A look into Australian honey varieties
Our bees work hard to make honey, sometimes collecting nectar from more than one million flowers to produce almost half a kilo.
The flavour of honey is affected by different flower nectars. While foraging, the honeybee may gather nectar from more than 600 flowers in a day to create more than 300 different types of honey.
With so many different honeys in Australia, we’ve compiled tasting notes on a few of our favourites – Stringybark, Spotted Gum and more.
There are different types of Stringybark trees, but the most common is the Red Stringybark (Eucalyptus Macrorhyncha). Usually made in South Australia, Stringybark honey is darker with a rich, deep flavour. It’s an excellent option for cooking and baking, thanks to its natural frothing abilities when heated.
Jarrah honey comes from the Jarrah tree (also known as the Eucalyptus), which is native to Western Australia. It’s amber-coloured and full-bodied with a nutty, malt flavour and can be used for everything from dressing desserts to dressing wounds. Sometimes compared to Manuka honey for its antimicrobial healing power, this honey is used for ailments from sore throats to skin infections.
Native to Australia, Blue Gum is sometimes referred to as eucalyptus honey and is one of our country’s favourites. With pollen from the Blue Gum tree, the honey is mainly produced in Tasmania and South Australia. Blue Gum is densely textured and amber-coloured with medium-strength flavour – perfect as a breakfast honey, in your tea or as an addition to any dessert.
The Spotted Gum tree can be found around South Queensland. Its pollen produces darker honey with a warm aroma and caramel flavour – ideal in your coffee or over a dessert.
Red Gum is another healing Australian honey, produced by bees from the native River Red Gum Tree (Eucalyptus Camaldulensis). To taste, the honey is smooth and mild, with a golden colour.
Australia has over 170 species of Banksia trees and about twenty of those are worked by bees for honey. Banksia is a dark and distinctive honey with rich caramel and molasses aromas and intense sweetness.
The Leatherwood plant (Eucryphia lucida) is native to the western side of Tasmania. Leatherwood honey is extra light in colour and slightly liquid with a creamy texture. Its fresh and floral taste has notes of balsamic, musk and spice.
This unique honey is produced by Australia’s native stingless bees. It’s very rare – each hive only produces one kilogram of honey a year. Sugarbug honey is tangy, full-flavoured and is often used as medicine.
The Grey Box (Eucalyptus Microcarpa) is found in dry parts of South Eastern Australia. From the Grey Box tree, bees collect their nectar and pollen in large quantities to make a honey with a firm texture, an amber-gold colour and mellow butter tones.
The Black Box (Eucalyptus bicolor) is also known as Swamp Box, Dwarf Box, Scrub Box or Red Box. Black Box honey can be very dense and has a warm caramelised flavour, so it’s great in cooking and baking.
Medium to dark in colour, this honey is made from Bloodwood tree nectar. It is a very flavoursome honey – rich and sweet to taste with a smooth, silky texture. Perfect to add richness to desserts, in tea or spread over hot toast.
The Blackbutt tree is from the Eucalyptus family. Its honey has a similar flavour to Bloodwood honey – dark and rich, with scorched caramel flavours. This honey is high in antioxidants and minerals, so it’s loved by people for its health benefits as well as taste.
The Mallee is a eucalyptus tree in Western Australia that produces honey with distinctive and bold bush flavours. Those strong flavours make Mallee honey great in baking or cooking and perfect as a drizzle over cheeses.
Another Western Australian native, Powderbark honey has a silky smooth texture, with mild and moderately sweet toffee undertones.
Also known as Ironbark, this honey comes from the blossoms of Ironbark trees in Western Australia. The flavour is mild, soft and smoothly sweet with a hint of toffee. Given its light colour and gentle sweetness, Narrowleaf honey is a particular favourite with children.
The Yellow Box (Eucalyptus Melliodora) is commonly found in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland and produces one of Australia’s most popular honeys. Pale amber in colour with a sweet, smooth and buttery flavour, its high fructose content prevents crystallisation. It also has the lowest GI rating of any Australian honey.
The Karri tree is unique to Western Australia and is one of the tallest trees in the world – it also produces some of the best honey. The tree only flowers once every seven to ten years, so it’s hard to come by. Karri honey is light and golden with a delicate flavour.
All hail the honeybee
Australia’s wide variety of flowering plants, plus our busy honeybees, provide us beautiful honeys for any occasion – from mildly sweet to have in your tea to full-flavoured to add richness to your cooking, and even medicinal honey to help with healing. This season, branch out and try a honey you’ve never heard of – or see if you can notice different flavours in your own honey as the seasons change.