Simply put, manuka honey is a prized gift of nature and the queen of all honeys. Originating mainly from New Zealand, although some also comes from Australia, manuka honey is honey that is produced by bees that harvest nectar from the manuka tree.
Manuka honey is a so-called mono-floral or single flower honey, which means that the amazing taste and special properties of the honey are derived from bees gathering nectar off mainly one plant species: the manuka tree.
The manuka tree and the legend of Captain Cook
The manuka tree is also known by other names such as the manuka myrtle, the New Zealand tea tree, broom teatree or just the tea tree, and it grows wild in New Zealand and South Australia. Captain Cook also discovered the manuka tree and wrote about it in his diaries and apparently used the leaves of the tree to make a tea that helped prevent scurvy, and this is how the manuka tree also came to be known as the tea tree. The tree is shrub-like, evergreen and has a large number of white flowers that appear from September to February (spring to summer in the southern hemisphere).
What is so special about manuka honey?
These days everybody seems to be talking about manuka honey: and for good reason! It is not just because of its great taste but because the honey is packed full of nutrients and special properties. Researchers have found that it has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and in its purest form these are so powerful that a medical grade manuka honey has been produced to help treat wounds.
Good for the skin too
Manuka honey is in demand not just because of its medicinal properties but is used in a myriad beauty and skincare products because of its positive effects on the skin. Many also swear by it and use it as an ingredient for homemade remedies for treating a variety of modern-day beauty issues such as bags under the eyes.
How much manuka honey is produced in New Zealand?
According to official statistics, a whopping 17,825 tonnes of honey was produced in New Zealand in the year 2012-2013. However, the amount of genuine manuka honey is much smaller and estimated to be around 1,700 tonnes, which accounts for the higher price compared with other more common types of honey. The story of beekeeping and honey production stretches back to the 1840s in New Zealand, but the research into the honey’s properties was carried out in the 1980s.