What is Manuka Honey?

What Is Manuka Honey? All Your Questions Answered

At a Glance

Steens manuka honey is raw and unpasteurized, made by bees who pollinate flowers from the manuka plant in New Zealand.

The benefits of Steens manuka honey include its high amino acid profile, higher nutrient content, and natural enzymes that aid digestion.

Manuka honey is used to treat wounds, improve oral hygiene, prevent acne, and more.

Table of Contents:

The History of Honey

What is manuka honey?

How is manuka honey made?

Where is manuka honey made?

Is manuka honey “raw honey”?

Manuka Honey Grading Systems

Manuka Honey Benefits

Manuka Honey Uses

How To Choose the Right Manuka Honey for You

Tips on Buying Manuka Honey

Why Steens Raw Manuka Honey


The History of Honey

Known as Mother Nature’s golden nectar, honey is enjoyed by millions of people across the globe. In fact, the world in total produces a whopping 1.2 million tons of honey each year. Whether it’s being used as an energy source, natural sweetener, or tool for wellness and healing, this high-viscosity superfood is a gift from some of the world’s most important plant pollinators: honey bees. 

Honey is by no means a new discovery, either. Some of the earliest recorded evidence of honey is from an ancient cave painting in Cuevas de la Araña (“Spider Caves”) of Valencia, Spain. This painting — which was created sometime between 8,000 B.C. to 6,000 B.C. — depicts a honey hunter taking honey from a wild colony of honey bees on a cliff face. 

Because our fascination with honey and beekeeping has transcended millennia, different variations of honey have been cultivated based on types of nectar-producing flowers and unique weather conditions in different regions. In fact, there are over 300 types of honey in the United States alone. 

In general, the color of honey ranges from practically translucent to dark brown, with lighter-colored honey having milder, more floral-forward flavors and darker-colored honey having rich, molasses-like flavors.

Light-colored honey is usually derived from flowers like:

  • Alfalfa
  • Basswood
  • Clover
  • Fireweed 
  • Sage
  • Sourwood
  • Tupelo

Dark-colored honey is usually derived from flowers like:

  • Buckwheat
  • Avocado 
  • Blueberry
  • Eucalyptus
  • Orange blossom

While high-quality, raw honey derived from these types of flowers are rich in antioxidants and healing properties like enzyme-created hydrogen peroxide, there is one type of rare flower — the Manuka flower — that creates potent honey unlike any other: manuka honey


What is Manuka Honey?

Manuka honey is a monofloral honey produced by bees who pollinate flowers from the Leptospermum scoparium tree, also known as the manuka plant.  Along with enzyme-created hydrogen peroxide, manuka honey has many benefits stemming from its special antibacterial properties. Additionally, this type of honey is known for being earthier, richer, and more viscous than other types of honey. 

How is manuka honey made?

 Manuka honey is made from honey bees that pollinate the manuka flower. The ornate Manuka flower is a fickle beauty, only appearing for a short time during the summer months, and only if conditions are suitable. It blossoms on the Leptospermum scoparium tree, which is indigenous to New Zealand. To make pollination even more difficult, manuka flowers only keep their blossoms open for roughly 12 days. 

There are many reasons why this flower attracts so much attention — from both honey bees and humans. 

The manuka flower is treasured because of its lasting benefits like its antibacterial, anti-fungal, and natural healing properties. Manuka is proven to help accelerate wound healing and is also approved under the strict standards of the Food & Drug Association for this purpose.


Where is manuka honey made?

New Zealand accounts for nearly all of the world’s production of real, pure manuka honey. As the manuka plant is native to New Zealand, its rugged countryside features an abundance of manuka flowers for honey bees to pollinate. Despite being roughly the size of the state of Colorado, the island of New Zealand alone produces 15,000 to 20,000 tons of honey annually.

Is manuka honey “raw honey”?

Minimally processed manuka honey is generally considered “raw”. Higher levels of processing remove the manuka honey’s beneficial properties making it now longer raw. Therefore, the level of processing that your manuka honey goes through, will determine if it is considered “raw” or not.


Commercially Processed Manuka vs Whole Comb Technology

 Commercially processed manuka honey is heated to high temperatures (150 degrees Fahrenheit) during the creaming process. This eliminates yeast spores that could cause the honey to ferment, as well as melts the honey crystals to make the product less viscous. Additionally, the honey undergoes a filtration process to remove fine particles for a smooth and uniform finish. Unfortunately, this commercial process destroys some of manuka honey’s enzymatic properties, beneficial nutrients, as well as its taste and aroma — thus making it no longer “raw.”

