14 Fascinating Facts About Manuka Honey You Didn’t Know

If you haven’t heard of Manuka Honey, you have been living under a rock. It’s the new “liquid gold”. Scarlett Johanson, Kourtney Kardashian, and Gwyneth Paltrow swear by it. There are facial cleansers, facial masks, and hair conditioners made with this honey. It’s pretty evident that there has been an increased interest in everything Manuka, and the honey has surprisingly sustained its popularity despite being unbelievably pricey – thanks to its many medicinal properties. Before you join the buzz and get your own jar of Manuka honey, here are the answers to every possible question you had about it.

questions about manuka honey answered

1. Manuka flowers bloom for only a short period in a year

Though Manuka shrubs are spread all across New Zealand, they all bloom only for about two to six weeks during the spring/start of summer which is between the start of December and the mid of January. Mid-December, when the rest of the world is busy prepping for Christmas, is when the bees of New Zealand get super busy sucking the nectar out from the white Manuka flowers. Each flower is in bloom for just five days, so the worker bees really have to flap hard and fetch the maximum possible nectar to keep their queen happy.

2. Though Manuka is native to New Zealand, the bees that produce the honey are not

New Zealand has about 28 native species of bees, but none of them are honey bees. Which means that they don’t have a colony, a hive, or even a queen. They do not collect honey but only help with the pollination of crops. The kind of bees that produce the delicious Manuka honey is the European bees, which were introduced in New Zealand in 1839. This species of bees are called Apis Mellifera and is one of the most common honey bee species in the world.

3. Manuka honey is solely a product of New Zealand

Over the years, there has been a lot of debate among beekeepers in Australia and New Zealand around the topic: how can Manuka Honey be only a product of New Zealand when the Manuka shrub essentially grows in Australia as well? According to New Zealand beekeepers, the term Manuka is a Maori word which is native to New Zealand – and since they have done a great body of work to promote the honey and bring huge credibility to the word ‘Manuka’, it would be unfair for Australians to sell their honey by the same name.

The case went to the court, and the UK trademark registry granted certification for Manuka honey from New Zealand – just a guarantee for customers that the honey they buy is indeed full of the medicinal properties of Manuka. The Australian Manuka honey does not have this certification. So, well, when buying Manuka, as of now, it’s safe to look for a product from New Zealand.

4. But is there any difference between New Zealand manuka honey and Australian manuka honey?

Manuka shrubs grow both in New Zealand and Australia. They are just called by different names – Manuka in New Zealand, tea tree, or jelly bush in Australia. But when it comes to the medicinal properties and taste of the honey itself, there is hardly any difference. In fact, scientists have conducted tests and found that the Australian version of manuka honey could be more powerful, as reported on ABC News.

New Zealand beekeepers say that while their manuka honey comes solely from the manuka shrub, the Australian one comes from several species of the same genus, as reported in The New York Times. And that, essentially, is not a good manuka honey.

5. Manuka honey can be monofloral or multi-floral, but there is a big difference

Monofloral, as the name implies, refers to honey produced from the nectar of only the Manuka flowers. Multi-floral, on the other hand, will include honey produced from other flowers besides Manuka – but with Manuka flower’s nectar being the predominant one. Monofloral Manuka honey has higher antimicrobial strength than multi-floral Manuka honey.

Now, to package and sell honey with the name Manuka on it, at least 70 percent of the pollen content must be from the Manuka bush.

6. Decide which manuka honey bottle to get by looking at its NPA rating

Any type of honey, in general, has an enzyme called glucose oxidase. This assists in the oxidation of glucose to produce hydrogen peroxide. You might be familiar with the use of hydrogen peroxide as a bleaching agent and an antiseptic. So honey is a great antiseptic because of the presence of this chemical compound, as explained on Biosota Organics website.

But hydrogen peroxide can only be used for minor cuts and injuries. Why? Because it breaks down when exposed to bodily fluids such as blood. Also, it is quite sensitive to light and high temperature, and when exposed to these, it can lead to the loss of its antimicrobial activity.

Besides hydrogen peroxide, yet another chemical compound called methylglyoxal or MGO also has a high amount of antimicrobial effect. And the latter can even withstand high temperatures, intense light, and blood! The level of MGO in honey determines its non-peroxide activity or NPA.

So NPA is associated with the amount of MGO. For honey that has an MGO of over 260, the NPA rating is over 10. What this means is that the honey has the antimicrobial strength of a solution with a 10 percent phenol concentration. 

