It’s perfectly okay to be confused about honey white. Even Google has problems with it. A quick Google search returns several possible leads, among them the 1995 classic song, Honey White, by the alternative rock band, Morphine. The lyrics of the song which are helpfully provided in several You Tube videos describe honey white as angel’s food.
If music is not your thing, Google points out that you could think of honey white as part of a recipe for honey white bread. And if you are the kind of person who does not like to live on bread alone, you can think of honey white as the name of a certain website whose one-line description leaves no doubt that it is the sort of site you would not want your parents to know you have ever heard of.
So, yes, honey white could be anything.
The Real White Honey
It is much easier to pin down white honey – as distinct from honey white. There are three kinds of it. The best known in the US is the white honey from Hawaii. Then there is the white honey from Ethiopia. And, finally, there is creamed or whipped honey which is normal honey that has been expertly crystallized into a whitish, creamy honey. Here’s a brief introduction to each type:
• Hawaii White Honey: The honey harvested from Kiawe Forest in Hawaii is distinctly pearly white. The forest is in a sandy area with near desert conditions and the dominant local tree – the tall Kiawe tree – is a hardy tree with deep tap roots. That partly explains the peculiar nectar of the Kiawe flowers that results in white honey with a special flavor. For some reason, honey made from this tree crystallizes quickly and naturally into small, fairly uniform whitish crystals. In fact, harvesting the Kiawe honey is a delicate affair that has to be done quickly before the honey totally crystallizes on the comb. When that happens, only heating can extract the honey from the comb, a process that damages the white color and the special taste.
• Ethiopian White Honey: The north eastern African country of Ethiopia is a honey country. It is the biggest honey producer in Africa and the fourth largest in the world – and its national drink, the tej, is made from honey. The pride of Ethiopian honey is a snow-white honey that is harvested in the rocky, parched slopes and peaks of the country’s highlands. It is the world’s only really white honey because it is produced that way by the bees – it does not turn white because of crystallization. And it is sweeter and a lot waxier than normal yellow or brown honey. The exceptional sparkling white color is a result of the region’s high altitude flowers. In years when the weather is drier than normal and the bees have to descent to lower parts of the mountains, they produce normal dark brown honey.
Incidentally, these Ethiopian ‘white’ mountains are not only the home of white honey but also the source of the White Nile, the second largest tributary of the mighty Nile.
Creamed honey: This is normal shades-of-brown honey that has been ‘whipped’ into a whitish, easy to spread honey. The process involves crystallizing the honey into uniformly small crystals that give the honey that white hue. For a more complete look at creamed honey, see our blog, How to Make Creamed Honey.