Honey is an astonishing food that is often overlooked and underappreciated.
In fact, if you’ve only ever had honey from the grocery store, you may not even realize its true potential.
On the other hand, raw honey offers a great way to get the maximum health benefits from honey and to find the best taste as well.
That’s why this post is focused on the best raw honey brands. After all, if you want to get the most out of honey, you need to be choosing a good brand to begin with.
Don't want to wait? Skip straight to the brands!
Raw Honey vs Processed Honey
Visually, raw honey looks the same as processed.
Differences in the color and texture of honey actually come from the specific variety (or varieties) of flower that the bees visit, rather than the processing methods.
As a result, you can’t tell whether honey is raw or processed simply from looking at it.
But, the taste differences are dramatic. In fact, raw honey can be a shock if you’ve never tried it before and it can take a little time before you start to enjoy it.
Basically, raw honey brings out the influence of the flower much more strongly. In contrast, processed honey simply ends up tasting mostly like sugar. This means that the different varieties of raw honey are very distinct from each another.
- For example, the company Big Island Bees offers some interesting varieties of honey, including Macadamia Nut Blossom. This flavor is unusual and even has a slightly nutty taste.
With raw honey, the variety can have a dramatic impact. This means that you can shop around and look for specific floral combinations that you enjoy the taste of.
In terms of health, you’re going to get many of the same benefits regardless of the variety, although each will have a slightly different balance of nutrients. The obvious exception to that rule is manuka honey, which does have more antimicrobial benefits.
The same is actually true for a variety called kanuka, which is a closely related species. However, kanuka honey is rare outside of New Zealand, as it isn’t commonly exported.
It’s easy to assume that creamed honey is processed but that’s not actually the case.
Instead, crystallization is a natural event that occurs with honey. Indeed, honey that you store may crystallize over time and this type of honey will liquefy under some conditions as well.
Companies can promote crystallization while the honey remains raw. You can even find this with manuka honey, such as the option that Airborne produces. It's more common to find liquid raw honey. But, there are plenty of creamed examples out there too.
The Best Raw Honey Brands
There are many different options, but what are the very best choices for raw honey? Well, it depends a bit on what you're looking for. But, the brands below are all fantastic places to begin.
Nature Nate's is one of the most appealing places to start with raw honey. The company offers a wide range of sizes and styles, including organic and non-organic options. There are even pouches of raw honey that you can take on the go.
Unlike many other brands, Nature Nate's offers multifloral honey. This honey comes from multiple types of flower, rather than one. This produces a less distinct flavor.
That's not entirely bad. If you've never had raw honey before, monofloral options might be overwhelming. Nature Nate's is a good middle ground. It's also an inexpensive brand. So, if you don't want to pay a lot for honey - this is the perfect choice.
GloryBee is an interesting brand if you want to try out monofloral honey and experiment with the flavors. There are 12 different varieties. However, these are seasonal, so availability changes over time.
Some of the options are also organic, while others aren’t.
The company provides considerable information about their processes and there is a strong emphasis on creating high-quality natural honey using as little processing as possible.
Big Island Bees
This is another monofloral choice. Big Island Bees is a smaller company, offering five different varieties of honey in two sizes. The honey is produced in Hawaii, is raw and comes in a glass jar. Some of the flavors are also certified organic.
The brand isn't as well-known or as popular as some of the other entries in this list. But, it is still an interesting choice. If nothing else, the varieties are unusual and would be worth trying out.
To be honest, smaller honey producers often create amazing products anyway.
The Tasmanian Honey Company
This is another fairly obscure brand but it's a very appealing one. Their main product is leatherwood honey, which comes from Australian rainforests.
The company states that the honey is rare and has balsamic, white flower and citrus notes. This is an unusual combination of flavors and seems to be very popular.
The honey also comes in a reusable metal tin, which should help with shipping and storage.
Desert Creek Honey
This is a Texas-based honey company, which might appeal to some of you. They offer liquid and creamed raw honey, along with a honeycomb product.
The sizes are larger than many other brands, while still being reasonably priced.
However, this is wildflower honey. This means it comes from multiple flower species. Again, that's not entirely bad and many people prefer multifloral honey. If that applies to you, then this is an appealing brand - and it gets great reviews.
Manuka Health New Zealand
This company strongly specializes in manuka honey and provides significant information about where the honey comes from. The brand also has a range of different MGO ratings, so you can choose based on which you want.
It is also one of the most well-known manuka honey brands, making them very reliable. Because their reputation matters, the company does everything it can to ensure that the honey is healthy and offers the most benefits.
The Beekeeper's Daughter
While talking about best raw honey brands, I also want to mention this option, which comes from the company The Beekeeper's Daughter.
Notably, the product is comb honey. You still get honey but you're also getting the honeycomb along with it.
There hasn’t been much research done on health benefits from honeycomb itself but it’s easy to see that there could be advantages. At the same time, many people do enjoy the honeycomb and it really is something to try at least once.
Finding Good Raw Honey
The brands above are all good examples of raw honey. But, there are other good ones out there as well. So, it's important to know what to look for.
- For one thing, raw honey is mostly a marketing term. As a result, companies will vary in the exact processing methods they use.
