Clover honey is just one of many varieties of honey you can buy—one that possesses a unique flavour and fragrance and tastes great whether it’s drizzled onto hot toast or spooned into a cup of herbal tea.
But why would you opt for clover honey over anything else? What benefits does it provide, if any? What does it taste like? And how is it produced?
Keep reading for answers to these questions and many more.
Clover Honey versus Regular Honey
Clover honey is produced from bees that gather nectar predominantly from clover plants. There are a huge number of plants in this family, and clover honey is produced from bees that gather from some or many of these plants.
There seems to be some confusion concerning this variety, and we’ve seen a number of questions along the lines of, “How does clover honey compare to normal honey?” The truth is, they are one and the same. There really is no “normal” honey. However, some inexpensive and potentially counterfeit honey products are on the market and it pays to know how to spot these.
A premium honey should always list the source of nectar, such as Clover Honey or Thyme Honey. If it is produced from a variety of flowers, it may also be listed as Wildflower Honey. Inexpensive honey tends to be listed simply as Honey or Set/Runny Honey. This is not counterfeit, but is simply a mixture of several different kinds of honey that has no source and has been mass-produced with cost in mind.
It still tastes like honey, it still provides many of the health benefits, and it’s also cheap. If you have a particularly sweet tooth and want to replace sugar with honey, this cheaper variety is ideal, otherwise you could end up spending tens of pounds a day on a premium variety.
However, there are also fake honeys on the market. These are produced with simple sugar syrups and colourings. They may be labelled as “honey flavoured”, or words to that effect, or they may simply make false claims. In our guide to the benefits of honey, we discussed how this was a massive issue in the United States.
Luckily, it’s much less of an issue in the United Kingdom because authorities are very strict on the regulation of honey and other products of animal origin, but it still pays to do your research. Make sure you only buy cheaper honey from reputable brands.
What Does it Taste Like?
There are hundreds of different plants in this family and they grow all over the world. As a result, the honey they produce can differ significantly from one product to the next in terms of colour, taste, and consistency.
However, there is some consistency. For instance, clover honey tends to be very mild and sweet. Some argue it has no taste at all and is just “sweet”, while others argue it has a mild and pleasant floral taste.
It doesn’t possess the dark colour of forest honey or the complex flavours of Greek honey and is better suited for use as a natural sugar replacement in tea, cakes, and homemade treats. It’s rarely a honey for the connoisseurs, but as is the case with everything else, products of varying qualities are out there, including some really premium ones.
Is Clover Honey Raw?
Clover honey can be raw, but it’s not raw by default, and most varieties of clover honey have been processed. It’s a cheap honey, most of which may actually end up in those entry-level honeys you find on supermarket shelves, so it doesn’t really suit the raw movement.
You can find raw clover honey out there, but if you’re choosing raw because you want something that contains more antioxidants and nutrients, as well as something that contains a huge depth of flavour, you may be better off looking for another variety of raw honey.
Confusion also surrounds set versus runny honey, with some believing that one is purer than the other. Honey can be either runny or set, and this is as true of clover honey as it is of any other honey. Some varieties, most notably Greek honey, have a uniquely thick texture, but the majority are very runny and can be “set” by mixing them with granulated honey. A runny honey can also set itself if stored in a cold place.
Is it Organic?
Clover honey can be organic, but it’s tricky. For honey to be classified as organic, the farmers need to be absolutely sure that the plants their bees gather nectar from do not use any trace of pesticides. They also need to be able to prove that these plants were grown organically from seed to bloom, and if they are relying on wild clover, as many producers do, this is simply not possible.
The Health Benefits of Clover Honey
A tablespoon of clover honey contains around 50 to 60 calories, all but a trace of which comes from sugar. There are some vitamins and minerals in a serving of clover honey, but to consume enough to get anywhere near your RDAs, you would have to consume a sickening amount of honey.
The same can’t be said for antioxidants, though, as these are abundant in honey. Darker honey varieties tend to be a better source of these compounds (they also tend to contain more vitamins and minerals), but this isn’t always the case and clover honey still possesses some health benefits.
It is antibacterial and antiseptic and it may also provide some anti-inflammatory benefits. What’s more, as we have discussed in countless herbal tea guides (see our guide to yerba mate and burdock root tea for just a couple examples), antioxidants can help prevent chronic disease when consumed in their natural form.
Of course, you’re treading a very fine line with honey as it’s also high in sugar, and if you consume too much of it, then it will do more harm than good. Too much honey is also really bad for you if you have diabetes (or are at risk), and it should not be consumed by infants.
It’s often seen as a healthy alternative to sugar and it is, to an extent, but it’s still something you should consume in moderation.