At Steens, we believe nature knows best and so we’re determined to bring to the world a honey entirely honest in nature, by keeping it raw without the need for secondary processing. Our proprietary Whole Comb Technology™ maintains temperatures that naturally occur in the beehive. We also control any undesirable fermentation in our manuka honey by ensuring its moisture content is kept within strict parameters. In addition, we do not fine filter our honey, as this removes the nutritious bee bread, pollens, enzymes, and minerals.


Manuka Honey Grading Systems

Because pure manuka honey is rare and extremely difficult to harvest, this type of honey must undergo a series of rigorous lab tests and be given a Unique Manuka Factor™ (UMF) rating to ensure its quality. This rating is given by the UMF Association, an independent body in New Zealand that regulates the UMF quality trademark through internationally recognized quality standards.

At Steens Honey, our UMF grading system uses the most comprehensive and transparent test currently available for manuka honey, as it accounts for a number of natural elements — including Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) and Methylglyoxal (MGO) — found in manuka honey to ensure its purity. 

Many of our competitors’ grading systems only test for one marker — typically MGO — as their reference point for grading their manuka honey. It’s important to note that MGO can be adulterated and found in other types of honey, which makes it a poor standalone rating system.

The visual below shows how these different grading systems compare from good to best.


Manuka Honey Benefits

As one of the most nutrient-packed kinds of honey in the world, manuka honey’s antimicrobial and antioxidant properties can contribute to many health and wellness benefits, including:

Wound Healing

Manuka honey has been used for clearing up infections and topical wounds, including abscesses, surgical wounds, traumatic wounds, burns, and ulcers. When manuka honey is applied to a wound, it prevents a prolonged inflammatory response by suppressing the production of inflammatory cells at the wound site and stimulating the production of new cells, allowing normal healing to occur. 

On top of its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, manuka honey’s viscosity is beneficial as it also provides a protective barrier on the wound, which aids in preventing microbial infection. 

Oral Hygiene

When it comes to oral conditions like plaque and gingivitis, manuka honey delivers powerful results. Using a chewable manuka honey “leather” with a UMF rating of 15, a team of clinical researchers found that subjects who chewed on this leather three times a day for 10 minutes each session had a significant reduction in plaque scores (0.99 reduced to 0.65) and bleeding sites caused by gingivitis (48% reduced to 17%).

Digestive Systems

The beneficial antibacterial activity of manuka honey has been documented for several bacterial pathogens, including Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) — a bacterium in the digestive tract that can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening colon inflammation. In a study that measured three different C. difficile strains against the antibacterial properties of manuka honey, researchers found that the honey was bactericidal (meaning it worked to kill the bacteria) against all three C. difficile strains.

Acne Treatment

While manuka honey inhibits the growth of microbes responsible for wound infections, it can also block the growth of Propionibacterium acnes — an abundant bacterium found on the human skin that can play a role in the development of acne. Along with its acne-inhibiting properties, another benefit of manuka honey is it can also prevent other skin conditions like ringworm, MRSA, staph infections, and more.

The Additional Benefits of Steens Manuka Honey

Along with the benefits of manuka honey previously listed, Steens raw and unpasteurized manuka honey also features a high amino acid (protein) profile and higher nutrient content than many other manuka honey variations on the market. One of the most abundant amino acids in our honey is proline, which is one of the twenty amino acids used in living organisms as the building blocks of proteins.


Manuka Honey Uses

From eating it to using it as a topical salve, there are many ways you can take advantage of the benefits of manuka honey’s rare antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, including:

  • Eating a Spoonful - One of the easiest ways to consume manuka honey is by the spoonful. This allows you to enjoy the rich, creamy, and earthy taste that manuka honey is known for while sending its beneficial compounds directly into your body. 
  • Cooking - Just like regular honey, manuka honey can be used in many different dishes to enhance flavor while giving you a boost of health. Get manuka honey recipe ideas from our founder, Sheryl.
  • Face Masks - If you’re interested in manuka honey for its dermatological benefits, creating your own DIY manuka honey face mask is an easy way to start absorbing its antioxidants and antimicrobial properties. 
  • Topical Treatments - For burns, cuts, or scrapes, manuka honey can be applied topically. Similar to antibiotic ointments, you can put manuka honey directly on your wound while placing a bandage over it.


