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If you are interested in adding raw manuka honey to your life, you will probably agree with this statement:
With all of the interest surrounding this exciting superfood, finding the best raw manuka honey and getting a good value for your money can be tough.
As manuka honey goes mainstream, especially in the US, it is important to understand what manuka honey can be used for, what features are important in a quality manuka honey, and how quality can be compared across brands.
Best Raw Manuka Honey – 2019 Reviews
Some brands of manuka honey are UMF certified while others are not. Some offer a high MGO concentration while others feature a large hive count. People may find super premium types of raw manuka honey to be very expensive. Are they worth it? This article will summarize what, in our view, are the best raw manuka honey brands on the market in case you are looking to get some right now.
1. Kiva Certified UMF 20+ Raw Manuka Honey – Editor’s Choice
Kiva Certified UMF 20+ Raw Manuka Honey is, as the name suggests, a UMF 20+ honey from the woodlands and water areas of New Zealand. Kiva Certified UMF 20+ Raw Manuka Honey is harvested with the help of local farmers who use sustainable farming processes.
Kiva Certified UMF 20+ Raw Manuka Honey is non-GMO and is packaged in a BPA-free plastic jar. Kiva Certified UMF 20+ Raw Manuka Honey ranges in color from light amber to dark brown and has a thick consistency. The honey itself has a pleasing, enjoyable taste and is not too sweet. This honey can be mixed with drinks like tea or a smoothie for a boost.
Users of Kiva Certified UMF 20+ Raw Manuka Honey have had a lot of success using it for its antimicrobial properties. Specifically, this manuka honey might help as an alternative to an antibiotic for minor infections when taken orally. Some people also apply it to wounds and abrasions as a salve which may enhance the rate of healing. At UMF 20+, Kiva Certified UMF 20+ Raw Manuka Honey is also methylgloxal (MGO) 825+ for people interested in trying it out for antimicrobial reasons.
While honey often does not go bad after long periods of time, Kiva Certified UMF 20+ Raw Manuka Honey should be used on the best before date as recommended on the package for best results. This honey should be kept out of direct sunlight or environments which will heat up the honey.
Kiva Certified UMF 20+ Raw Manuka Honey is relatively expensive, especially as far as honey goes. You are getting the highest UMF at 20+ which, for many people, justifies the price given the wide variety of potential benefits.
- High UMF rating leads to a top quality manuka honey product.
- Higher quality maruka honey leads to a more expensive product.
2. Steens Manuka Honey UMF 24 – Super Premium
Steens Manuka Honey UMF 24 is a super premium manuka honey that, while not cheap, will be worth the cost for some. The company and family behind Steens Manuka Honey UMF 24 has been making honey for over three decades, turning their craft as beekeepers into a high-quality product and bringing it to market.
Steens Manuka Honey UMF 24 is sourced from hives devoted to making manuka nectar in native areas free of GMO or non-native plants.
Steens Manuka Honey UMF 24 is minimally processed and made using an original cold-pressed method. Many types of manuka honey are heated above 120 degrees Fahrenheit during production to make the honey easier to pour into containers. Unfortunately, heating the honey above the temperatures found in a hive can destroy some of the valuable nutrients and enzymes in the honey itself. In contrast, Steens Manuka Honey UMF 24 is not processed or heated at all, giving it a raw, unpasteurized finish that, in some ways, has the look and feel of a honeycomb once it settles during production. The finished Steens Manuka Honey UMF 24 product will have a thick texture and crystals of various sizes throughout.
Steens Manuka Honey UMF 24 also contains a unique natural product called bee bread that bees use to make royal jelly. Bee bread is bee pollen that is processed by bees in the hive, resulting in a fermented product with extra enzymes that is easier for humans to break down. Full of minerals, proteins and vitamins in addition to other nutrients, bee bread is a highly nutritious product that Steens Manuka Honey UMF 24, because of its unique production process, contains in higher quantities.
Why is Steens Manuka Honey UMF 24 so expensive? Because of its quality Steens Manuka Honey UMF 24, is very expensive to produce because only 1% of the crop can be used to make the honey. In contrast to other types of manuka honey and honey brands claiming to be manuka, Steens Manuka Honey UMF 24 is one of the highest UMF-rated honeys and likely has some of the highest potency by the time it reaches you. Rather than measuring peroxide activity (a common, yet of questionable valuable, practice) to gauge the quality of their honey, Steens Manuka Honey UMF 24 uses the UMF grading, Leptosperin and MGO level as a guide to how effective the honey will stay by the time it gets to the consumer.
