Thyme or Thimios (Thymus common, latin Thymus vulgaris) is known to us all as a shrub with purple flowers. It blooms in late spring to early summer, for less than a month. The flowering can "roll" as the area separating the thyme in late and early.
In Greece, the most important species are:
- Agriothymari: Thymus Capitatus the cabbage.
- Chamothroumpi: Thymus Striatus.
- Smari: Thymos the Scales or Thymus Atticus
Etymologically thyme or thymus as the ancients called it, comes from the word thyo, which originally had the meaning of "emit smoke" and later the "sacrifice." From the same root come the words incense and incense.
Thyme is considered to be the top bee plant, because it gives an extremely aromatic honey with great nutritional value. The main component of the essential oil that thyme contains, is thymol (percentage above 25%). Thymol has antiseptic properties and has been the natural predecessor of modern antibiotics.
Thyme honey makes about six months to begin to crystallize, but crystallization can be delayed significantly if honey is rich in thyme and start even after two years (of course ... anyone who has thyme honey in his closet for two years doesn’t know much about honey ...!!!). This does not mean that any honey that crystallizes faster is of inferior quality.
Thyme honey is the main and perhaps the only harvest for certain areas of Greece and is considered to be the best quality honey, in areas such as the Cyclades islands as well as the wider area of Attica Keratea, where no other plants exist in the vicinity to become admixture of nectar for the same bee.
The thyme honey is a product difficult to produce, not so much because the colonies want some special preparation before harvest but because, as sturdy as the thyme plant is, the more sensitive the flower is.
The difficulty in collecting large quantities with the particularly pleasant flavor, makes thyme honey the most expensive in Greece. Prices may reach up to 30 euros per kilo. (kilo in beekeeping for an unknown reason is approx. 920 grams).
Thyme honey’s production is estimated to 10% of the total honey production in Greece and almost 1% of the global production.
Taste: Thyme honey has a pleasant taste, but sometimes, due to high concentration of fructose, leaves a burning sensation in the mouth.
Aroma: Intensely aromatic honey.
Colour: Usually pale amber. (The honey of Attica and of Cyclades islands is lighter than the honey of Crete, which is dark orange.)
Crystallization: Usually it crystallizes in between 6 and 18 months.
Nutritional value: Thyme honey is considered to have highly tonic and antiseptic properties.