How To Choose the Right Manuka Honey for You

When choosing manuka honey, it’s important to consider what you will be using it for. At Steens Honey, we produce manuka honey that ranges from 5+ to 28+ UMF grades — and the higher the grade, the higher the MGO, DHA, and Leptosperin levels. 

To maximize its antimicrobial and antioxidant benefits, it’s recommended to select manuka honey with a higher UMF grade.


Browse our Anytime Range for everyday wellness

Perfect for everyday wellness, this milder line of manuka honey products is best used as a natural sweetener for cooking or baking. Explore the Anytime Range.

Choose from our Daily Range for a healthy boost.

Our stronger Daily Range products boost immunity and can be used to treat common throat and gut ailments, with just a spoonful a day. Explore the Daily Range.

Turn to our Targeted Range for specific conditions.

For optimal health, our doctor-recommended Targeted Range treats topical concerns like skin wounds and internal issues like autoimmune diseases. Explore the Targeted Range.

Still unsure which strength of Manuka honey is right for you? Follow our Manuka honey grade guide to discover which range will fit your needs!

Tips on Buying Manuka Honey

When purchasing manuka honey, always look for a UMF label and grading level clearly displayed on the front label. Also, the honey must be packaged and labeled in New Zealand, as well as produced by a New Zealand company licensed to use the UMF quality trademark. 

Finally, the package must have the UMF licensee's brand name and license number on the front label, and it must come with an official UMF certificate with its batch information and laboratory test results.


Why Steens Raw Manuka Honey

At Steens, we create raw and unpasteurized manuka honey just how nature intended it to be. Rather than overheating our manuka honey and stripping it of its key nutrients, we utilize our Whole-Comb Technology™ to only process the honey once. This allows us to keep beneficial honey crystals, pollen, bee bread, enzymes, and minerals intact. 

As a UMF-certified manuka honey producer in New Zealand, our honey goes through rigorous laboratory tests to ensure you are receiving the best manuka honey available. Additionally, every pot of Steens manuka honey is printed with a unique Hive Tracker code, which allows you to track and trace your honey back to the exact New Zealand region our family harvested it from.

Experience Steens Manuka Honey Today

Ready to discover what the buzz is all about with manuka honey? Browse a wide range of pure, raw manuka honey products — such as our monofloral manuka honey or manuka oil — choose the right one for you, and experience the health and wellness benefits of our family’s New Zealand manuka honey today.


ReferencesContribution of Honey in Nutrition and Human Health: A Review. (July 2009). Mediterranean Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism.

Man of Bicorp Cave Painting. AtlasObscura.com

Identification and Quantification of Antioxidant Components of Honeys From Various Floral Sources. (October 2002). Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Grading System Explained. UMF.org.nz

Manuka honey producer charged in landmark case. (January 2019). Radio New Zealand.

Manuka Honey: An Emerging Natural Food With Medicinal Use. (July 2013). Natural Products and Bioprospecting.

Potential Pathway of Anti-inflammatory Effect by New Zealand Honeys. (March 2015). International Journal of General Medicine.

The Effects of Manuka Honey on Plaque and Gingivitis: A Pilot Study. (March 2004). Journal of the International Academy of Periodontology.

Antibacterial Effect of Manuka honey on Clostridium difficile. (May 2013). BMC Res Notes.

Honey: A Therapeutic Agent for Disorders of the Skin. (August 2016). Central Asian Journal of Global Health.

Honey: A Realistic Antimicrobial for Disorders of the Skin. (April 2016). Journal of Microbiology, Immunology and Infection. 

Analysis of Amino Acids in Mānuka Honey. (2015). ResearchCommons.waikato.ac.nz




Your articles were very informative. I am definitely ordering from you guys. I’ve been taking manuka honey at a low level for some time now and I got to say it’s everything it’s cracked up to be. When shes run down, its healing proprieties keep my daughter and I from running to the Dr all the time. I am excited to try your honey at a higher level.

Brenda Baker May 15, 2024

This was very informative. Thank you. I will be ordering honey from you.

Karen Pitts January 04, 2024

I like a very mild honey. What would be the best manila honey for me.

Susan McDaniel January 04, 2024

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