Steens Manuka Honey UMF 24 also offers a beneficial feature that allows you to see the area of land (not just the factory) the honey in your batch actually came from through their website.
Steens Manuka Honey UMF 24 is very expensive when compared to the alternatives out there. While it might be worth the price for some people, it is hard to know if it will offer enough value above a lower quality option for any given person.
- Super premium, minimally processed manuka honey.
- UMF 24 rating among the highest out there.
- Significantly more expensive than less quality but somewhat comparable brands.
3. Comvita Certified UMF 15+ – Good Value
Comvita Certified UMF 15+ Super Premium Manuka Honey offers a quality, less expensive but UMF-certified option for manuka honey. Also hailing from New Zealand, Comvita Certified UMF 15+ Super Premium Manuka Honey is non-GMO and certified kosher. Comvita Certified UMF 15+ is a nice option for people who want a manuka honey with a reasonable UMF rating at a decent price.
Comvita Heritage, the company behind Comvita Certified UMF 15+ Manuka Honey, has been in business for over forty years and manages 40,000 hives. Featuring manuka honey that is traceable to the source, the company works with beekeepers in the community and prides itself on sustainability. Comvita is also unusual as it also supplies medical-grade manuka honey for wound care applications to clinics.
Comvita Certified UMF 15+ Manuka Honey mixes well in warm water and one can consider drinking this type of beverage before breakfast. The taste is also good for anyone who prefers to take a tablespoon of honey straight.
Yes, ideal way to take it is to dissolve it in a glass of lukewarm water along with a half lime squeezed first thing in the morning before you eat anything. The lime makes the water alkaline and helps the stomach and the honey is good for overall health. You can also eat by spoon on its own. Comvita Certified UMF 15+ Manuka Honey can also be applied to the skin and may help accelerate healing.
Comvita Certified UMF 15+ (Super Premium) Manuka Honey is typically packaged in a plastic bottle which might be an issue for anyone who wants to avoid possible plastic leaching. Some people who have particularly sensitive taste buds might not find this brand to taste as good as some of the other manuka honey brands on the market.
- UMF-certified manuka honey at a reasonable price.
- Well-established company with a four decade history.
- Plastic container is a turnoff to some.
Onuku Manuka Honey is another high-quality, pure manuka honey from New Zealand. With a UMF certification of 20+ and an MGO rating of 830+, Onuku Manuka Honey packs a punch. Onuku Manuka Honey originates from the base of Mount Tarawera (a New Zealand volcano) to a 2000+ hectare piece of land overseen by the Onuku Maori Lands Trust, or OMLT. Onuku Manuka Honey utilizes a special system to track its honey back to these lands in order to deliver a pure manuka honey product – something that has traditionally been included with the manuka honey jar.
Onuku Manuka Honey has a rich amber color. This manuka honey has a light, almost smoky, taste without too much mouthfeel as is sometimes found in other honey brands.
Users report that Onuku Manuka Honey is useful in skin masks, body washes and wound care. You can also take a small spoonful if you have a sore throat as it can have a calming effect. Others report improvements with stomach symptoms like heartburn and stomach upset after using this manuka honey brand. Onuku Manuka Honey mixed well into warm liquids and no refrigeration is required.
Like many other brands of manuka honey, Onuku Manuka Honey does come in a plastic container. Other than that, there is a lot to like about Onuku Manuka Honey and the quality of its taste and effects.
- Traceable origins and UMF certified.
- Light, smooth taste.
- Another quality manuka honey brand in a plastic container.
5. Wild Cape UMF 10+ East Cape Manuka Honey – Best Manuka Honey for Face / Acne
Wild Cape UMF 10+ East Cape Manuka Honey is a UMF+ manuka honey brand that offers a more affordable option for people who would rather have a lower cost option with a UMF certification. Wild Cape UMF 10+ East Cape Manuka Honey is sourced from the Ahititi forest in East Cape, North Island, a region on the Eastern part of New Zealand, known for its isolation and nice weather.
Wild Cape UMF 10+ East Cape Manuka Honey prides itself on its ethical farming approach while harvesting. Wild Cape is produced by Savage Horticulture, a company which is led by a beekeeper with decades of experience and employs a team of people who harvest the honey. During production, the honey is carefully removed from the combs and they are returned to the hives, allowing the bees to reuse the combs over and over again and minimizing environmental disruption.
Wild Cape UMF 10+ East Cape Manuka Honey has a light color and mild, enjoyable favor – something that is reportedly a result of the region in New Zealand from which the manuka honey is sourced. Wild Cape UMF 10+ East Cape Manuka Honey is made in certified, BPA-free plastic containers.
