What exactly is Manuka honey? And why is it so pricey?
Manuka honey is made from bees who pollinate a specific tree (coincidently called the Manuka tree) only found in New Zealand and Australia. The honey is very thick, with a distinct fragrant flavor and aroma.
Due to its popularity and relatively small supply (Manuka trees only flower for two to six weeks a year), Manuka honey sells at a premium.
When shopping for manuka honey, there are two acroonyms to consider: MGO and UMF.
Like all honey, manuka honey has antibacterial properties. Without getting too deep into the weeds of honey chemistry, one measure of this honey’s antibiotic concentrations is called MGO (methylglyoxal). Manuka honey ranges from 10 MGO (for culinary use) to 800 MGO, which some folks use for skin care and other purposes.
What is UMF? The Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) is a lab tested rating system New Zealand manufacturers use certify the potency of Manuka honey. Low grade honey has a UMF of 5 to 9. Medium grade is 10 to 15, while superior is 16+. (FYI: UMF is the brainchild of a marketing association of Manuka honey makers in New Zealand who sought a way to consistently grade honey).
FYI: Australia also produces manuka honey—and there is debate among manuka honey enthusiasts as to which is better. Three out of the four recommendations for this article are New Zealand-produced manuka honey. The fourth is from Australia.
If you want to try manuka honey for tea or other culinary uses, we’d suggest this budget-friendly brand: Manukora’s Multi-Floral Raw Manuka Honey. It is a low UMF, low MGO alternative that is tasty, yet much easier on the wallet than other manuka honeys! Here’s more:
What We Liked
• Smooth, rich flavor.
• Fragrant aroma.
• Creamy texture.
• Variety of flavor notes—a touch of ginger, for example. We liked it!
• No GMO’s.
• 10 UMF.
• 50 MGO.
• Affordable . . . that is, for manuka honey!
What Needs Work
• Multifloral. Manuka honey comes in two varieties: monofloral and multifloral. Monofloral Manuka honey is “wholly or mostly” from the Manuka tree. Multifloral is Manuka honey blended with other types of honey.
Here’s how the the maker Manukora describes this multifloral Manuka honey: “Certified to contain a significant amount of nectar from the Leptospermum scoparium (Mānuka) plant but also contains multiple other floral sources as they are naturally harvested by the bees.”
There’s nothing wrong with multifloral Manuka honey—but it isn’t as pure/potent as its monofloral cousin.
• Small size. Yes, this jar is only 8.8 ounces.
• Plastic jar.
• Not sweet as some would like.