Best Manuka Honey 2020-Manuka is amazing, medicinally and for general food consumption – with new benefits being discovered and verified on an ongoing basis. It can score ‘off the charts’ compared to traditional honey in terms of antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiseptic properties. This amazing honey comes at a higher price point than traditional or “regular” honey. With that higher price point, the market can get inundated with the crooks who are looking to take advantage of Manuka Honey you with a fake product by either mimicking honey with corn syrup, sugar, or non-manuka blends. Companies can manipulate the origins of where your honey came from, for example by putting a drop of Moroccan honey into a vat of sugar syrup. (Morocco is just an example). You want to buy manuka that has a certified UMF symbol, or if you prefer, the K Factor which measures pollen count and is specific to the Wedderspoon brand. Don’t worry, we exhaustively tested all of this for you.
How To Choose The Best Manuka Honey
As Manuka honey has gained in popularity, more and more producers have looked to jump on the bandwagon. Just a quick search on Amazon comes up with hundreds of brands to choose from. It is more important now than ever before to know what to look for in Manuka honey and how to purchase the best quality product. Since the Manuka tree only grows wild in New Zealand and southeastern Australia, your first step should be to find a honey produced in one of these regions, preferably New Zealand as they have stricter regulations regarding its production and sale. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for raw, unfiltered, and organic honey as these will have the most health benefits and the least amount of unwanted chemicals.
Another term you’ll see thrown around a lot when looking at the different Manuka honeys for sale is UMF, which stands for Unique Manuka Factor. This is a registered trademark and only members of the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association of New Zealand who have their product tested in an independent laboratory can display it on their honey jars. This is important because if it hasn’t been independently tested, how do you really know the efficacy and authenticity of your product?
Next to the UMF logo, you’ll see a number. This number rating is directly linked to the antibacterial activity in the honey and corresponds with the concentration of methylglyoxal. The higher the number, the more potent the antibacterial properties of the honey. The ideal level is between 10 and 18 UMF as anything below a 10 is not generally considered strong enough to have any therapeutic use. If you see just a number without the UMF trademark, then that producer is not regulated and more than likely has no independent lab testing done on their honey.
Call me crazy but I strongly believe nature can save us from the hassle. As crazy as it sounds, mother nature kept its secrets, healing properties, and nutritional bonuses within plants and liquids.
One such liquid is “Manuka Honey.” A variant of honey that is indigenous to New Zealand. Derived from Manuka Bush pollens, these products will grant you cure from everyday cuts and bruises.
If you use it smartly, the best Manuka honey can even serve as nutritional supplement, skin care product, and a digestive supplement.
I used Manuka Honey of almost 17 different companies around the world and out of that, I have made 10 shortlisted Manuka Honey’s catalog for you. I love these very much and other customers were also pleased to use these honey.
The honey, with potent anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, offers amazing benefits for skin care, digestion, and many other health issues. Often touted as a home remedy for anything from acne, wounds, eczema, herpes to gastritis and cancer, the demand for this wonder product is soaring, despite its odd taste and high price.
In this review + buying guide, we will look at some of the best Manuka honey brands available online, check out their pros and cons, as well the top features to look for in a premium Manuka brand.
Best Manuka Honey Brands 2020 – 2021
Best Manuka honey
|Yes, 15+||8.8 oz (250 g) Review||Best Authentic Manuka Honey|
|Yes, 10+, 15+, 20+ variants||8.8 oz (250 g) Review||Best Premium Manuka Honey|
|Yes, 10+, 15+ variants||8.8 oz (250 g) Review||Best Manuka honey from East Cape|
|Yes, 15+ and 10+ variants||8.8 oz (250 g) Review||UMF Licensed Honey in two variants|
|Yes, 5+, 10+, 15+ variants||8.8 oz (250 g), 17.6 oz (500 g) Review||UMF Licensed Honey in three variants|
|Yes, 5+, 10+, 15+, 20+ variants||8.8 oz (250 g), 17.6 oz (500 g) Review||Excellent UMF 20+ Manuka honey|
|Yes, 5+, 10+, 15+, 20+, 24+ variants||3.5 oz (20x5g), 12 oz (340g), 17.6 oz (500g) Review||Unique Manuka Honey With Goodness of Bee Bread|
|Yes, 8+, 10+, 12+, 15+ variants||250 gram, 400 gram Review||Best Eco-Friendly Manuka honey|
|Yes, 15+, 20+ variants||17.6 oz (500g) Review||Best Manuka honey from East Cape region|
|No||17.6 oz (500 g) Review||Best KFactor Manuka Honey|
|No||8.75 oz (250 g) Review||Best HPA active Manuka Honey|
|No||8.8 oz (250 g) Review||Best Manuka Honey With Medium MGO Content|
|No||17.6 oz (500 g) Review||Manuka honey with variable bio-active ratings|
|No||12 oz (340 g) Review||Thickest and creamiest Manuka honey|
|No||17.85 oz (500 g) Review||Affordable Manuka honey alternative|
Top 5 Best Manuka Honey picks to Buy
Wedderspoon Raw Premium Manuka Honey
Manuka Health Manuka Honey, 100% Pure New Zealand Honey
Manuka Doctor Bio Active Manuka Honey
Bio Active 24+
Comvita Certified (Super Premium) Manuka Honey.