- UMF-certified manuka honey at a reasonable cost.
- Plastic container may be an issue for some people.
6. Wedderspoon KFactor 16+ Raw Manuka Honey – KFactor-Certified Manuka Honey
Wedderspoon KFactor 16+ Raw Manuka Honey is a non-GMO raw manuka honey that opted to be certified by KFactor. KFactor is a different quality system certified by the New Zealand government that is primarily used by Wedderspoon. The KFactor 16+ rating signifies that at least 75% of the pollen in this manuka honey brand contains pollen grains that originate from manuka flowers.
Wedderspoon KFactor 16+ Raw Manuka Honey is unpasteurized and has a pleasant, creamy taste. The consistency is almost paste-like and thicker than many other manuka honey brands. Users report that it is a helpful remedy for stomach discomfort and an immune booster. Other users swear that it enhances wound healing. Like most manuka honey brands, no refrigeration is needed for Wedderspoon Raw Manuka Honey.
Depending on how you feel, you might have hesitation with Wedderspoon KFactor 16+ Raw Manuka Honey because it lacks a UMF certification. This manuka honey brand is also packaged in a plastic BPA-free jar. Nonetheless, it is a good quality manuka honey and one to try if the UMF label is not that important to you.
- Certification to have pollen grains from manuka flowers.
- Smooth, pleasant taste with numerous long-term users.
- Lacks UMF certification rating.
7. Pure New Zealand Manuka Honey – Mellow Tasting Manuka Honey
Pure New Zealand Manuka Honey is independently tested for authenticity. One of the nice features of this manuka honey is that the individual packages come with a batch code that allows the honey itself to be traceable to their origins. This manuka honey brand is minimally processed and unpasteurized. Pure New Zealand Manuka Honey has also gained some of its reputation from its relationship with the New Zealand National Rugby Team.
Pure New Zealand Manuka Honey is quite thick and has an earthy, almost medicine-like, taste. Some people might not find it as sweet on the spectrum of the higher end manuka honey brands out there. It also has a grittier texture. Users of Pure New Zealand Manuka Honey report improvements with heartburn and stomach discomfort. At a 514+ MGO rating, Pure New Zealand Manuka Honey users also have reported experiences of improved immunity and wound healing and an anti-itch effect on mosquito bites.
While many people appreciate the mellow taste of Pure New Zealand Manuka Honey, the package is quite small and it is slightly more expensive that other comparable brands.
- Mellow, medicinal taste is not overpowering.
- UMF certified purity backed by robust tracking system.
- On the expensive side when compared to other similar manuka honey brands.
Manuka Health MGO 400+ Manuka Honey is said to hail from manuka plants in remote parts of New Zealand. Manuka Health MGO 400+ Manuka Honey is an unusual manuka honey brand because it lacks both UMF and KFactor certifications. Instead, it simply bills itself as a quality manuka honey with an MGO 400+ rating that undergoes independent testing before being packaged. Extraction, packaging and distribution for this manuka honey product is done at a custom ISO17025 accredited facility in New Zealand. With this setup, the company has control of the manuka honey from start to package and it has numerous other quality accreditations to show for it.
Manuka Health MGO 400+ Manuka Honey is quite thick with a smooth texture from the creaming process the honey undergoes in the facility. Manuka Health MGO Manuka Honey brand has a robust flavor.
Manuka Health MGO 400+ Manuka Honey does not need to be refrigerated. Many users of Manuka Health MGO 400+ Manuka Honey are fond of it for the standard range of manuka honey effects, including improvements in stomach discomfort, wound healing and immunity.
Manuka Health MGO 400+ Manuka Honey requires more of a gamble when it comes to manuka honey. While many users have positive things to say about this manuka honey brand, it is not certified by either UMF or KFactor even though the company is aligned with recent standards put forth by the government. With this approach, caveat emptor is something that any buyer must consider when deciding to take a chance with what seems like a quality manuka honey.
- Production done at an ISO17025 accredited lab & facility.
- Variety of user reports of highly beneficial effects.
- Lack of UMF or KFactor certifications will turn off some people.
Raw Manuka Honey – FAQ
What is manuka honey and why is it becoming so popular?
Manuka honey is produced in New Zealand by European honey bees that interact with a special tree called the Manuka tree (Leptospermum scoparium, also known as a tea tree). The Manuka tree is very sensitive to weather changes and only produces flowers for fewer than six weeks per year, resulting in a limited amount of pollination time for the bees. In fact, to protect this delicate ecosystem, some Manuka trees and hives are located in highly remote regions in the country.
