Updated: 17 Nov, 2023
The London Honey Awards are a prestigious event held annually for honey from countries across the world. Over the last three years, Manawa Honey has consistently won top awards on this world-stage for honey.
In total our honeys from the heart of Te Urewera forest in New Zealand have won 1 Platinum, 4 Gold and 1 Silver. So, it’s a great thrill for us to share what and how we have achieved these highest standards of honey quality, confirming that our honey is right up there with the best in the world.
This article will cover:
The London Honey Awards are designed to promote quality in branded retail honey products, so only branded honey ready to be sold to the public or available in retail stores is eligible to participate. The event for these awards is held in London each year. The awards attract entries from brands and producers in over 30 countries across the world, with the majority of entries from Europe and the Middle East, so this truly is a competition for honey on an international stage.
The objectives of the London Honey Awards are stated in their regulations (1) to be
- To inform honey producers, processors and retailers, who distribute their standardized products legally, to preserve and to ameliorate the quality of their branded product by promoting high quality honey in every aspect of the spectrum of its use and consumption.
- Promoting knowledge on the special value and the healthy/nutritional properties of honey to new and younger consumers (schools), to professional pastry chefs, artisans, with emphasis to gastronomy & culinary art schools and to restaurants.
- The promotion of the high quality of honey produced with the aim of advancing the knowledge of their tasting differences.
The London Honey Awards is not a contest with an overall winner, so in a sense, entries are not actually competing against each other. The products are evaluated based on their distinct and individual properties, and so the awards are about gaining a mark of assurance on quality.
The London Honey Awards has two sections – one for Honey Quality Awards (focused on honey quality), and the other for Design Honey Awards (focused on the packaging and labelling of the product). We entered the Honey Quality Awards with all four of our range of Honeys of Te Urewera – Mānuka MG100+, Tāwari, Rewarewa and Pua-ā-Tāne Wild Forest Honey.
To enter the Honey Quality Awards, the requirements include that you must have at least 500kg of honey ready and available for sale at the time of entry. For each entry, we were also required to submit chemical analysis certificates by an approved laboratory for the following tests:
- Sugar (content%): Fructose, Glucose, Sucrose, Sum of fructose and glucose
- Diastase activity (Schade scale/g)
- Electrical conductivity (mS/cm)
- Pollen spectrum
- Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) content (mg/kg).
The “blind” method is used for tasting the honey samples, so the entries are presented anonymously without packaging and without any type of distinctive feature visible. Each honey entry is given a code number to ensure it can be reliably traced in the competition process.
The honey samples are evaluated by a number of panels of judges convened by an overall co-ordinating committee. Each judge undertakes an organoleptic analysis of the honey entries against criteria the general sense of enjoyment (which weighs the most in the final rating); appearance; odour; texture; flavour and mouth-feel.
Patsy Carnell, one of the judges for this competiton, describes in her article about honey judging the process used in this competition in interesting detail:
Ten of us…spent a long full day tasting samples sent to London from around the globe…Unlike standard UK honey shows where a first second and third prize are favoured, our role was to judge each honey independently.
Blind tasting using ‘organoleptic analysis’ of each sample evaluating several characteristics and giving them a numerical rating. With a form listing headings including ‘presentation’, ‘clarity’, ‘aroma’ and ‘gustatory sensation’ we had a strict procedure to follow with each sample. Marking each of the six categories out of 100, a calculation using a coefficient fraction was then made before adding the totals together giving a final mark. This ensured that the total mark was no higher than 100.
The honey samples were each taken from their original jars into a covered wine glass… Monday saw a long and full day tasting honeys in groups of 4 or 5. Each table of judges worked together combining our scores for each sample, then discussing any discrepancies to agree a final mark for each honey. After four hours of honey tasting and judging we broke for lunch…The afternoon saw us working our way through a further 27 honeys.
With all our varied backgrounds and experience, the comprehensive evaluation form ensured that almost all of our decisions were unanimous. Where we had a wider discrepancy, we would go through all of our assessments and calculations, discussing why each of us had given a certain value. Our final scores were added together and a mean calculated which would be the final score.
To maintain a clear palate, we would only drink water and had fresh green apples to eat in between honeys. As honey is hydrophilic, we all consumed a vast quantity of water through the day.
Out of the 48 honeys our group tasted, there were only three outstanding honeys, that we were able to award Gold or Platinum status. At the other end of the scale there were only a few that were rejected due to fermentation or contamination. Overall the standard was impressive, and I would be happy to include most of them in my personal collection.
At Manawa Honey we’re keen to enter our honey into international contests, so the London Honey Awards make a good fit. So it was in early 2021, that we first sent some of our honeys to London to enter these awards, along with the required test results, ready for the judging of the awards later in this year.
In 2021, there were hundreds of other honeys entered in the London Honey Awards from 39 countries from across the world, including entries from Manawa Honey and other New Zealand brands. So we knew when we entered this competition that we were to be compared against some great entries on a truly international stage.
Our Mānuka MG100+ Honey won Gold in the London Honey Awards in 2021. Mānuka is a rich amber honey with earthy undertones, and comes from the Mānuka tree found on the edges of our forest throughout Te Urewera.
Mānuka Honey is world-famous for its unique healing and health-giving properties, stemming from properties of the Mānuka tree that our ancestors used in traditional medicinal treatments.
Our Mānuka MG100+ Honey also won Gold in the NZ Outstanding Food Producers in 2021. Judges in this competition described it as a ‘beautiful product’ with ‘unique characteristics’ and ‘release of flavours as it melts’. Certainly, we know our customers tell us it is the best!