In short, it would be wise to get honey with a high NPA rating.

7. Manuka Honey has an intense taste

The honey has a taste that stays with you. It’s quite sweet and has a bitter aftertaste to it. You might even taste some earthy and herbal notes in it.

8. You can smell it even before you taste it

Manuka Honey has a subtle smell of the Manuka flower, which is very inviting – especially if you want to use it as a face mask.

9. Sometimes Manuka is sold with added propolis

Regular Manuka honey does not contain propolis. But raw Manuka Honey can come with pollen and propolis. Also, there are brands that sell Manuka honey with added propolis. If it’s present, it would be mentioned on the bottle.

Propolis is a sticky substance that bees collect from different trees, and use to build their beehive. It’s what keeps their home at a set temperature of about 95 F. Propolis, like honey, has antibacterial properties, according to a paper published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information. They contain a ton of vitamins and helpful nutrients that help the body be in its best form.

10. Don’t add Manuka honey to boiling water

While Manuka honey can be mixed with warm water, boiling water is a complete no as it destroys all the enzymes that give Manuka honey its unique antimicrobial property in the first place.

11. They might rhyme but Melaleuca honey is different from Manuka honey

Besides the fact that they rhyme, the two honey types have another common connection: they both are made from flowers that belong to the tea tree family: the Myrtaceae botanical family. While Manuka Honey is made from the Manuka shrubs in New Zealand, Melaleuca honey is made from the Melaleuca trees that grow in the Florida Everglades.

But interestingly, Melaleuca trees are native to Australia. While both Manuka and Melaleuca honey have impressive antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, Melaleuca is much sweeter than Manuka – almost like maple syrup – and has a distinct smell.

12. Manuka honey stays well at room temperature

Manuka Honey doesn’t need to be refrigerated. As with any other honey, when too cold, it can crystallize to a hard mass. At the same time, be careful not to expose it to excess heat, as it can destroy essential antimicrobial properties. The best option is to keep it in your pantry at room temperature, making sure that it’s in an airtight bottle and free of any moisture.

13. Manuka honey has its own quality grading system

UMF or Unique Manuka Factor is a system to grade the quality of Manuka honey. The higher the rating, the higher the level of Methylglyoxal (the compound which gives the honey its antibacterial properties). According to Healthline, Manuka honey UMF ranges anywhere between 5 and 20 plus.

A rating of above 10 means the honey has impressive antimicrobial properties, and above 20 can even fight certain strains of bacteria that are drug-resistant. But Manuka South, a honey company based in New Zealand, launched a limited edition of Manuka Honey with a UMF rating of 32 plus, in 2021.

14. Which are some UMF certified manuka honey brands?

Since the demand for Manuka Honey has gone up exponentially in recent years, there are a lot of fake Manuka honey jars doing the rounds. In order to filter them out, and only buy the genuine ones, beekeepers and honey exporters have decided to get the UMF quality trademark, which ensures that you are getting the value for your buck. Some of the companies that are licensed to sport the UMF trademark on their bottles include:

