Honey made by bees visiting just one kind of plant's blossom is named after that plant. Clover, Orange Blossom, and Sage are all such varietal honeys. Sage honey, produced primarily in California, is made from nectar of any of the herbs of the genus Salvia. A unique taste, smell, and color accompany each variety, depending on the characteristics of the nectar.
These monofloral honeys, made from the nectar of one kind of plant, are further categorized by color. The lightest shades range from water white to white to light amber. Darker, thicker types include amber and dark brown. In general, white honey has a light, sweet, mild taste, while dark honey is rich with a more pronounced taste.
Chemicals are responsible for the varied characteristics, namely the type and amount of sugars and acids. Different kinds of sugar, such as glucose, fructose, and sucrose, exist in different ratios in flower nectar. The nectar of sage is exceptionally high in these sugars, with not as much water diluting the flavor. Amino acids also affect its taste.
The most popular varieties of sage among bees are found in Black Button, White, and Purple sage. The white flowers of the Black Button attract swarms in the Sierra Nevada mountains and California coasts. Southern California cultivates bushes of white blooms on White sage for most of the year. The darkest sage honey is made from the Purple sage in Texas. Bees collect the most nectar during peak blooming season, early spring to late summer.
Many varietal honeys can be tasted at farmer's markets, specialty stores, or through online retailers. Buyers should choose ones made by a raw, unfiltered method to get the freshest, most fragrant experience. Cooked or filtered honey may ruin the sense that the taster is dipping his or her finger right into a honeycomb.
Always store honey in an airtight container, away from light or extreme heat. Sage honey is especially valued for its high sugar content, which makes it thick and less likely to crystallize. A honey with more water might granulate sooner, but this process doesn't mean it has spoiled. Gently heat the jar by putting it in a bowl of hot water, and it will become smooth again.
Sage honey would be a perfect choice to make mead. This alcoholic drink has roots in ancient Rome, Egypt, and medieval Europe. When diluted with water and left at room temperature, the mixture ferments into a curious concoction.