Manuka Honey 101: All Your Questions Answered
The Manuka tree has been used for wellness remedies for many centuries, yet many people still don’t know what Manuka Honey is, or what makes it so different from other types of honey. We’re going back to basics, answering the most frequently asked questions to give you a solid understanding of Manuka Honey and what makes it so special.
Where does it come from?
Real Manuka? Only New Zealand. Manuka Honey is made by bees that pollinate the Manuka flower, which is native to New Zealand and blooms just 2-6 weeks per year. Manuka Honey can only be produced in areas abundant with native Manuka blossoms, which is why our hives are located in some of the most remote, untouched parts of New Zealand. From the rugged central North Island volcanic plateau, to the bush clad hills of Northland, our bee hives are spread across six different regions of the country - some only accessible by helicopter. Having our hives located in these extraordinary places makes it possible for us to produce the rare, pure Manuka Honey, independently certified with a range of UMF® ratings.
What is the difference between Manuka Honey and my local honey?
Aside from where it was harvested, the nectar of the Manuka flower gives Manuka Honey its unique non-peroxide activity properties. The UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) rating number on every jar of Comvita represents the unique signature compounds characteristic of real Manuka Honey, which ensures purity and quality. These compounds include the key markers of Leptosperin, DHA and Methylglyoxal (MGO). Comvita offers Manuka Honey in UMF® grades of 5+, 10+, 15+ and 20+ (each with increasing Methylglyoxal (MGO) content and level of scarcity due to crop yields).
When it comes to the UMF rating, what is the difference between 5+ and 20+?
Comvita’s UMF® strength ranges from 5+ to 20+, with 20+ indicating the highest level of beneficial compounds. The higher the number, the higher the concentration of these compounds, the more targeted the usage for common wellness remedies, which is why higher UMF levels also tend to have a darker color and distinctive taste (some might call it medicinal).
How does it taste?
Our honey undergoes a creaming process after extraction to even out the crystals and texture. Manuka Honey is sweet and delicious, with more color and intensity of the distinctive taste at higher UMF numbers. Like a good wine, Manuka Honey grows in flavor & darkens over time.
What makes Manuka Honey unique for my health?
Manuka Honey is widely used to support digestive and immune health. It can help soothe coughs and sore throats too. Enjoy a delicious spoonful daily, or add to your tea, toast, yogurt, or smoothie as a daily superfood.
What makes Manuka Honey good for my skin?
Certified UMF® Manuka Honey with a 10+ or higher rating is medical grade and therapeutic for the skin. It contains the beneficial compounds that provide Manuka’s unique topical antibacterial and health benefits, including support for wound healing, combatting staph infections (such as MRSA) and helping treat acne and scarring. To incorporate into your weekly beauty routine, use Comvita Manuka Honey as a DIY face mask to keep your skin glowing.
Is this “raw” honey?
While the FDA does not have a specific definition for what "raw" means as it relates to honey, we believe it describes a process that preserves the integrity of honey, including naturally occurring pollen, enzymes, propolis and amino acids. Our honey is processed for a very short period to assist in removing wax and other hive components. This also enables us to achieve a very fine degree of crystallization, resulting in a creamed honey with a smooth texture that retains its natural honey state.
We believe the intent of describing honey as "raw" is to ensure that the honey has not undergone any significant transformation from its original state in the hive, to when placed on the shelf. To ensure that there are no significant changes to the honey from hive to shelf, we routinely test for and avoid changes to diastase, a key enzyme in honey that is heat sensitive and therefore a good measure of heat-induced damage. Bee pollen, propolis, and amino acids naturally present in honey are also stable through the process our honey undergoes. So while we don’t use the word “raw” in describing ourselves, we do fit comfortably inside many people’s definition of it.
Why does Manuka Honey cost more than some of the other honeys on the market?
Manuka Honey comes from the Manuka Flower, a scarce and natural resource found only in New Zealand. It is unique because it contains special health properties used to support digestion, health, and healing. In addition to the unique qualities it contains, the Manuka Flower has a limited crop production (roughly only 2-6 weeks a year) and is incredibly sensitive to seasonal weather conditions. It takes immense skill, planning and resources to harvest Manuka Honey (we told you some hives are only accessible by helicopter), which makes it much more expensive to produce than other types of honey - but only real Manuka Honey has the vibrant, wellness qualities it does.
What makes Comvita the best Manuka Honey?
We’re so glad you asked! Comvita is REAL Manuka. We’ve been nurturing bees and harvesting honey the old fashioned way since 1974 - and our founders had already been beekeeping for over 50 years by then. Our practices are wild and sustainable to honor the purest natural state of Manuka Honey, and make sure this extremely rare nectar is available for generations to come. Comvita is UMF® graded, which is the rating system backed by the New Zealand government for its verification of quality and potency - and we trace every single drop from hive to shelf. The earth provides incredible healing resources to those who are willing to honor and hone them, and we respect nature’s wisdom above all.