You may bee familiar with wine tastings, but what about honey tastings? With literally hundreds of varieties of honey across the country, you’ll soon discover that honey tasting is actually quite nuanced. If you want to know what honey tastes like, the best solution is to come on down to Asheville, North Carolina for a free honey tasting at one of our two honey tasting bars. Between 40 and 50 honey varietals are available in our stores.

honey tasting in progress
Note: This image pre-dates COVID. Rest assured, our BEEristas all wear masks at this time.

Features of a Honey Tasting

A honey tasting is a complete sensory experience. Our BEEristas highlight the following aspects of honey in a honey tasting:

Each honey has a different flavor. Even the same type of honey will have flavor variations between different harvests. That’s because the flavor of honey is dictated by a host of variables including the amount of flower nectar, soil nutrient content, and climate.

Many kinds of honey have no distinguishable smell while other honey can be quite pungent. Various honey aromas have been described as floral, fruity, musky, and spicy.

The color of each honey is dictated by a host of factors, predominantly the nectar of the pollinated flowers. Colors vary batch to batch and year to year and can range from almost translucent to very dark, almost black, ambers.

honey color guide from the American Honey Tasting Society

Color guide from the American Honey Tasting Society (check out their flavor and aroma wheel).

Honey texture and viscosity can range from silky smooth and thin to creamy, thick, gritty, and even waxy. Crystallization can also impact texture. While almost all raw honey eventually crystallizes, some crystallize more quickly than others. Crystallization may impact texture during a honey tasting, but it most certainly does not impact edibility. Learn more about honey crystallization.

Honey purity refers to the percentage of nectar coming from a single plant species. Single varietal or monofloral means honey produced predominantly from a single source. Bees pollinate many flowers, so purity is measured on a 1- 100% scale. Asheville Bee Charmer sets high purity standards. We send our honey to Texas A&M to guarantee our monoflorals contain 75% or more nectar from a single plant in order to be classified as monofloral.

For more information on honey tasting guides and practices, visit the American Honey Tasting Society.

Common Honey Tasting Terminology

honey bee pollinating

If you’re new to exploring the varieties of honey and honey flavors, you may come upon some unfamiliar terminology. The following are common honey terms that you may hear during your honey tasting experience.

Crystallization – Crystallization is a natural process that occurs in all raw honeys, though some faster than others, to preserve nutrients and quality. The rate of crystallization is dictated by the ratio of fructose and glucose in each honey type.

Honey – Honey is composed primarily of water and two sugars: fructose and glucose. Honey is dehydrated plant nectar created by honeybees during plant pollination and is used as a food and energy source for bees as well as hive insulation during colder months.

Honeycomb – Honeycomb is the hexagonal waxy structure made by bees to store honey. And it’s edible! See tips for eating honeycomb.

Infused Honey – Infused honey is created when herbs and spices are fully submerged in honey and the honey extracts properties and flavors from the herb or spice.

Monofloral honey – Monofloral literally means single flower, so monofloral honey is honey produced predominantly from the nectar and pollen of a single plant source.

Nectar – Nectar is the yummy sugar-rich viscous secretion produced by flowering plants.

Pollen – Pollen comes from the male reproductive part of the flower. When bees gather pollen from one flower they end up depositing some to the female reproductive part which results in pollination and fertilization. The pollen collected by worker bees is the primary food source for the hive.

Polyfloral – Polyfloral honey, or multifloral honey, means the honey is produced by bees that are collecting nectar and pollen from many different plant species. Sometimes a poly or multifloral honey is simply called ‘wildflower’ honey.

Raw Honey – Raw honey is honey that comes straight from the hive and is not pasteurized.

What to Expect at Our Asheville Honey Tasting Bars

row of honeys for honey tasting
Note: this image pre-dates COVID. Masks are currently requested for all customers.

How many honeys do I get to try?
As many as you like! Most people find that 5-10 is plenty.

How long does a honey tasting last?
The length of your honey tasting depends on how many you’re wanting to try. Most customers find 10-15 minutes gives them plenty of time to try a wide variety of both our monofloral and infused honey.

Can children participate?
Absolutely! We love letting supervised children enjoy our honey bar.

Is it sanitary?
Yes! We want you to feel safe and we’ve worked hard to create a positive experience for you. We have protective screens at our honey bar and register. All of our employees wear masks and sanitize the honey bar multiple times throughout the day.

How many people can you accommodate for a tasting?
Currently, we can allow eight people at a time at our Broadway honey bar location, and four at a time at our Battery Park location.

Do you need to book in advance?
No reservations are necessary! Just come when you’re ready. If the honey bar is full, feel free to browse our beautiful store while you’re waiting, and make a list of honey you’d like to try!

What else should folks know beforehand?
Come with an open, positive mind! Ask your Beetender what their favorite honeys are! You’re going to love our store! It’s the sweetest place to bee:)