- However, most companies that specialize in raw honey will make their approaches clear. In many cases, the honey will even be traceable, allowing you to find out specifically where the honey comes from.
1. Don't Stress About Organic
Choosing organic often isn’t realistic with honey. Honey is produced from bees gathering nectar and there is no real way to control where they go.
As a result, it often isn't possible for honey to be organic. The site Civil Eats offers more insight into this area. There are exceptions but you certainly don’t need honey to be organic for it to be healthy.
2. Check the Labels
Labeling is also important. For example, some options for raw honey will be from a single variety, while others may be mixed. This is a particular issue if you’re looking for a specific type of honey and isn’t always obvious.
One example is the product Manuka and Wildflower.
- This one is likely to be mostly wildflower honey with a little manuka (especially as manuka is has strong flavor). Yet, if you just glanced at the label, you might assume it was manuka honey.
- This could be an appealing option for somebody that wants a cheaper alternative to straight manuka. Likewise, manuka honey does have a fairly intense taste. Trying a blend instead is one way to get some of the benefits, along with a milder taste.
- Still, some of the reviews for this honey suggest that people simply don’t read the label and expect straight manuka honey.
3. Consider the Variety
The variety of honey also matters. There are many different varieties of raw honey out there and they tend to have different flavor profiles.
In most cases, you'll want a monofloral honey - where the nectar comes from one type of flower. This isn't necessarily healthier. But, the flavor profile is much more interesting and appealing.
This happens because honey takes on the characteristics of the flowers that the nectar comes from. As a result, honey from a single type of flower is typically more unique and distinctive.
To do this, you can look for companies that tell you what flower the honey comes from. If they don’t, the result is typically from multiple flowers. The term wildflower also means mutifloral honey.
You may have to experiment to find out which varieties you like the most. A good place to look is The Nibble, which offers insight into many different varieties of honey and what flavors you can expect.
4. Look at Reviews
Finally, if you’re buying on Amazon or somewhere similar, take the time to look at reviews. The customer isn’t always right but reviews are a great way to see the balance of customer opinion. That alone can offer great insight.
What About Manuka Honey?
There are many different varieties of raw honey and these can have dramatic differences in taste. Additionally, you’ll find some options that are made with the nectar from a single type of flower, while others may use a combination.
However, there is one specific variety that gets considerable attention, which is manuka honey. This is produced from the species Leptospermum scoparium and the plant is native to New Zealand and southeast Australia.
Manuka honey is also one of the darkest varieties of honey.
This gives it a fairly deep and distinctive taste, which is very different than the honey that many people are used to.
For example, the UMF rating can be seen with the brand Comvita. This is also one of the best honey brands if you’re specifically looking at manuka honey.
With this in mind, picking manuka honey with a higher MGO or UMF rating could potentially mean more benefits. Nevertheless, the rating does specifically refer to antimicrobial activity. As a result, it doesn’t offer a complete picture of the health benefits.
Additionally, a higher rating will typically increase the price. For example, there is a UMF 5+ version from Comvita that is relatively inexpensive.
Overall, manuka honey is often viewed as being extremely healthy and is popular among people wanting to get the best possible outcomes from honey.
The Health Benefits of Raw Honey
So, why should you care about raw honey?
Honey typically goes through significant processing, which includes exposure to high heat and also filtration.
- As a result, much of the honey in stores will be lacking in nutrients and will have fewer vitamins, minerals and enzymes than it should. Likewise, the filtration aspect also means that there isn't any pollen either.
- Because there are so many missing nutrients, honey processed in this way won’t have the same health benefits.
This is where raw honey comes in.
Generally speaking, raw honey will go through as little processing as possible. For example, some companies strain the honey (to remove chunks of beeswax and debris) and heat it slightly but that’s it.
The end result is that raw honey will tend to offer more benefits. And really, that just makes sense. After all, processed food is a significant problem in modern society and some of those issues are even true for honey.
Indeed, much of the research into honey has been conducted on raw honey, rather than processed alternatives.
There are many benefits specifically associated with honey and with raw honey. One of the most prominent is antimicrobial properties (8). This effect is true for all types of honey, but it is most significant in manuka and kanuka varieties (9).
The evidence supporting these effects may be somewhat limited but honey is still a good alternative to medication in many cases.
If nothing else, the antimicrobial effects of honey may be relevant here.
Honey is also used in other ways, including externally. The polyphenols in honey may also help to decrease heart disease risk, although the connection is mostly theoretical at this stage (17).
If nothing else, honey certainly has more nutritional benefits than sugar and can be a much better option for a sweetener. Likewise, people often combine honey with other healthy choices, such as ginger, cinnamon and lemon.
One way of achieving this is in tea, although people tend to find their own solutions based on what they enjoy and need.
Realistically, there are many examples of best raw honey brands, far too many to cover in detail. Often, you’ll find that some of the best options are the small and obscure companies, especially those that are family owned.
But, more than anything, the answer may come down to trying out a few types yourself and working out what specific varieties you enjoy the most. The ones mentioned on this list are a great place to start and can offer insight into the types of honey that you prefer.
When it comes to raw honey, what is your personal favorite? Did I include it in this list?
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