Kiva Certified – Raw Manuka Honey
In this article I’ll go over few of the reputed brands and their products. There’ll be a definite portion guiding you on how to buy this stuff. Also, a bunch of safety advices and tips. So, let’s hop on!
What Are the Benefits of Manuka Honey?
While honey has been used as medicine over the centuries, its special medicinal benefits weren’t proven until the 19th century. It’s been used orally and in poultices for healing, and these practices continue into the 20th century. Honey was studied by scientists and it was discovered that honey contains antibiotic qualities.
While honey can protect against damage from harmful bacteria on the skin, it can also encourage the production of healthier skin cells, particularly by those that have been damaged by infection. Honey also has an anti-inflammatory quality to help reduce inflammation, redness, and pain.
The Best Manuka Honey Reviews 2021
Best Overall-Comvita Manuka Honey UMF 15+
They are a member of the UMF Association, which is the only authentic, independent certification on the planet for Manuka honey. This certification means that Comvita honey is real, authentic and traceable to the exact location of the beehive in New Zealand. The 15+ rating means that it has very high therapeutic values.
Talking about UMF ratings, the actual graph may have numbers as high as 25. But generally, anything above 16+ is considered of the highest quality regarding healing and anti-microbial capabilities. So 15+ is a pretty good rating, not the best, but certainly close to the top. If you want to use the Manuka honey for healing and therapeutic purposes, this is the minimum figure that you should be looking for.
Does the Comvita Manuka honey have any real flaws? The plastic packaging is just about the only issue we can find. It may get busted during shipping. And the price is on the higher side, but that is only to be expected when buying a premium product. Sure, you might find better brands out there with UMF 16+ ratings, but that doesn’t take anything away from Comvita. Incidentally, some people may have issues with the taste of this particular honey.
- Has authentic Manuka honey, UMF certified
- UMF 15+ is premium therapeutic quality honey
- Has strong healing capabilities
- Comes in plastic bottles
- Slightly expensive
- The bottles are often not full
Best Manuka honey for skin
Best Kiva Certified UMF 15 Manuka Honey
Kiva looks like the real deal, with honey that is thick and creamy, just as pure Manuka honey is supposed to look. The honey comes with an official UMF 15+ rating, which means that you can rest assured that you will be getting your money’s worth when you pay for this Manuka honey. We have already explained the benefits of UMF 15+ in an earlier review, so there is no need to repeat that here. Though it comes in a plastic bottle, the plastic is BPA free, and the black packaging does look quite attractive.
There are very few cons of note regarding the Kiva raw Manuka honey. The pricing and packaging do attract a fair amount of criticism, to be honest. It is expensive, as all authentic Manuka honey brands tend to be. But the way they leave the bottle almost a quarter empty can make one feel disappointed. Using a smaller bottle would have been a better option! When you pay good money, you at least expect a product that looks full, not half empty.
- Creamy and tasty Manuka honey
- Has the authentic UMF rating
- UMF 15+ means good quality therapeutic honey
- Packaging looks very handsome
- Rather expensive
- Bottles look half empty, which is quite disappointing
When you buy Wild Cape honey, you know the exact region from which this honey is sourced. And that East Cape region in New Zealand gives this honey an advantage over other versions of Manuka honey. The East Cape honey is milder, sweeter and more palatable while having the same health benefits as other Manuka versions. And Wild Cape is a member of the UMF Association, so authenticity is guaranteed as well. The honey is also ethically harvested, without unduly harming the bees. When you buy Wild Cape, what you get is high-grade UMF 15+ honey, packed in food grade plastic jars free from BPA.
There are no major flaws associated with this brand. The only thing to watch out for is the flavor of the honey. Manuka is not particularly well known for being a crowd-pleaser regarding taste. Some people are put off by its medicinal flavor. While the East Cape honey is considered sweeter, some may not like it.
- Authentic East Cape Manuka honey from New Zealand
- Comes with full information regarding geographical source
- UMF licensed brand
- High-quality UMF 15+ rating
- Comes in plastic jars
- Some people have issues with the flavor and sweetness
Happy Valley is one of the few brands that have an actual UMF certification and license. So there are no doubts or concerns regarding the reliability and authenticity of this particular brand. What you get is 100% real Manuka honey from New Zealand. And you may already have noticed; the UMF 15+ rating means that this is one of the best quality Manuka honey you can buy. They also sell a lower grade UMF 10+ rated honey for those who need a less potent version of Manuka honey.
