What Is Thyme Honey?
Thyme honey, much like the name suggests, derives from the flowering thyme plant. Thyme is a member of the nectar-producing mint family known as Lamiaceae, which houses other popular herbs such as mint, sage, oregano, and lavender.
There are several different types of thyme plants belonging to the Thymus family, though the most common type is Thymus vulgaris.
Thyme has long been used throughout human history as a medicinal herb. The ancient Sumerians used thyme for its antiseptic properties.
During the Middle Ages, thyme was used in the treatment of diseases such as multiple sclerosis and leprosy. Thyme is still frequently used today in both natural, herbal medicines and by the pharmaceutical industry.
Most thyme honey derives from the Thymus vulgaris variety as the evergreen herb is a perennial and thrives in hot, sunny climates with well-drained soil.
Honey bees gather the pollen of the thyme plant during pollination and use it to create thyme honey. This monofloral honey is produced across the world but comes mainly from Italy, Greece, Spain, France, and New Zealand.
(Read more about the equally amazing orange blossom honey – in a new tab.)
Greek Thyme Honey
Greek thyme honey is of the most revered types of Greek honey and has been used by the Greeks since antiquity for its medicinal and nutritional benefits. Thyme-fed bees produce less honey than other bees, making it a rarer and more luxurious honey.
References to honey have been quoted in many classical texts, such as those spoken by the Grecian father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, who wrote, “Honey and pollen cause warmth, clean sores and ulcers, soften hard ulcers of lips, heal carbuncles and running sores.”
Greek thyme honey is known historically as Hymettus honey, as wild thyme grows on Mount Hymettus near Attica.
Mount Hymettus has become synonymous with thyme honey as it has been the hot spot for Greek thyme honey for thousands of years. Thyme honey is also quite famously produced in Crete and Kythera.
Greek thyme grows wildly in places such as Mount Hymettus, where its primary sources of wild thyme are Thymus capitatus and Satureja thymbra.
It is not uncommon for a certain percentage of Greek thyme honey to be mixed with other Lamiaceae species such as sage, oregano, and rosemary due to its wild nature.
Did you know? The Mount Hymettus region is known by locals as “Trelos” or crazy, likely due to the wild, erratic behavior of the pollinating bees. Others think the area’s unstable weather patterns have contributed to its crazy reputation.
Greek thyme honey is light in color, and its flavor reflects the wild nature of the flowers and herbs that blanket the mountains in the spring and summer months. In Greece, a popular way to sweeten fresh Greek yogurt is to drizzle thyme honey on top.
Another widely known Mediterranean variety of thyme honey is Hyblaean honey from the Iblei Mountains in Sicily.
Like Hymettus honey, Hyblaean honey is largely composed of the wild thyme variety Thymus capitatus and has a long and important place in Sicilian history, culture, and economy.
New Zealand Thyme Honey
First brought over by gold miners in the 1800s, thyme honey now grows throughout New Zealand.
Thyme and thyme honey, most commonly produced from the common thyme variety Thymus vulgaris, is now widely celebrated at the Alexandra Thyme Festival.
Thyme Honey Health Benefits
Potent Source Of Antioxidants
Thyme honey has one of the highest antioxidant levels of all types of honeys, primarily due to its strong levels of polyphenols and flavonoids.
These protective antioxidants defend the body from aging, disease, infection, various types of cancer, pollution, and more.
Several different studies over the past couple of decades have linked thyme honey to a reduction in cancer cells. One 2009 study concluded that a thyme honey-enriched diet may prevent the development of breast, prostate, and endometrial cancer cells.
Similar research suggests thyme honey may reduce the vitality of hormone-dependent cancer cells. Thyme honey’s antioxidants may also benefit the body’s defense against cancer as it prevents free radicals from causing cellular damage.
Thyme honey contains antioxidants and phytochemicals such as flavonoids that are known to have anti-inflammatory properties. It is especially beneficial for those with inflammation of the stomach.
Thyme honey’s antioxidants, phytochemicals, and antibacterial properties team up to prevent and treat gastric irritation by soothing an irritated stomach lining.
Two of thyme’s active ingredients are thymol and carvacrol. These active ingredients are common to the Lamiaceae family of herbs and have been shown to have strong antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal effects.
These compounds can effectively inhibit gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, as well as antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Thus, thyme honey can be a fantastic topical treatment for wounds, burns, minor scrapes and can be consumed to naturally treat a sore throat or common cold.
Assists Against Seasonal Allergies
Consuming local honey, especially during allergy season, is believed to help the body’s natural response to allergies.
Thyme honey may be particularly beneficial for this reason as it contains higher levels of the well-researched flavonoid quercetin compared to other types of honey.
Quercetin has been linked to reduced allergic reactions as it boosts the immune system and stabilizes the cell membranes of allergens and prevents them from releasing histamine.
Thyme honey is a fantastic honey for calming the mind and body due to its high concentrations of Vitamin D. For ultimate relaxation, mix a spoonful of honey into a warm cup of herbal tea before bedtime.
Thyme honey can also help with mental and physical exhaustion by easing stress and promoting rejuvenating rest.
Thyme Honey vs Manuka Honey
Manuka honey is a distinctive honey that derives primarily from the Manuka or Tea Trees of New Zealand. A variety of thyme honey, most commonly Thymus vulgaris, is also grown and cultivated throughout New Zealand.
In general, the two types of honey are similar in regards to their antibacterial and antimicrobial abilities.
While both New Zealand Manuka and thyme honey have antioxidant and anticancer properties, one 2016 study found that thyme honey was 1.5 to 2-fold more potent at treating Caco-2 cells and had a stronger free radical scavenging capacity than Manuka.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Thyme Honey Healthy?
Thyme honey is an incredibly healthy, natural honey that contains gut-healthy enzymes, immune-boosting properties, and defensive antioxidants that protect that body from cellular damage.
Thyme honey is also highly antimicrobial and can be used to treat colds, coughs, sore throats, and minor wounds.
What Does Thyme Honey Taste And Smell Like?
Thyme honey is reminiscent of the herb, with strong, aromatic flavors that are fresh, herbal, savory, and slightly peppery. Thyme honey has a medium sweetness with subtle notes of fruit, florals, and clove. Its herbal aromatics are fragrant and long-lasting.
What Does Thyme Honey Look Like?
The color of thyme honey will vary slightly depending on the species of thyme and the region in which it is produced. In general, thyme honey is a light to dark amber color, with Greek thyme honey being on the darker side.
How Do You Use Thyme Honey?
Thyme honey can be used like other types of honey: to sweeten food and drink, applied to the skin topically, or used as a natural sore throat and cough treatment.
Do Thyme And Honey Go Together?
Thyme and honey make a fantastic pairing as the fresh, herby thyme balances out the sweet complexities of raw, natural honey and its floral undertones.
How Does Thyme Help The Body?
Thyme is a powerful source of vitamins and minerals, supplying you with a healthy dose of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, copper, iron, and manganese. Thyme is also incredibly rich in antioxidants that help the body’s immune system stay healthy.