for the apiary but the label says Baker’s Bees and the email address is bakersbees@GMX.DE. It lists Stewart Baker as the beekeeper and the address is: Wildtalstrasse 5A 79194 Gundelfingen, Germany.
The jars also say “returnable glass” in German (mehrwegglas), which I think is extra sweet!
Four German Honeys
Lindenhonig - Linden Tree Honey
Non-transparent, extremely thick, golden liquid, slightly crystalized with small, occasional granules, carrying an extra light amber to white color on the honey color chart. Light and sweet on the tongue with a richer, and deeper aftertaste resembling a burnt caramel and green vegetable like asparagus.
Honey from the linden tree is sweet and powerful It has an aromatic and fresh taste and is reminiscent of herbs and peppermint with a menthol odor. Linden honey as a mixture of blossom and honeydew is depending on the proportions yellowish-green to brown, liquid to firm. This honey comes from Gundelfingen and Freidburg and because of the weather, can not be harvested every year in our region
Blütenhonig - Flower Blossom Honey
Shimmery light golden color, considered white on the honey color chart. Consistency of a soft wax. Smooth powdered-fine sand crystallization quickly dissolves on the tongue into sweetness. Truly a fairy honey, it is extremely floral and sparkly on the tongue, like candied citrus peel or taking a bite of fresh pineapple.
The first honey that is harvested here with the delicious taste of many fruit blossoms, flowering trees, as well as shrubs and the beautiful meadows in Vorstetten, Denzlingen and Gundelfingen. These blooms not only look good, they also provide nectar with a very aromatic and sweet taste. A honey with many flavors.
Waldhonig - Forest Honey
Slow and thick liquid with a light amber color transparency when poured. Very fruity, like oranges and fresh earthy herbs like tarragon or rosemary. Just a real mild, subtle sweetness that doesn’t linger, but is very fresh and pleasant while there. Feels like a walk through a sunny forest on a late summer day.
A very popular honey mixture of honeydew from different trees, and usually also contains some forest honey. It is harvested in Heuweiler and Glottertal. It tastes spicy, strong, and tart with a malty undertone. The color ranges from light brown to reddish brown. It is viscous and thick-flowed. All forest honey contains a lot of enzymes and minerals, as well as trace elements and resin components and is therefore very healthy.
Weißtannenhonig - White Pine Honey
The most liquid and transparent, but the darkest of the four, ranging in the amber to dark amber on the color chart. Tastes like a pine tree with a sweet woodiness and slight herbal aftertaste. There is a warmth as well, like a toasted hazelnut and raisin oatmeal with brown sugar and cinnamon. Honeybees must know what Christmas tastes like.
White pine honey is a rarity and for connoisseurs the king among the honeys. It is harvested in the Black Forest, this from Glottertal. Because not every year have the necessary conditions for the production of this honey vorhaden, it often happens that over several years in a row no Weibtannenhonig can be harvested. Its consistency often remains fluid for several months. The intense and powerful malty-spicy taste is accompanied by fine caramel and a light resinous undertone. The color of thick-bodied honey may vary; between reddish brown, over dark brown and black, often with a slightly green shimmer.