Though it comes in a plastic jar, it is BPA free and quite safe. The packaging looks quite pleasing, and they do keep it full, so you don’t end up feeling short changed! The honey itself has a rich flavor and is quite creamy. We found no major faults or flaws with the product.
Some individuals may have issues with the way Manuka honey tastes. As the taste can vary depending on the location and even the year, you may have to try a few brands until you get one that you like. So, you cannot fault the brand for this. There have been reported issues of people paying for the UMF 15 product and receiving UMF 10 instead. Other than that, there are no major problems with the Happy Valley honey.
- Has the authentic UMF license
- Available in UMF 15+ and UMF 10+ variants
- Good quality honey
- Excellent packing
- Minor issues related to shipping
- Some users have problems with the taste of this honey
Bee’s Inn is a group of authentic beekeepers in New Zealand. So you can rest assured that you are getting the real deal from these guys. Their brand has an entirely legal UMF rating. When you buy a bottle of this honey, you are getting a product that can be traced all the way back to its source in New Zealand. This honey has a UMF rating of 15+ which is on the higher side. Each batch is tested by an authorized and independent lab in New Zealand.
This particular honey comes from the North Island region, which one of the two main islands of New Zealand. The beekeepers are located near the city of Hamilton. The raw honey is 100% natural and hasn’t been heated or filtered. This can be used as a healthy spread, or as an alternative sweetener. It also has potent antibiotic properties.
Bee’s Inn sells three different grades of Manuka honey. You can choose between UMF 5+, 10+, and 15+ versions. All are available in 8 and 16-ounce jars. The packaging looks classy and has very detailed information on the labels.
We could not find any faults in this product. Sure it is expensive, but Manuka honey is a really rare product. And the taste does take some time to get used to, but that is not unique to this product.
- Pure Manuka honey from New Zealand
- The Bee’s Inn brand are authentic beekeepers
- The highest grade honey has a UMF 15+ rating
- Authentic taste, texture, and flavor
- It is on the expensive side.
- Not available in the highest UMF 25+ rating
Manukora source their honey from a network of trusted bee farms in New Zealand. And that is not an empty claim, since they have the all-important UMF rating and license. Their honey is tested by independent labs in New Zealand, and have a proven UMF rating of 20+, which means that it is extremely rich in methylglyoxal. The MGO content in this honey has been rated at 825+, which indicates that it has a high potency.
The honey is taken straight from the hive and into the jar, with as little processing as possible. Manukora uses a unique creaming process to ensure a thick consistency for their honey. It also has a rather stronger flavor that some other manuka honey we tested. We believe that this is due to the particular region from which they source the honey.
Though that creaming process does sound promising, it does have an impact on the texture of this honey. You may not like the grainy texture that it often has. We have also encountered some level of crystallization, which may be a side effect of this process.
But as we have already mentioned, the honey is pure and has a high healing potency. The packing is also pretty good, with attractive black labeling. But the use of a plastic jar is a bit of a letdown for such a premium product. You can buy manuka honey in two quantities from Manukora. There are the smaller 8.8 oz jar and the more significant 16 oz jar.
- Has the UMF certification
- Very high MGO rating
- Pure honey without any processing
- Strong taste and flavor
- It is quite expensive
- Sometimes has a tendency to crystallize
- The texture may not feel good for some people
- Comes in a plastic jar
The market for manuka honey is kinda diverse, since the quality and the taste of the honey is highly variable. Steens has a lower grade when it comes to its UMF rating, but they also have a USP. This particular honey has the goodness of bee bread, which is a highly nutritious product found in a hive. The honey is raw, unpasteurized, and cold pressed to preserve all the nutrients.
You can trace it back to its source hive, which is a feature that we have come to see as mandatory on authentic Manuka honey products. The brand was created by a beekeeper couple, who have been in the business for more than three decades. They are licensed members of the UMF association.
Cold pressed honey has a higher content of beneficial nutrients and enzymes and a much thicker texture. Their unique extraction process ensures that Steen’s honey has a higher content of bee bread, which is a mix of pollen, enzymes, probiotics, and honey. This extremely nutritious material is what goes into the making of royal jelly.
Steen’s is available in UMF 5, 10, 15, 20, 24 rating, and you do have three options when it comes to quantity. There is a small 3.5 oz jar, a 12 oz jar, and the biggest 17.6 oz jar. The packing and labeling are pretty standard, with a combination of black and amber colors.
- Cold pressed for improved quality.
- Brand owners are themselves the beekeepers
- Has a high content of nutritious bee bread
- Sweet taste
- The jar is made from plastic.
Most brands these days pay lip service to be ecologically and environmentally responsible. But Tahi is one of those rare brands that bother to go the extra mile to make a difference. And that is what sets them apart from other licensed UMF honey brands. Yes, they have a license and produce authentic manuka honey in their New Zealand farms. But they do not follow any kind of commercial beekeeping practices and focus on creating organic environments for their bees.
