Honey is known, not only as a very popular sweet breakfast substance but also for its wonderful medicinal purposes, and of course, honey has always held a special place in Turkish culture and history.
Turkey is a huge global producer of honey, which is no surprise due to its vast history in the country, with its beautiful nectar and hard working bees.
Honey has been used for medicinal purposes and consumption for at least 10,000 years in Turkey.
Paintings and motifs found in the location of Catalhoyuk alone, date back to 8,000- 7,000 B.C and coins found at Ephesus in Izmir all point to the importance this beloved bee product has held throughout history and up to the present day.
These days, honey graces pretty much every Turkish breakfast and is still used to treat a variety of medical conditions.
Turkey annually produces well over 100,000 tons of honey with much of it being consumed domestically.
Bee keeping is very wide spread and a regular practice in Turkey, with bee keepers transporting their hives to different regions, depending on the seasons.
If you are a keen hiker or simply a lover of nature you will very often spot bee boxes on your travels in Turkey.
There are of course, many different varieties of honey from different nectar that differ in taste, depending on the region.
The taste and properties of honey can vary significantly based on the location and plant variety from where the nectar came from.
Here you will find a guide for expats and visitors, to learn more about the various types of honey, or what is known in Turkey as ‘Turkey’s liquid gold’.
Flower Honey- Cicek Bali
This honey is collected by worker bees directly from the flower and is the most popular consumed honey in the homes of Turkey. The nectar is collected from a vast variety of flowers known as ‘poly- floral’ honey.
There are also a wide variety of honeys made from the flowers of a single plant of flower species, which is referred to as ‘mono- floral’ honey in Turkey, these variations are usually referred to by the name of the plant species they are produced from.
In general, the most prevalent types of mono-floral honey that are produced in Turkey are orange blossom, chestnut, lavender, sunflower, lemon and carob. Some of the more rare types are eucalyptus, alfalfa, mint, linden and rosemary.
Pine Honey- Cam Bali
Turkey accounts for 92% of the world’s pine honey production and this honey is widely available. It’s predominantly produced in the country’s southern Aegean and western Mediterranean regions. Three quarters of the pine honey produced in Turkey is derived from the Mugla province alone.
Pine honey is produced from honey dew which is a liquid secreted from a type of insect that lives on Pine trees.
Pine honey is also much darker and less sweet than flower honey. It can be used for a weight loss aid that works by starting off the morning by drinking a glass of warm water with a tablespoon of Pine honey mixed in.
Citrus Honey- Narenciye Bali
Mostly found in the Mediterranean region, there are a variety of citrus honeys that have lovely aromatic flavors.
These types of honey include orange, lemon, mandarin and grapefruit and are harvested from either one type or multiple types of citrus tree blossoms.
This honey has a perfumed like taste and scent as well as containing high amounts of vitamin C. The consistency is a little thinner and does tend to crystallize.
Chestnut Honey- Kestane Bali
This honey comes from the nectar of flowers on chestnut trees that only blossom for a couple of weeks in June, in forests along the northern Black Sea coastal region.
It has a strong and quite bitter flavor and is more commonly used for medicinal purposes, which includes symptoms of asthma and respiratory issues. It is also used to give energy and it’s known to help heal burns if applied topically.
Sunflower Honey- Aycicek Bali
This honey is lighter in color and flavor and is produced in Turkey’s western Thrace region.
It does have a tendency to crystallize so is often mixed with another type of flower honey for consumption. It’s used for medicinal purposes to relieve fevers and to help strengthen the immune system.
Thyme Honey- Kekik Bali
This strong honey can be a little potent for some and has a distinctly acrid flavor, although it is lighter in color than many other varieties.
Revered for its medicinal purposes, it is said to cure flu symptoms and coughs, relieve bloating and increase the appetite. It can be applied topically for eczema and to relieve itching.
Lavender Honey- Lavanta Bali
This honey is a much rarer find. It’s primarily produced in June in the Isparta and Burdur regions of the western Anatolia.
It has a distinct flavor and a deep amber color.
It’s favored for its curative properties for sleep problems and for being a natural pain reliever.
This type of honey is also consumed as an accompaniment on gourmet cheese plates.
Acacia Honey- Akasya Bali
This is another rare type of honey produced from the nectar of its eponymous flowers in the Kackar Mountains in Artvin.
The health benefits found from this honey are its ability to heal mouth wounds much quicker, improve lung disease symptoms, heal intestinal infections, blood cleanser and help with skin markings when used topically.
Highland Honey- Anzer Bali
The nectar of this honey comes from the indigenous highland flowers in the Anzer plateau in the Rize province.
It’s very rare yet highly sought after because of its medicinal purposes for complaints such as swollen tonsils, hair loss, stomach pains, memory loss and varicose veins.
Mad Honey- Deli Bali
This honey is unfortunately famous due to its adverse effects when consumed in high amounts.
This unique honey is produced in just two places in the world, the Black Sea Kackar Mountains and in the Himalayas foothills.
It can have very dangerous psychedelic properties due to a neurotoxin from the rhododendrons nectar.
When taken in small quantities, this honey is beneficial for stomach ache, anxiety, hypertension and diabetes, but even a spoonful too much can result in intoxication. When excess amounts are consumed, this type of honey can easily result in hallucinations, sickness, fainting, seizures, dangerously low blood pressure and in extreme cases even death.
Turkey produced the world’s most expensive honey that features in the Guinness World Records, costing 10,000 euro per kilo!
Based in the Black Sea region of Sile, Centauri honey is harvested from a cave that sits 2,500 meters above sea level.
The surroundings are laden with a variety of medicinal herbs, including St John’s Wort, which resulted in this extremely rare honey that has amazing health benefits, due to its high levels of potassium, magnesium, phenols and antioxidants.
As opposed to most other commercial bee keepers, that harvest their honey 2-3 times a year, Centauri honey only gets harvested once a year.