  1. SummerGlow Apiaries Limited
  2. Rare New Zealand Limited
  3. Arataki Honey Limited (Rotorua)
  4. Kiva Health Food
  5. Arataki Honey Limited (Hawke’s Bay)
  6. Waitemata Honey Co Limited
  7. Haines Apiaries 2007 Limited
  8. Comvita New Zealand Limited
  9. Mossops Honey New Zealand
  10. Natural Solutions Limited
  11. Katikati Honey & Bee Centre Limited
  12. Prolife Foods Ltd (Mother Earth)
  13. The Honey Collection Limited
  14. Cammell’s Honey Limited
  15. Kiwigold Ltd
  16. 100% Pure New Zealand Honey Limited
  17. Bees Inn Apiaries
  18. Rekahoney Co Ltd trading as Whakaari International
  19. Honey New Zealand (International) Ltd
  20. 1839 Ltd
  21. ApiHealth NZ Ltd
  22. New Zealand Health Food Company Ltd
  23. Endeavour Consumer Health Ltd
  24. New Zealand Mānuka Limited (NZ Mānuka)
  25. NZ Bees 2021 Ltd
  26. Mānuka Health New Zealand Limited
  27. Savage Horticulture Ltd
  28. NZ Focus NZ Ltd
  29. Taku Honey
  30. Stellare Merchants Ltd
  31. Swift Health Food (Singapore) Pte Ltd
  32. Egmont Honey
  33. Streamland Honey Group Limited
  34. Melora Limited
  35. GO Healthy New Zealand Ltd
  36. NZ Honey Group Ltd
  37. New Zealand Natural Care Products Ltd
  38. Honey Droplet
  39. Mānuka Honey NZ
  40. Aulando NZ Ltd
  41. LS Health Ltd
  42. Tahi Estate Ltd
  43. King Honey Limited
  44. Mizland
  45. Icing International Ltd
  46. North Valley Natural Health NZ Ltd
  47. Alpine Silk
  48. Melita Honey Ltd
  49. Oravida NZ Ltd
  50. Vitamore Ltd
  51. Deep Blue Health NZ Ltd
  52. New Zealand Honey Co Ltd
  53. S&N International Pte Ltd
  54. Taylor Pass Honey Co.
  55. Honey Farm Pte Ltd
  56. Tai Tokerau Honey Ltd
  57. Pure Mānuka Honey (Three Peaks)
  58. BeeNZ Ltd
  59. KiwiCorp Products Ltd
  60. Kare Ltd
  61. PA & SC Steens Ltd
  62. Koha NZ Foods Group Limited
  63. Honey and Herbs NZ Ltd
  64. NZ Bees
  65. Barton Holdings Limited
  66. Superbee Honey Factory
  67. Ling Hai Group Ltd
  68. Orafoods
  69. Yobees Honey Ltd
  70. Wilderness Valley Ltd
  71. Natural Farm Group
  72. Mānuka Honey USA
  73. NZ MISSILAND LIMITED
  74. Natural Sweetness
  75. Onuku Ltd
  1. NZ Gold Health Ltd
  2. Furuuchi Kamejiro Shoten Co Ltd
  3. Obeca Group Ltd
  4. Ka Noa Honey
  5. Biohealth Ltd
  6. Milk New Zealand Dairy
  7. RBK Nutraceuticals
  8. CATALO Natural Health Foods Ltd
  9. Pouatu Mānuka Limited
  10. Mana Kai Ltd
  11. L’ABEILLE
  12. a2 Infant Nutrition Limited
  13. Bella New Zealand Mānuka Honey
  14. Koa Honey Ltd
  15. Forest Gold Honey Ltd
  16. NAC Trading Ltd
  17. Turners International Marketing (NZ) Limited
  18. New Zealand Family Healthcare Ltd
  19. Mellifera Honey Ltd
  20. Waiuku Flora Ltd
  21. Nutrizone Limited
  22. H. W Traditional Medicine Pte Ltd
  23. Waireka Honey (2012) Ltd
  24. NZ Kookbear Natural Foods Group Ltd
  25. Owhaoko A East and A1B Blocks Trust
  26. Ocean King
  27. Nectar Health Ltd
  28. Midlands Apiaries Ltd
  29. The True Honey Co Limited
  30. Whenua Honey Limited
  31. 3Bee Ltd
  32. Treasure International Ltd
  33. Settlers Honey Limited
  34. Gibbs Honey Company Limited
  35. Honey Mother Ltd
  36. Kangsbee Honey Trading Limited
  37. Nga Pi Honey Ltd
  38. Kogan Australia Pty Ltd
  39. New Zealand Manuka Apiculture Limited
  40. First Health Products Pte Ltd
  41. Smoking Joe NZ Limited
  42. Honey Solutions Limited
  43. Atihau Whanganui Incorporation
  44. Flora Manufacturing & Distributing Ltd
  45. Wadi Mānuka Ltd
  46. Mānuka Wellbeing
  47. Knopf Honey Ltd
  48. Waitakaruru Honey Ltd
  49. New Zealand Made Ltd
  50. Manuka Drops Ltd
  51. Nature’s Farm Pte Ltd
  52. Amway (China) E-Commerce Co. Ltd
  53. Tweeddale’s Honey
  54. New Image Group
  55. JK14 Limited
  56. Plentyland
  57. Center of Eden
  58. Aoraki Peak
  59. Aotearoa Manuka Honey Limited
  60. Mountain Gold Manuka
  61. Antler Farms NZ Limited
  62. Manuka Home
  63. ManuKare
  64. High Peak Estate
  65. Blossom Hill Farm
  66. Manuka Royale
  67. NZ Native Honey Products
  68. Central Honey NZ Ltd
  69. Zestt Wellness Limited
  70. NZBC

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