They undertake a lot of steps in habitat restoration, and plant native species of trees, including the Manuka on their estates. Their estates are now home to 63 different species of endangered birds, and some of them adorn the label of this honey.
As for the actual honey itself, it is 100% pure and unadulterated. It is not pasteurized and has only undergone minimal filtration to ensure that each jar contains an extraordinarily pure and potent product. As for the actual potency, Tahi manuka honey has a UMF 15+ rating, which above average. This is what you should be aiming for if you want honey with superior healing powers.
As for the negative aspects, we could only note one or two. The consistency is a bit of a letdown, as it felt too watery. We have come to expect manuka honey that is very thick, and this one feels too runny for us. It is also somewhat sweeter and has a different color and texture. It might be due to the local conditions in their estate.
Standardization of taste and flavor is not possible for manuka honey. Each region in New Zealand produces a honey with a different flavor, texture, and color. Keeping that in mind, we cannot really fault Tahi for their honey. It may not seem pleasant for some people, while it may feel perfect for others.
- Eco-friendly manufacturing practices
- Sourced from their estate in New Zealand
- High UMF rating of 15+
- Pure and unadulterated manuka honey
- Unusual taste and texture
- Too sweet, and has a runny consistency
This honey is sourced from the scenic region of East Cape, which falls on the fabled Te Araroa trail in New Zealand. The brand is pretty legit and has a UMF official license. So you can be confident that what you get is pure manuka honey direct from New Zealand. What sets this particular brand apart is the emphasis they give to the storage of honey. Manuka honey can lose its potency if it is stored improperly and frequently transported.
This brand makes it a point to ensure that the honey is securely stored in their specially designed “honey rooms” and transported directly to the customer. The honey has a high potency of above 20+ on the UMF scale. That is one of the highest ratings you can get. This is a single origin honey, sourced from the East Cape region.
Does it have any unusual faults? The packaging could have been better, since they use plastic bottles that don’t feel premium. But other than that, we could find no major issues. The taste is a bit off but is not unusual for manuka honey. If the taste is high on your priority list, you might want to look elsewhere.
The labels are bright and have pastel colors. This honey is only available in a single sized bottle. It is available in 8 oz bottles. We wish they also sold in more massive quantities.
- Pure Manuka honey from East Cape, New Zealand
- Uses unique storage for improved quality
- High UMF rating of 20+
- Single origin honey, unblended
- Lackluster labels, and plastic jars
- Taste is not the best out there
- Only available in one size jars
This is undoubtedly one of the most popular brands of Manuka honey available in the market. It is one of the most affordable brands of Manuka honey out there, which probably contributes a lot to its popularity. According to the manufacturer, the honey is sourced directly from New Zealand, which is the only source of real Manuka honey in the world. It also has a unique KFactor 16 certification, recognized by the New Zealand Government.
Before we get to the cons of this honey, it is essential to explain the significance of the KFactor 16 certification. Unlike the universal UMF certification used by all Manuka manufacturers, KFactor is a certification used by Wedderspoon. It only looks at the pollen content in the honey, with the logic that higher pollen content means healthier Manuka honey. But pollen in honey can come from other flowers as well, not just the Manuka plant. So this is not a very reliable certification for authentic Manuka honey.
Unfortunately, just because something is popular doesn’t mean that it is the best product available. And the same is true in the case of Wedderspoon. Its most significant flaw is the absence of the standard UMF certification. To be considered authentic Manuka honey, you need to have the UMF certification. And the price is also quite low, which is too good to be true. You can say that there is no such thing as cheap Manuka honey. The packaging is also quite cheap, with plastic bottles implying a less-than-premium product. There are also some wide variations in the taste and appearance of the honey in different batches.
- Quite a low price
- Certified non-GMO product
- Pure raw honey, not pasteurized
- Sourced from genuine New Zealand honey manufacturers
- Does not have UMF certification, may not be authentic Manuka honey
- Cheap plastic bottles
- Taste and quality varies wildly from batch to batch
Manuka Doctor throws out a lot of ratings and figures about their honey sourced from New Zealand. One of its pros seems to be the 24+ Bio Active rating, which shows the active peroxide content in the honey. Honey with higher peroxide activity is considered healthier. This appears to be an authentic all natural product from New Zealand. Manuka Doctor also has a lot of different grades and flavored variants of this honey for the discerning customer.
Again, we feel the need to clear the air about these certifications thrown about by brands for marketing purposes. The Bio Active rating here is quite similar to the KFactor 16 rating used by Wedderspoon, in that both do not look at the things that matter in Manuka honey. All honey has peroxide and pollen. A particular honey cannot be branded Manuka just because it has high pollen or peroxide activity. UMF certification, along with MGO rating is what truly separates Manuka honey from the rest.
