Terrorists probably come to mind long before honey when people think of Yemen, but the raw Yemeni honey Balqees had for sale at the recent Masdar Festival was far and away the yummiest honey I ever put in my mouth. Read below to learn more about 8 varieties of Balqees company sells and what makes them so special.
1. Yemeni Sidr Do’ani
The Sidr tree, also known as Christ’s Thorn or the Jujube tree, has featured prominently in the Middle East region – the Pharaohs even used its wood to build some of their historically brilliant structures; it is also ubiquitous in Southern Yemen, particularly in Wadi Do’an. According to Balqees, thousands of semi-nomadic beekeepers gather twice a year to collect Sidr honey from the mountains in this remote desert region
2. Yemini Sidr Usaimi
Cooler than Wadi Do’ani, Usaimat is located in northern Yemen, where the resilient Sidr tree also grows en masse. But because the soil and climate are different, this honey with the same medicinal properties has a slightly different flavor.
3. Yemeni Sumar Honey
As you might have guessed, this honey is named after the Sumar tree in the Hadramout region. Said to be one of Balqees’ more popular varieties, Sumar honey is said to have more of a caramel tone without being excessively sweet.
4. Yemeni Sidr Wasabi
It isn’t green and it isn’t spicy, but Sidr Wasabi honey from the Wasab region between the north and south of Yemen has a very rich toffee and butterfly flavor that distinguishes it from Baqees’ other honey types. This is thanks to the area’s unique soil and climate. The Sidr tree goes wild here.
5. Yemeni Wildflower Honey
Wildflowers grow in one of the remaining areas in Yemen that is not polluted – also in the Hadramout region, which means honey harvested in this region takes its unique flavor not only from the flowers combined with the climate. This may be one of the most delicate and sweet smelling of the company’s offerings.
6. Yemeni Herbal Honey Fusion
This fusion is comprised of royal jelly, propolis, ginseng and ginger with a Sumar honey base. Balqees claims this mix has “amazing healing properties and strengthens the immune system” and delivers a “powerhouse of energy, vitamins and minerals.”
7. Raw Honey, Cinnamon and Sesame Seed Fusion
Commonly used as an alternative treatment in both oriental and Ayurvedic medicine, both honey and cinnamon are known to have a plethora of healing properties. Combined, they are potent. Raw Yemini honey is combined with Organic Ceylon cinnamon from Sri Lanka and a few sesame seeds to deliver a sweet spread with a nutty flavor.
8. Raw Honey and Royal Jelly Fusion
Balqees enriches Raw Yemeni Honey with Royal Jelly, which is left unprocessed in order to retain all of its organic attributes. This appears to be the company’s most nutritiously potent fusion. “It is an instant energy building food containing remarkable amounts of vitamins, proteins, lipids, glucides, enzymes, mineral substances, amino acids, antibacterial and antibiotic components,” the company states in their brochure. It is also said to help cell regeneration and preserve youth.
(Not featured here is a Saffron honey mix that Balqees had for sale at the Masdar City Festival. The saffron comes from Iran and gives the raw honey such a gentle but distinctive flavor – so subtle, so delicious.)
Founded by Riath Hamed, who has spent a lifetime cultivating his sweet tooth and who traces his roots to and spent a year in Yemen, Balqees works with local apiaries and small scale beekeepers – ensuring not only superior quality, but also a sustainable development.
“What experience taught me is that to guarantee the quality of my honey, I needed to have my own apiaries. I went into business with a Yemeni honey producer, who is renowned in the industry and made an exclusive deal with him and his farms. That way I know I am going to get the very best,” Hamed told The National in early 2013.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in Yemen with the beekeepers, tasting the honey and learning from beekeepers who have been in the industry for generations. They helped me to understand the nuances of the honey, the regional variations, how to know when the honey has been adulterated or when it is absolutely pure.”
Images © Tafline Laylin; visit Balqees Honey for more information