The 7 most expensive honeys in the world are:
- Elvish Honey from Turkey ($10,000/kg)
- Manuka Honey from New Zealand ($3,000/kg)
- Sidr Honey from Yemen ($1,200/kg)
- Tualang Honey from Malaysia ($800/kg)
- Himalayan Cliff Honey from Nepal ($320/kg)
- Honey from The Paris Opera House ($200/kg)
- Socotra Island Honey from Yemen ($160/kg)
Things that influence the price are the rarity of the plants/nectars, how difficult the honey is to harvest, the medicinal benefits, and the grade, purity and quality.
Honey has been prized for thousands of years by many civilizations, from the Greeks to the Egyptians to the Romans. Some even called it "the food of the gods" due to its golden creamy texture and ability to cure a variety of illnesses and infections.
This continues today, as some jars of honey are so rare or so useful that they command thousands of dollars per jar.
What are these special types of honey, and why are they so expensive?
In this post, we'll go through eight of the most expensive honeys in the world today, and what makes them so treasured by different cultures around the world.
1. Elvish Honey - $10,000/kg
Price: $7,000 USD/kg
Get it from: Elvish Honey
The special honey is extracted from a 1,800-meter deep cave in the Saricayir valley of Artvin city, northeastern Turkey.
One of the first people to discover this special Turkish cave honey stated: “With the help of professional climbers, we entered the deep bowels of the cave and found 18 kilograms of honey plastered on its spherical walls,”
The honey was later sent for analysis in France, which confirmed the honey to be approximately seven years old, and high in minerals.
This honey is excavated 2,500 meters above sea level, far away from any human residences and from any other bee colonies, and the nectar is dark in colour and has a bitter taste.
An Elvish honey produced by Turkish company Centauri Honey was officially given the Guinness World Record as the most expensive honey ever sold, at a price tag of approximately $10,000 per kilo.
2. Manuka Honey ($3,000/kg)
Origin: New Zealand
Price: $3,000 USD/kg for top grades
Get it from: Manuka South
Manuka Honey is a honey made from the nectar of manuka flowers, which are native to New Zealand.
It is well-known for its high levels of methylglyoxal (MGO), a unique compound that gives it strong antibacterial effectiveness. It is used as a wound treatment in hospitals in various countries, and numerous studies have demonstrated its ability to inhibit staph, MRSA, H Pylori, and other bacterias.
Manuka Honey comes in various grades, which are dependent on its MGO content. Lower grades (under UMF 20) can go for as little as $50 USD/kg, however, the highest grades can fetch up to $3,000/kg, such as this premium manuka honey from Manuka South.
Overall, Manuka Honey is not too difficult to find nowadays, and most producers in New Zealand export globally. However, it is still only produced in limited amounts, especially the higher purity batches, and it depends heavily on the manuka season and how long the flowers are in bloom.
Sidr Honey (Yemen)
Price: $600 - $1200 per kilogram
Get it from: Sacred Honey
Why Is It Expensive?
Sidr honey is sourced from the ancient and sacred Sidr tree (Ziziphus spina), found primarily in Yemen.
These trees grow wild in Yemeni forests, free from pesticides and pollution, and have strong and distinct smell that makes them a natural target for honeybees. While Sidr trees are not found exclusively in Yemen, the Yemeni forests are still the most secluded, purest and most unpolluted Sidr trees in the world, which explains the reputation and high price.
Sidr leaves have been used in Yemen for medicinal reasons for generations, and Sidr honey is a natural extension of that.
This honey is highly sought after for its rich taste, distinct aroma, and numerous medicinal properties.
Some studies have even found it has anti-cancer properties, and like most properties, is an effective antibacterial treatment.
Tualang Honey (Malaysia)
Price: $300 - $800 per kilogram
Get it from: Health Harvest Foods
Why is it expensive?
Tualang honey is created by the giant honey bee, Apis dorsata that is common in South and Southeast Asia. Their nests are built high off the ground, usually high in trees.
It just so happens that these bees can be found in Malaysia, which is also home to the Tualang tree, one of the tallest trees in the world.
Tualang trees can grow up to 250 feet tall, and this makes the perfect home for bees like the apis dorsata. Not only does the tree provide unique nectar, its unique towering height also keeps the hives safe from honey loving predators such as bears.
In fact, even professional honey hunters have a difficult time retrieving tualang beehives to harvest.
Tualang honey's unique dark colour and rich taste comes from the fact that it's a multifloral honey, and the Malaysian jungle where Tualang trees grow is extremely diverse.
Tualang honey actually contains more phenolics than manuka honey, and can be more effective against certain bacteria as well.
Himalayan Cliff Honey - aka "Mad Honey" (Nepal)
Price: $320 per kilogram
Get it from: Honey Nepal
Why Is It Expensive?
Himalayan Honey is harvested not by traditional beekeepers, but by "honey hunters" who scale the cliffs in Nepal for wild hives. This is an extremely dangerous endeavour, however, the prize is this rare honey in demand all over the world.
Himalayan Cliff Honey, also known as "mad honey", gets its name from the mild hallucinogenic effects it gives when eaten.
This compound responsible for this is the Rhododendron species of plant which grows commonly in the cliffs of the Himalayas. These plants produce grayanotoxins. Honey made from the nectar and so containing pollen of these plants also contains grayanotoxins which is what gives the honey its "high" effect.
Honey From The Roof Of The Paris Opera (Miel De Opera)
Price: $200 per kilogram
Get it from: The Paris Opera House
Why Is It Expensive?
The hives were started by beekeeping hobbyist Jean Paucton, who worked at the Paris Opera House at the time. He needed a place to store his hives until he returned to the countryside, and a janitor suggested he store them on the rooftop where the bees wouldn't bother anybody. Two weeks later he checked on them, and they were filled with honey! This started a trend of central city beekeeping in Paris, which is now popular citywide. The bees have the advantage of the city's many flower gardens, and no pesticides allowed in the central city. Paucton said in his NYT interview, ''They go to the chestnut trees in the Champs Élysée and the linden trees in the Palais Royal, and make more honey in the city than they do in the countryside."
Paucton retired in 2013, but the hives live on, and are now managed by MUGO.
Socotra Island Honey
Price: $160 per kilogram
Get it from: Wadi Shibam
Why Is It Expensive?
Socotra is an island around 350km off the coast of Yemen, however, it is actually considered to be part of Africa. The island is extremely isolated and unpolluted, and around a third of its plant life is not found anywhere else on earth. It is now a UNESCO heritage site and one of the world's prized bioreserves.
It is no surprise the hives on this island produce some of the most unique tasting honey on earth, as well as one of the rarest.
More research is needed, but Socotra honey has shown some benefit anecdotally for regulating blood sugar rather than spiking it, which makes it a unique honey for diabetics. This may further explain its unique flavour, which is equal parts bitter and sweet.