Red Belly Honey stands out in the wild, wild west of CBD as a product that actually deserves your attention. 

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Redbelly CBD Honey
Credit: Matt Armendariz

I’m not sure when I became the unofficial CBD gal at Food & Wine. Somewhere, amidst all of the press releases that flood my inbox for sodas, seltzers, and gummies promising to help us chill out, I guess I found myself willing to give it a go. More often than not, these products don’t do very much for me, and they tend to taste a bit like, well, you know. The landscape of CBD is truly like the wild, wild west, so when I find something that actually delivers on its core promise, it’s worth talking about.

Enter Red Belly Honey. On first glance, the branding is minimal compared to the vaguely psychedelic, millenialized look of so many CBD items on the market. Grown-up CBD, I thought. As soon as I opened the jar, the fragrant, floral aromas reminded me of the fresh honey I brought back from Bermuda, where some friends keep bees in their backyard and dole out jars of liquid gold every year; it was clear that this was no lab-grown, chemical compound. 

They suggest a teaspoon-sized serving, which I've played with in a few different formats: mixed into my cup of evening Darjeeling tea, in a marinade for roasted brussels sprouts, and drizzled into a sidecar, which happens to be my favorite cocktail. The lack of bitterness (something that I've found all-too-often with other CBD products) was pleasantly surprising, and the subtle, caramelized sweetness tasted just like regular, high-quality honey. 

Personally, I think a lot of CBD over-promises and under-delivers. When I read through their recommendations to use a dollop of honey at bedtime for "a more restful sleep," I was skeptical, partially because many have tried and failed to achieve restful sleep in 2020, but also because so many CBD products lean heavily on sleep-related mission statements. But as I settled in to read a few chapters of my book with my honey-sweetened tea by my side, I did genuinely feel calmer. Since then, it's become a bit of a ritual, and while I haven't yet tested the honey as a topical for sore joints or muscle aches, I'm optimistic that I'll reach for it once I get back into the gym.

Sure, it’s virtually impossible to tell between a placebo effect and the real deal, but if something feels like it’s doing good things for you, tastes good, and doesn’t have a lot of gross chemicals and random additives inside, is it worth using? I say, absolutely.

Buy it: Red Belly Honey, $80 at redbellyhoney.com.