The London Honey Awards are a prestigious event held annually for honey from countries across the world. At Manawa Honey, we’ve recently came off the back of becoming the ‘World’s Best Tasting Honey’ through winning the 10th Black Jar International Honey Tasting Contest decided in June 2021 in Asheville, USA. And earlier in the year, we won Gold and other medals in the NZ Outstanding Food Producer Awards.
So, it’s a great thrill for us to now make another exciting announcement. All four of our Honeys of Te Urewera entered into the London Honey Awards won awards in 2021, confirming that our honey is definitely right up there with the best in the world.
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The London Honey Awards are designed to promote quality in branded retail honey products and 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, so this is a competition for honey on an international stage.
The objectives of the London Honey Awards are stated in their regulations 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.
At Manawa Honey we were keen to enter our honey into an international contest, so the London Honey Awards made a good fit. So it was that in early 2021, we sent our entries along with the required tests to London for the judging of the awards later in this year.
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.
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.
We entered all four of our unique range of Honeys of Te Urewera in the London Honey Awards. And each one of them won an award.
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 was a finalist in the 10th Black Jar International Honey Tasting Contest for the World’s Best Tasting Honey, held in Asheville, USA, 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 this year 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 bear 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.
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 of Te Urewera includes Rewarewa, Mānuka, Tāwari 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 here in New Zealand but also out on the international stage, including recently the London Honey 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.