How Manuka Honey is Made

Manuka honey, as we have come to know, is a special type of honey made by bees that feast on the nectar of a special tree found in Australia and New Zealand. It is known as Leptospermum scoparium. This article contains a detailed description of how this special substance is made, where it is found and its origins.

Where it comes from

Tea tree grows in the north of New Zealand and Australia. It is a species of manuka myrtle that originated in Australia. However, after the first geological epoch aridity of the Neogene period and as a result of dispersal events, it later appeared in New Zealand.

How Leptospermum scoparium flower is created

Leptospermum scoparium tree species is cited for having originated because of frequent fire outburst of which Australia is known for. It appears as a part of a regenerative process after a forest mass has been burnt down. Due to New Zealand's serotiny and storage lignotubers that have fire adaptive traits, manuka plant was only able to settle in very few places there. Over the years and because of Polynesian people who set fires and cleared forests, soils became low nutrient and Leptospermum scoparium was predated in its homeland.

Where manuka trees are found

Today you will find the better part of them in New Zealand, mostly in the drier eastern coast on the north and on the south. In Australia, on the other hand, there grow genuine manuka trees in Tasmania, New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria with more potent nutrients.

The process of making manuka honey

Manuka honey can only be produced in areas with a surplus of manuka flowers. Bees that pollinate them and suck their nectar carry out the process. They take it to their colonies while adding enzymes to it. The next step usually involves fanning, which is performed by other bees to reduce water content it carries. To achieve this, beehives usually have to be in or close to places with plenty of manuka flowers.

Once honey is ripe, the excess is usually collected for making the product. Oftentimes, in search of nectar bees wander farther than they should and end up gathering it from other plants. It invariably affects concentration.

Farmers use a couple of methods to identify purer manuka honey. Some of them include:

  • Honey colour
  • Honey taste
  • Laboratory test for dietary methylglyoxal (MGO)

MGO is an organic compound that is found in high quantity only in pure manuka honey. The majority of its special properties derive from this component.

There is a couple of other methods to ensure that bees only take nectar from Leptospermum scoparium tree. The most common way is to set a beehive in the right position, from where they can easily go scavenging for pollen only from the intended plants.

After formation and collection of honey, manuka has a high proclivity to increase activity. As such, the majority of bee farmers store it in bulk for about a year or two before packing and shipping to consumers.

Difference between regular and manuka honey

There are two kinds of bees used commercially all over the world: the Italian and the Carniolan species. Either one of them can produce this type of honey. The difference between a regular and manuka product is in flowers that bees use to feed them. Leptospermum scoparium plant is what adds extra components the ordinary honey does not possess. NPA or Methylglyoxal (MGO) mark on every jar shows that it was gathered from this tree.

Difference between MGO ratings

If you are familiar with the honey, you will find symbols such as +5, +10, etc. common. These are the strength levels of the unique manuka factors. The difference between them is the bigger the number, the higher the compound concentration. This is why colour is not the same for every rating. It is darker for higher marks as it shows a longer fermentation period.

How manuka honey tastes

Just like its colour differs depending on the ratings, so does the taste. Naturally, the honey is sweet but has more intensity if the number is bigger. Like a fine wine, it passes through a blending process after extraction. The purpose is to even out crystals and increase quality.

Is this a “raw” honey?

The term “raw”, as it regards honey, simply depicts the process that retains integrity of the product. It includes added by bees enzymes, naturally occurring pollens, and various amino acids. There might be a few stages of processing  ̶  they remove hive components such as wax and more. It also allows for proper honey crystallization resulting in creamier consistency.

At Biosota, we describe honey as raw meaning that it hasn’t gone through any significant transformation from the original condition. We often test our product for diastase, which is a key enzyme in it and is usually susceptible to heat. This is how we ensure high quality.

So, what are you waiting for? Order “raw” and undiluted Manuka Honey at Biosota right now!