That brings us to the main issues with the Manuka Doctor brand. This honey does not have a UMF Association certification. Only brands which are part of the Unique Manuka Factor association can claim to have truly authentic Manuka honey. This, unfortunately, does not apply to the Manuka Doctor brand. And the 24+ label doesn’t mean much since the best quality Manuka honey has the highest rating of UMF 16+. Also, it is quite cheap and comes in a plastic bottle, which does not exactly scream “premium quality.”
- Cheap and very affordable
- Available in multiple ratings of Bio Activity
- Available in flavored blends as well
- Authentic New Zealand honey
- Pure and 100% natural, non-GMO
- No UMF certification, so not authentic Manuka honey
- Active 24+ is not equal to or better than UMF 16+
- Available only in plastic bottles
- No details about important facts like exact place origin, or MGO figures
Best Manuka Health –Manuka Honey
As a Manuka Honey brand without UMF membership, Manuka Health does manage to get a few things right. The certification and rating they have used are what separates them from some of the other non-UMF brands out there. Manuka Health uses MGO rating, and their honey is rated MGO 400+, which makes it comparable to a UMF 12 or 13 honey regarding health benefits.
As you can see in our buyer’s guide at the end of this review, MGO stands for Methylglyoxal, the active ingredient that makes Manuka honey so special. An MGO rating of 400 means that the honey has medicinal properties similar to a UMF rated 10+ honey. To clarify further, it may have some therapeutic or healing effects, but it is not comparable to a top of the shelf, UMF 16+ rated brand.
When we come to the cons, it is the same thing all over again. An MGO rating is not comparable to the Unique Manuka Factor, or UMF, which is an independent industry association certification. Manuka Health may have medicinal properties comparable to a medium quality Manuka honey brand, but it still cannot be classified as authentic Manuka honey.
- All natural honey sourced from New Zealand
- Affordable pricing
- High MGO content, provides moderate therapeutic benefits
- Better rating system than other non-UMF brands
- Not the authentic Manuka honey, due to lack of UMF certification
- MGO 400+ is only equal to a UMF 10+ rating, which is average
- Sold in non-premium plastic packaging
Click here to see the reviews, ratings, and pricing at Amazon.com.
|Top 10 List||Best Under 50||Best Buying Guide||Best Seller List|
Best Pacific Resources Mossops Manuka
When you buy this Manuka from Pacific Resources, you do get a lot of quantity, that too at a good price. This honey is available in different bio-active ratings, ranging from 5 to 20. The honey is sourced from Mossops, which is a recognized New Zealand company that produces authentic Manuka honey. This seems to be a good quality honey blend, rather than a single batch of honey.
We feel it appropriate to give some clarification here. Yes, Mossops is a brand recognized by the New Zealand government, but that does not mean that every batch of honey they sell under that name is authentic Manuka honey. This particular variant is sourced by the US firm Pacific Resources and does not have the actual UMF certification.
And that, in a nutshell, is our main issue with this product. You can have as many ratings and certifications as you please, but the gold standard when it comes to Manuka honey is the UMF. And this blend does not have that certification. Bio-active ratings are largely meaningless when you are looking for a unique product that grows in a small region in one country in the world.
- Available in various specification, some with UMF certification
- Available in larger quantity
- Authentic natural honey from New Zealand certified Kosher
- Affordable pricing
- This particular variant does not have UMF certification
- Sold in plastic bottles
- Flavor and quality is average
Click here to see the reviews, ratings, and pricing at Amazon.com.
YS Eco Bee Farms Raw Manuka Honey
This honey is incredibly thick and creamy and feels more like a paste. The YS Eco Bee Farms is a rather unusual little brand on our list. They are quite legit, despite not having a UMF certification. They source their honey from an official UMF licensee, a cooperative in New Zealand to be exact. They are pretty transparent about their sources and supply chain. If you want therapeutic Manuka honey, they are probably a good choice. The honey is good quality, and it is packaged in a heavy glass jar.
Granted, they don’t have the actual UMF + certification, but YS Eco is an exceptional case. They offer a legit source of pure Manuka honey, but if you want to be 100%, it may better to choose a brand with the actual UMF certificate. In a market dominated by fake and adulterated products, caution is the best policy.
- Authentic Manuka honey sourced from licensed manufacturer
- Natural non-GMO product from New Zealand
- One of the few brands sold in high-quality glass jars
- High bio active rating
- Lacks an actual UMF license for the brand
- Honey is a bit too thick like it has residues of beeswax in it
Click here to see the reviews, ratings, and pricing at Amazon.com.
Best Airborne Manuka Honey
Airborne is a New Zealand brand that claims to have a potent blend of Manuka honey with several beneficial properties. It is available in a larger 17oz jar, which is more convenient for long term use than the smaller jars usually preferred by Manuka brands. Airborne offers its customers to trace the honey back to its source in New Zealand, which is a nice touch. The honey has a very high 70+ pollen rating.
But all that is a bit moot, since Airborne does not have a UMF license. So you cannot say with 100% certainty that this is real Manuka honey. Without a UMF 15+ rating, you cannot consider this honey to be of medicinal value.