Manuka honey is a type of monofloral honey. Monofloral honey is largely sourced from the nectar of only one type of plant, giving it a distinctive flavor. While no honey can ever truly be sourced only from one plant source, largely monofloral honeys can be made by restrictive planting and harvesting to keep the sources pure.
Because of its unusual protein structure, Manuka honey is known for its thickness, or viscosity. Dark in color, manuka honey usually has a floral, earthy flavor with strong aromas. Manuka honey is rich in B vitamins, amino acids and minerals (typically verified by its electrical conductivity). Potential health benefits of manuka honey range from would healing to skin health and as an oral supplement that can be readily added to foods.
Best Manuka Honey & UMF Rating
Given the high value of raw manuka honey, imitation forms of manuka honey have come to the market in an effort to sell product at the higher prices commanded by manuka honey. This is also complicated because manuka trees blossom at the same time as the kanuka tree which produces a similar, but constitutionally different, honey. While less than 2,000 tons of manuka honey are made annually, over five times that amount is branded as “manuka honey” and is sold internationally.
To combat this reality, a rating scale known as Unique Manuka Factor, or UMF®, has been created to certify authentic manuka honey using criteria set up by the UMFHA (UMF Honey Association). Many beekeepers will say that the UMF standard is the gold standard for manuka honey quality testing. Using their scientific process, UMF certifications are provided on a scale ranging from 5+ to 20+, the rarest available. The UMF process tests for four specific compounds – DHA, leptosperin, methylglyoxal, and NPA.
DHA stands for dihydroxyacetate. DHA is found in the nectar of manuka honey and particularly high levels are seen when the honey is fresh. Over several years, DHA metabolizes into methylglyoxal, or MGO, and the speed at which it metabolizes depends on the temperature of the honey.
Leptosperin is a compound that is derived from the nectar of manuka plant. Leptosperin has high stability, making it useful to verify whether a specific type of honey is actually from manuka nectar.
Methylglyoxal, or MGO, is the product of DHA metabolism. MGO is a marker of manuka honey and some companies think manuka honey can help determine a UMF rating.
NPA is an abbreviation for the term non-peroxide activity. One of the benefits of honey is that it results in the production of a hydrogen peroxide compound that is released when enzymes in the honey interact with the body. Hydrogen peroxide has antimicrobial properties and this is one of the ways in which honey might have antiseptic properties. Unfortunately, peroxide activity is hard to measure accurately because it does not last long. Manuka honey has non-peroxide activity, or NPA, which is much more stable and therefore easier to measure. This is why NPA is another useful compound to measure when evaluating the purity of manuka honey.
Not everyone believes that UMF certification is necessary. Some argue that UMF certification just adds to the cost of bringing quality manuka honey to the market and does not add real value to helping consumers differentiate between good manuka honey brands and bad ones.
Top Manuka Honey Benefits
One of the exciting aspects of manuka honey is the wide range of benefits that it is reported to provide outside of its standard use as a honey product. Here is an overview of potential other benefits one might experience with manuka honey.
Some people have anecdotally reported that honey, and especially manuka honey, seems to have antimicrobial properties. Recent research suggests that the antimicrobial properties from manuka honey is the result of a compound it contains known as methylglyoxal. Methylglyoxal is a compound that helps protect the body’s health at a cellular level. Methylglyoxal is found in all types of honey and higher concentrations are associated with increased antimicrobial activity. Preferably, the concentration of methylglyoxal in the honey should be over 100mg/kg, also described as MGO 100+, with super high levels of MGO 400+ possibly demonstrating a powerful effect against microbes. The methylglyoxal found in manuka honey may be even more powerful than regular honey.
Skin Health and Acne
Many people report a wide variety of skin health benefits with regular use of manuka honey. For example, regular manuka honey application may help improve medical skin conditions like eczema or rosacea.
Also, manuka honey has been touted as a natural skin toner. Many believe that a quality manuka honey can help pull dirt out of clogged follicles and improve skin health. In more severe cases, a good manuka honey for acne is something like Wild Cape UMF 10 as it is UMF certified to provide a baseline level of quality but is inexpensive enough that it won’t break the bank with ongoing use.
In addition to being touted for its antimicrobial properties, manuka honey has a wider range of other applications. Possible benefits from manuka honey include using it for sore throats or as an energy booster. Manuka honey may also be useful as a treatment for dandruff and possibly hair loss.
Best Manuka Honey – Summary
With luck, this article will have provided you with a basis to understand all about manuka honey and have a way to differentiate between different brands to find the best manuka honey brand out there for you. Please feel free to comment if you have experiences with how manuka honey has worked for you and best of luck with your health!