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.
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:
- SummerGlow Apiaries Limited
- Rare New Zealand Limited
- Arataki Honey Limited (Rotorua)
- Kiva Health Food
- Arataki Honey Limited (Hawke’s Bay)
- Waitemata Honey Co Limited
- Haines Apiaries 2007 Limited
- Comvita New Zealand Limited
- Mossops Honey New Zealand
- Natural Solutions Limited
- Katikati Honey & Bee Centre Limited
- Prolife Foods Ltd (Mother Earth)
- The Honey Collection Limited
- Cammell’s Honey Limited
- Kiwigold Ltd
- 100% Pure New Zealand Honey Limited
- Bees Inn Apiaries
- Rekahoney Co Ltd trading as Whakaari International
- Honey New Zealand (International) Ltd
- 1839 Ltd
- ApiHealth NZ Ltd
- New Zealand Health Food Company Ltd
- Endeavour Consumer Health Ltd
- New Zealand Mānuka Limited (NZ Mānuka)
- NZ Bees 2021 Ltd
- Mānuka Health New Zealand Limited
- Savage Horticulture Ltd
- NZ Focus NZ Ltd
- Taku Honey
- Stellare Merchants Ltd
- Swift Health Food (Singapore) Pte Ltd
- Egmont Honey
- Streamland Honey Group Limited
- Melora Limited
- GO Healthy New Zealand Ltd
- NZ Honey Group Ltd
- New Zealand Natural Care Products Ltd
- Honey Droplet
- Mānuka Honey NZ
- Aulando NZ Ltd
- LS Health Ltd
- Tahi Estate Ltd
- King Honey Limited
- Icing International Ltd
- North Valley Natural Health NZ Ltd
- Alpine Silk
- Melita Honey Ltd
- Oravida NZ Ltd
- Vitamore Ltd
- Deep Blue Health NZ Ltd
- New Zealand Honey Co Ltd
- S&N International Pte Ltd
- Taylor Pass Honey Co.
- Honey Farm Pte Ltd
- Tai Tokerau Honey Ltd
- Pure Mānuka Honey (Three Peaks)
- BeeNZ Ltd
- KiwiCorp Products Ltd
- Kare Ltd
- PA & SC Steens Ltd
- Koha NZ Foods Group Limited
- Honey and Herbs NZ Ltd
- NZ Bees
- Barton Holdings Limited
- Superbee Honey Factory
- Ling Hai Group Ltd
- Yobees Honey Ltd
- Wilderness Valley Ltd
- Natural Farm Group
- Mānuka Honey USA
- NZ MISSILAND LIMITED
- Natural Sweetness
- Onuku Ltd
- NZ Gold Health Ltd
- Furuuchi Kamejiro Shoten Co Ltd
- Obeca Group Ltd
- Ka Noa Honey
- Biohealth Ltd
- Milk New Zealand Dairy
- RBK Nutraceuticals
- CATALO Natural Health Foods Ltd
- Pouatu Mānuka Limited
- Mana Kai Ltd
- a2 Infant Nutrition Limited
- Bella New Zealand Mānuka Honey
- Koa Honey Ltd
- Forest Gold Honey Ltd
- NAC Trading Ltd
- Turners International Marketing (NZ) Limited
- New Zealand Family Healthcare Ltd
- Mellifera Honey Ltd
- Waiuku Flora Ltd
- Nutrizone Limited
- H. W Traditional Medicine Pte Ltd
- Waireka Honey (2012) Ltd
- NZ Kookbear Natural Foods Group Ltd
- Owhaoko A East and A1B Blocks Trust
- Ocean King
- Nectar Health Ltd
- Midlands Apiaries Ltd
- The True Honey Co Limited
- Whenua Honey Limited
- 3Bee Ltd
- Treasure International Ltd
- Settlers Honey Limited
- Gibbs Honey Company Limited
- Honey Mother Ltd
- Kangsbee Honey Trading Limited
- Nga Pi Honey Ltd
- Kogan Australia Pty Ltd
- New Zealand Manuka Apiculture Limited
- First Health Products Pte Ltd
- Smoking Joe NZ Limited
- Honey Solutions Limited
- Atihau Whanganui Incorporation
- Flora Manufacturing & Distributing Ltd
- Wadi Mānuka Ltd
- Mānuka Wellbeing
- Knopf Honey Ltd
- Waitakaruru Honey Ltd
- New Zealand Made Ltd
- Manuka Drops Ltd
- Nature’s Farm Pte Ltd
- Amway (China) E-Commerce Co. Ltd
- Tweeddale’s Honey
- New Image Group
- JK14 Limited
- Center of Eden
- Aoraki Peak
- Aotearoa Manuka Honey Limited
- Mountain Gold Manuka
- Antler Farms NZ Limited
- Manuka Home
- High Peak Estate
- Blossom Hill Farm
- Manuka Royale
- NZ Native Honey Products
- Central Honey NZ Ltd
- Zestt Wellness Limited