- Natural and organic honey blend
- Sourced from apiaries in New Zealand
- High pollen content
- Mild taste
- Does not have UMF license, so not 100% authentic
Best Manuka Honey Brand 2020 Buying Guide
Before thinking about buying Manuka honey, it is vital to understand this product and its unique purpose. Here are the major things to know about Manuka Honey:
1. Unique, Rare, and Expensive Product
Manuka Honey is produced only in New Zealand. This honey is gathered by bees from a single medicinal plant, called Manuka, found only in the wild in New Zealand, and Australia. As a result, Manuka can only be manufactured in New Zealand (or Australia). It is highly sought after by the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry. Since demand is very high and supply is limited, Manuka honey is very expensive.
2. Medicinal Honey
You don’t buy this expensive honey to add to your daily cereal or to spread on toast. Of course, you can do that as well, but the main reason for buying Manuka honey is because of its numerous medicinal benefits. It has potent healing and antimicrobial properties. It can be added to your diet for overall improvement in health and well being.
3. Unique Taste and Texture
Not everybody will be a fan of the way this honey feels and tastes. It has a creamy texture and has an unusual flavor. The taste and sweetness vary from each batch of the honey, depending on the location and seasons of harvest.
4. Highly counterfeited product
It is estimated that nearly 80% of all honey sold globally as Manuka honey is fake or adulterated! The global sales were estimated at 10000 tons in 2014, while the actual production figures for that year in New Zealand was just 1700 tons!
So beware when you shop for best Manuka honey brand. Look for the following features to get 100% authentic product:
1. Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) License & Certification
By far, this is the most important thing to look for when buying Manuka honey. This is the only reliable seal of authenticity that proves that a particular brand is selling real Manuka honey. The UMF is an independent industry association, the only one in the world, for manufacturers involved in producing Manuka honey in New Zealand.
2. UMF Rating
UMF Licensed brands will have a rating for their honey, usually between UMF 5+ to UMF 16+. This indicates the medicinal or therapeutic capacity of that particular batch of honey. The higher the number, the more potent the honey. You can learn more about the UMF rating system at their website.
3. MGO Rating
This figure is directly related to the UMF rating of Manuka honey. MGO stands for methylglyoxal, a unique compound that gives Manuka its medicinal and healing powers. A higher UMF rating indicates that the amount of MGO in the honey is also high. You can find a helpful chart showing the correlation between the two here.
4. Third-party Ratings
Some brands which do not have UMF license use their rating systems to impress the consumer. “Bio-active” and “Pollen content” are two of the most common features used by such brands. Bio-active usually refers to the activity of naturally occurring Hydrogen Peroxide (HPA) in honey. But all types of honey have HPA. So you cannot take high HPA as a sign of authenticity of Manuka honey.
Best Manuka Honey MGO and UMF Ratings Compared
Best manuka honey brand
What Matters Most
Our love affair with manuka honey was solidified years ago on a trip to New Zealand. While we had heard of it prior to the trip but had not yet taken the plunge to purchase a jar of our own. However, when in Rome (or in this case, the Marlborough Sounds)…we jumped right in to see what the buzz was all about. We unanimously loved it. It was like golden colored deliciousness in a jar. We ate it on toast, by the spoonful, on fruit…you name it. And then, when one of our party had a cut on their leg we slapped some manuka on it, and no kidding, it was nearly gone the next day. We were all converts and believers in the wonders of manuka honey.
A couple of things happened after that trip to New Zealand. We had all purchased jars of it to bring home – different brands than what we had been eating while in New Zealand, and when we got home and opened it, we realized we had not purchased the same quality that had been eaten with unabashed delight. So, off we all went to different grocers here in the United States and looked online to find the same glorious honey that we had fallen in epicurean love with. Overwhelmed at both the price per jar and the options available to us. What were all those numbers? Why was this one better than that one? No one was not about to spend even one dollar on a jar and take the chance that we’d be duped again. Maybe you have heard manuka mentioned in conversation with foodies, perhaps looked it up a bit yourself, and maybe even been lucky enough to have a taste of the good stuff. If you’ve ever gone to purchase a jar of it, you may be first shocked at the cost, and then surprised at the labeling, and finally, overwhelmed at how many options there with so many varying price points with varying labels. If you’re going to spend “that” much, you want to get the right stuff. Let’s pause here and say that if you are shaking your head at this narrative of a purchase as simple as honey, we get it, but once we began to research what was going on, and which direction to go, it was like we had opened Pandora’s box. We had no idea. And clearly we are going to be the type of people who look into everything that we eat or make as a major purchase, so this experience was akin to Alice falling down the rabbit hole. Listen, we know it’s not a new car, it’s a jar of honey, but why would you want to spend any money if it’s not legit? and more importantly, why not give your body the incredible benefits of this wonder of nature?
