Whether you're a collector of single-varietal honey looking to add more variation to your collection or someone simply wondering what buckwheat honey tastes like before purchasing, you've come to the right place.
Looking at reviews alone is enough to make one's head spin. Why? Because as you have likely seen, the flavor profile of buckwheat honey is polarizing. As with most foods, taste is personal. Your taste preferences will determine whether you'll enjoy this unique varietal's flavors.
In order to get the complete picture of buckwheat honey's taste profile, we’ll take a deep dive into the flavors, colors, textures, and distinct nuances that make this honey type so recognizable. In this post you’ll find the following sections:
- The buckwheat plant provides the backdrop of flavor.
- Three primary factors influence the taste of honey.
- What is the flavor profile of buckwheat honey?
- How color and texture affect the flavor of honey.
- Buckwheat honey pairings and recipes
- How to source a quality buckwheat honey
The buckwheat plant provides the backdrop of flavor.
To understand what buckwheat honey tastes like, let's first discuss what buckwheat tastes like since the taste of the buckwheat plant influences the taste of the honey.
Buckwheat is an edible plant in the rhubarb family whose leaves, seeds, and flowers impart a nutty, malty, and earthy quality. However, the plant's flavor only provides the setting and backdrop for what to expect when tasting buckwheat honey.
The buckwheat honey flavor is far more complex than the plant. Why? Primarily because honey is made from the nectar of its flowers, not the plant itself. And second, because quality raw honey has layers of flavors dependent on a variety of intricate factors. So to capture what buckwheat honey tastes like, we need to examine what influences its wondrous complexity.
Three primary factors influence the taste of honey.
Conscious consumers of buckwheat honey need to know about a few factors that affect the buckwheat honey flavor. Like finely made wine, no two batches of raw honey can be identical, and here's why:
- Beekeeping and Production Practices - Pasteurization and filtration removes or destroys most, if not all, of the molecular qualities that make one honey varietal unique from another. This means that only raw, unfiltered honey will retain the true flavor of buckwheat or any honey. Bee and hive health are also vital to producing high quality honey and ensure that the honey in the jar is pure.
- Terroir "taste of place"- Terroir is a word that describes all aspects of the land where the buckwheat flowers grow, including soil health, levels of sunlight, altitude, terrain, and overall presence and health of surrounding flora and fauna (and countless other variables).
- Batch- season and weather changes, along with shifts to terroir, affect each batch of honey produced. No two batches are identical, so variation should be welcomed.
What is the flavor profile of buckwheat honey?
As mentioned at the start, the flavor of buckwheat honey is polarizing. Not everyone enjoys the types of flavors that are characteristic of this varietal. So to gauge if this flavor profile is right for you, we've provided a glance at the range of flavors you might detect when tasting this honey:
- Cherries (especially sour cherries)
This range of flavors may delight some and disgust others, but one thing everyone can agree on is that buckwheat honey tastes "pungent."
How color and texture influence the flavor of honey.
Buckwheat honey has a high concentration of polyphenols, giving it its deep color appearing dark amber, purple, and even black. Similarly to a cabernet sauvignon or a malbec, this polyphenol-packed honey has a robust "mouth feel."
Let's face it; texture influences how much you enjoy eating a particular food. So understanding buckwheat honey's texture is important when considering its flavor and taste. In terms of texture, you should expect to find a range from smooth to granular. (It is common for raw, unfiltered honey to eventually crystalize, so don't be alarmed if you see this with your buckwheat honey.) One helpful comparison is to that of molasses since buckwheat honey and molasses are similar in flavor profile, texture, and nutritional benefits.
Buckwheat honey pairings and recipes
Buckwheat honey has offered its distinctive and, dare we say, quirky flavors to recipes across the globe for hundreds of years. Here are some pairings and recipes.
- Its earthy, pungent qualities pair nicely with strong cheeses like stilton and aged cheddar.
- Buckwheat honey makes a stark accompaniment with meats, including pork, chicken, and cured meats.
- Contrast the earthy qualities of buckwheat honey with sweet courses and pour it over vanilla ice cream, pancakes, and crepes.
- Use buckwheat honey to prepare a glaze for your Christmas ham.
- Add buckwheat honey to a marinade for an Asian-inspired stir-fry.
- Use buckwheat honey as a substitute for maple syrup at breakfast time. (It works particularly well as a glaze for bacon.)
- Craft a surprising and complex barbecue sauce.
- Recreate the traditional French gingerbread recipe using buckwheat honey.
How to source quality buckwheat honey
Returning to the concept of "taste of place," in order to find all of these recognizable flavors in buckwheat honey, you must source from producers who care for their bees and the terroir with a focus on hive health and maintaining the honey in its natural form. Since honey is not regulated in the United States, investigating honey producers is an essential first step before deciding which honey to buy. Look for details on their organic methods and packaging process. Do they process their honey similarly to us at Big Island Bees that is free of chemicals, artificial feeds, miticides, heat, or filtration?
All of those practices influence taste. Purchasing a quality raw and unfiltered buckwheat honey will ensure you find the flavor characteristics discussed in this post.
Is buckwheat honey better than other honey?
As demonstrated, the taste of buckwheat honey is as unique as its flavor profile and the beekeepers producing it. Whether or not you’ll enjoy it depends on your individual taste preferences. As with all raw honey, quality raw buckwheat honey also has a range of properties that may be beneficial to our health. Its antioxidant qualities have been compared to that of manuka honey and some prefer it over manuka as it provides similar benefits at a smaller cost.
Big Island Bees is an artisanal producer of three unique Hawaiian honey varietals. Our honey is raw and unfiltered and we tend to our own hives with deliberate care for the health of the bees and environment – without the use of chemical miticides or artifical feeds. We have proudly been the first place recipient of the Good Foods Awards in 2021 and 2022 in the honey category.