Our Tāwari Honey also sat up alongside our Mānuka Honey by winning Gold at the London Honey Awards.
Tāwari is a creamy light honey with hints of butterscotch and sometimes liquorice – stunning! This honey is rare, coming from groves of the Tāwari tree deep within our vast indigenous forest, Te Urewera.
Our Tāwari Honey has been recognised before on the international stage. It was a finalist in the 10th Black Jar International Honey Tasting Contest for the World’s Best Tasting Honey, held in Asheville, USA, in 2021, and also won Gold at the NZ Outstanding Food Producers Awards. In this competition, the judges found our Tāwari Honey to have a ‘caramel floral note, a sweetness that is balanced, a richness to the flavour’.
Our Rewarewa Honey won Silver at the London Honey Awards. Now this was a bit of a surprise for us because in 2021 it also won Grand First Prize in the 10th Black Jar International Honey Tasting Contest held in Asheville, USA. This win places the mantle of the Best Tasting Honey in the World on our Rewarewa Honey, which we proudly bore for 2021-22.
Our Rewarewa Honey also won Silver Medals in the NZ Outstanding Food Producers Awards in 2021, with judges commenting that it has a ‘depth of flavour, intense and floral’.
Our Rewarewa Honey is produced from the stunning indigenous honeysuckle tree from the pristine forests of Te Urewera. It packs a punch of beneficial properties, with a deep colour and a rich, full flavour, that we know now tops the world for taste.
Our Pua-ā-Tāne Wild Forest Honey won Silver at the London Honey Awards, to give us in total four awards in this year’s competition.
Pua-ā-Tāne means the bounty of Tāne, the God of our forest. This honey is a fusion of wild forest tree honeys, as the bees make it, from deep in the heart of our homeland, Te Urewera.
Each season brings into this unique honey varying combinations of forest nectars such as Rewarewa, Tāwari, Tawhero, Hinau, Kānuka and Mānuka. So Pua-ā-Tāne truly is a unique reflection of the bounty of our diverse rain forest.
Our Pua-ā-Tāne Wild Forest Honey was a Finalist in the 10th Black Jar International Honey Contest, USA, and also won Bronze in NZ Outstanding Food Producers Awards in 2021.
In 2022, we entered a new addition to our range at that time, Mānuka MGO 200+, for the London Honey Awards. This honey is quite special because it not only has a great taste like our Mānuka MG100+ Honey, but it also has twice the concentration of methylglyoxal content, giving this honey a stronger medicinal punch in its properties. We were just unsure how the judges for these awards would find this honey with earthy medicinal taste that is characteristic of higher MGO Mānuka honeys.
We also took our Rewarewa Honey back into the awards for that year as we know that this honey deserved a better award than Silver that it had won in 2021.
We recently gained three awards in the London International Honey Quality Competition:
It’s a real honour to win a Platinum Award for the first time, for our Raw Mānuka MGO 400+. We were particularly thrilled with this result because Manuka Honey has a complex earthy taste and we presented this honey raw, with some crystallisation.
This is the first time that we have entered raw honeys into this prestigious competition and it is a great result for them all to come back with these awards. Our Raw Kānuka Honey gained top 10 in the World’s Best Tasting Honey Contest in the US in 2022, so we know it is a great honey. Now it has a Gold at the London Honey Awards to complement its standing.
Our Maunga Honey is a special edition produced by our beehives located in the valley below the revered mountain of our tribe, Maungapōhatu. This honey was also presented raw for the London Honey Awards. It has quite a different taste, as it is a fusion of hīnau, rātā and tawhero honeys from the forests of that region.
Maunga Honey is also rare. The combination of honeys collected by our bees from this region depends not only on what is flowering in a particular season but also on what is not flowering. The particular combination of flowering and not-flowering delivers this honey only once in several years.
Maunga Honey has also been previously recognised at the NZ Artisan Awards in 2022 where it won GOLD.
At Manawa Honey, we specialise in producing exquisite native tree honeys from our homeland forest, Te Urewera. Manawa means heart and that’s what drives us. We’re proud to present honeys from the rhythms of our ancient forest, from our tribe Tūhoe to people across the world.
Our range of honeys includes Mānuka in a range of MGO grades, Kānuka, Rewarewa, Tāwari, Maunga and Pua-ā-Tāne Wild Forest Honey. These are all now well established as honeys of the highest quality, winning awards in competitions not just in New Zealand but also out on the international stage.
You can find more about our international awards for honey in our blog about the ‘World’s Best Tasting Honey’ that lays out our wins in the 10th Black Jar International Honey Tasting Contest held in Asheville, USA in 2021. Our honeys have also won numerous awards in the NZ Outstanding Food Producer Awards and NZ Artisan Awards. .
Our customers repeatedly tell us how wonderful our honeys are, but we know that we need to provide further assurance for all our current and new customers that our honeys truly are of the highest quality. So, we will continue to take up opportunities to enter international competitions to gain this assurance and to continue to build the reputation of our range of Honeys of Te Urewera.
|Brenda Tahi draws on a range of areas in her diverse experience for her writing. She has an MBA in Strategic Management from Henley College (UK) and has had careers in public sector management and governance in New Zealand. Brenda has also published research in topics ranging from public sector management policy to Māori history and traditional knowledge. Brenda is a trustee for the Tuawhenua Trust of Ruatāhuna, and, drawing on her hobby beekeeping, she was part of founding Manawa Honey NZ, of which she is now CEO.