As we were writing and researching this, we felt like Nancy Drew or Sherlock Holmes, discovering so much information and data, and at the same time, uncovering fraudulent behavior in what? the HONEY MARKET??? It sounds like a kid’s crime story, but the problem is bigger than you might first think it is. When it comes to buying an item that is fake, take for instance a handbag, you are duped, but the cost is a bit of pride, you feel foolish, you suffer from extreme anger…..but with the food industry, you are being manipulated sometimes at the cost of your health. It’s important that we educate ourselves and are informed consumers. We know that reading all of this data isn’t always fun and interesting, but this is one of the more complex things we’ve looked into.
Relax my busy bees, we’ve done the work for you. We too was overwhelmed by what we found, and as mentioned earlier, while we wanted the benefits, we didn’t want to figure it out by making monetary mistakes. Honey has become big business, and if purchased properly, it’s a great asset to have in your healthcare arsenal and pantry, but to the uninformed buyer, solidified sugar water or corn syrup might be all that you’re adding to your diet.
What is Manuka Honey Exactly?
I’ll not blame you if you didn’t hear about “Manuka Honey” before today. Eight Months back, I too was a stranger to this term. For me, honey came from the bees and not from anywhere else.
Well, until I googled the term that is. About Eight months back I found out that Manuka Honey comes from New Zealand. The name comes from a bush indigenous to that part of the world only.
Yup! The bees pollinate Manuka Bushes and produce this variant of honey. People use this thing to treat their wounds due to the medical perks of Hydrogen Peroxide.
Now, there are plenty of Manuka Honey Brands claiming to be the best. Every brand has its own gimmick.
So, how to differentiate between them?
Well, in order for these products to be potent enough you need to measure UMF or Unique Manuka Factor. The higher the count, the better. Usually a rating count of 5 is considered potent. If a brand has 10, it is considered pretty good.
Some of the brands give you an MGO rating measuring the Methylglyoxal the product has. The minimum count for methylglyoxal is 83 in a potent product and 829 for 20+ rating of UMF
Why is Manuka Honey Special?
Genuine honey (in general, not just manuka) has been prized since as far back as 40,000 years ago – (yes, 40,000 that’s not a typo), for both its natural sweetness and medicinal properties. Nutritionally dense and comprised of a blend of sugar, trace enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids, honey offers antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antioxidant properties. All of these benefits are true and present in honey ONLY if it’s genuine – and I can’t stress this enough, because as the world discovers (or re-discovers) the amazing and natural benefits are, soon follow the scammers and people looking to take advantage of you with basically sugar water, corn syrup, or adulterated versions of the honey they are claiming to sell to you. Like too many things, once the word is out there about how wonderful something is, the demand can exceed quantity and so quality can get compromised.
All genuine honey has antiseptic properties which are created in an enzymatic process and released as hydrogen peroxide, but manuka honey contains even stronger natural properties that make it superior to killing bacteria. These unique and incredible healing properties of manuka are so treasured, they have become a target for fraudulent product manufacturers, especially because of their higher price point. And at the cost per pot of this liquid gold, you’ll want to “bee” spending your money, honey, wisely.
So, let’s break this down, and go over all of the players and the moving parts, that together, make up the magic of Manuka:
How Manuka Honey is Made
Bees – Western honey bee, or European honey bee; these are the ones who transport the pollen from tree flower to tree flower and then back to the hive. About 60,000 bees travel 55,000 miles to visit 2 million flowers so that we can have a pound of honey. One pound.
Pollen – We loved this description from Larry Olmsted’s book ‘Real Food/Fake Food’ “pollen is a fingerprint for honey that can be tested to show where the plants the bees visited lived and prove country of origin”. The pollen in honey is like it’s fingerprint in that it is unique and shows where the flowers were located geographically, what type or the genus of the plant, and if it was from one type of floral group or another. The study of the pollen contained in honey is Melissopalynology. This is a crucial part of the process because the price of honey varies according to its contents, so in order to take down the imposters, you need a way to prove that what they are selling isn’t legit.
Tea Tree – There are three types of these trees found in New Zealand and Australia, and manuka honey is specifically from the pollen of one kind of tea tree, the Leptospermum scoparium species found ONLY in New Zealand, commonly known as the New Zealand manuka. This is also important because ‘tea tree oil’ is not the same as ‘manuka tree oil’. An interesting fact is that the manuka trees were considered “scrub” and a nuisance at one point. Until farmers realized that their land can be quite lucrative if they take advantage of it to grow this tree. There’s an initiative now to change that. Also, the manuka blooms at the same time as the kanuka tree. I’m telling you that because the kanuka pollen can end up in the Manuka honey and sometimes people will pass off the kanuka as manuka. Sounds like a Dr. Seuss book.
New Zealand – the location of the manuka trees. I was fortunate to explore the South Island and just a small bit of it at that. I’m mentioning it here because if given the opportunity to go there, take it. You’ll hear how the views are amazing, this or that film was made here, but no single description or fact can accurately describe this country and the amazingness that comprises not only the landscape but the people as well. I went with my son and hope to go back again, and often. The people that I met will stay in my heart forever. The joy of having green mussels in Havlock to whale watching in Kaikoura must be experienced firsthand. Go to New Zealand.
HPA – short for hydrogen peroxide activity, which is the measurement of antibacterial activity in ALL honey; this is often reduced or destroyed by the time most honey reaches the consumer
NHPA – non-peroxide antibacterial activity, or the manuka only activity which is the level of antibacterial activity that remains once the above mentioned HPA is reduced or destroyed (often by heat or light); because this is considered a ‘stable element’ of the honey, it is not reduced by external factors and a great indicator of the quality or potency of the manuka honey; this is unique to manuka honey. A manuka’s potency is gauged by this concentration within a batch of honey.
Active Levels (Active, TA, Bio-Active) – this can be confusing as it may take a bunch of factors and mix them up to indicate the total amount of antibacterial activity in the honey. I don’t feel confident telling you that this is a genuine and accurate measurement. I do believe that there are legit factors taken into consideration, I’m just not sure that they accurately reflect the effectiveness of the manuka.
Raw v. Pasteurized – Heating honey (pasteurizing) can break down some of the nutrients found naturally in honey, therefore, I recommend going with a raw or unpasteurized. I did review one honey that is specifically formulated for use in teas and hot water – this maintains is potency.
How Manuka Honey is Graded
The individual parts that when combined, determine the level of magic that makes up the manuka-ness of a batch of honey.
- Leptosperin – Now this is important if you want to really understand what makes up the UMF, because leptosperin is the dominant component of that UMF number. It is found ONLY in the nectar of the manuka plant flower; therefore, if found in the honey, we can validate that the honey is considered manuka; and because it is difficult to synthesize or “fake”, this compound and it doesn’t degrade over time, making it a solid identifier of manuka. Leptosperin level/number must be 100 to be considered manuka, and 390 to be considered grade 16+ which is superior.
- HMF – short for hydroxymethylfurfural which is the number or level identified from the breakdown of sugar. It is used as an indicator of heat treatment and aging in the honey.
- MG or MGO – This is short for methylglyocal, which is an active antimicrobial and antibacterial component
- DHA – dihydroxyacetone which is present in the nectar of manuka in varying degrees; it converts to MG over time by the DHA interacting with other components of the manuka honey
A lot of honey producers will label their products with a number that confuses the consumer in my opinion. We assume that the higher the number, the better the product. Not always true. They may be giving you a high number of ONE component of the total number that you are looking for. For example, an MGO rating may say 360 but the total UMF is only 8.
MG or MGO Rating – measured in mg/kg (ppm), this is the level of methylglyocal in parts per million.
UMF Rating – Unique Manuka Factor; a quality trademark and grading system used to identify authentic and unadulterated (fake) manuka honey; created to protect consumers; can only be used by licensed New Zealand companies. It is a combination of the key factors which are leptosperin, DHA, HMF, and methylglyoxal levels.
The UMF quality trademark has the following ranges to identify the level of UMF in each jar:
The only issue with this rating system, my opinion from speaking with people in the industry and reading what I could online, is that this system it can be compared to the term “organic”; there may be honey that is fantastic quality but hasn’t gone through the process of being certified. If you do go by this rating, you’ll want to stick with a UMF rating of at least 10+. However, I do believe a standard system is important to have, and hopefully, this movement remains true to the perseverance of maintaining high standards and quality.
KFactor – This grading system is unique to the Wedderspoon honey, and it’s been approved by the New Zealand government. They measure their honey based on the percentage of pollen through a holistic and multi-stage authentication system that includes purity, live enzymes, over 250 chemical residues, pollen count, pH level consistency, antioxidant levels, and phenolic compounds.
UMFHA – the main trade association for New Zealand manuka honey producers. To be labeled New Zealand manuka honey, at least 70% of the pollen content needs to come from the above mentioned New Zealand manuka tree. Yes, they can test for this.
The most important thing in choosing a manuka honey is quality. And although Wedderspoon is the exception to this rule, you’ll want to choose a honey that is UMFHA certified/a licensee. This is the ONLY way to guarantee a product that is legitimate. Additionally, in order to get the benefits of the manuka, you should purchase a honey with a minimum of UMF10+. Remember, all manuka must come from New Zealand and don’t be fooled by words like Bio-Active or Active. Legitimate honey MUST have the UMF certification on it (again, Wedderspoon is the exception to this rule with their KFactor process and certification).
The Manuka honey market is very lucrative. The benefits of the honey are real, and the demand is soaring with each passing year. Theft of beehives is becoming common in New Zealand as a result! Fake and adulterated products have flooded the market. UMF certification is the only way to ensure that you get an authentic product when you pay good money for Manuka honey.