Manuka Honey vs. Raw Honey: What Are the Differences?

Manuka Honey vs. Raw Honey: What Are the Differences?
Michael Bell

Michael Bell

8 minutes

Executive Summary:

  • Regular honey is generally processed and pasteurized using high heat to create a consistent texture and color. Raw honey is unpasteurized, protecting its beneficial nutrients.
  • Raw honey has been used for thousands of years to support digestive health, the immune system, and overall wellness. Raw honey contains prebiotics, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Manuka honey is a rare form of raw honey made from the flowers of the New Zealand Manuka tea tree. It contains MGO, Leptosperin, and other naturally occurring beneficial compounds.

 

The Difference Between Manuka Honey vs Raw Honey

Over the last couple of years, Manuka honey has become quite trendy in health-conscious circles. Maybe you’ve heard of it but are unsure what to make of it. 

How is Manuka honey different from the raw honey offered at your local farmer’s market? Is it a better option? What exactly makes Manuka honey special? 

We’ve got all the answers to your questions and more. Here’s what you need to know.

 

What Is Raw Honey?

First, let’s talk about how honey is made. 

Bees produce honey from the collected nectar of flowers. They gather up nectar, process it using a special enzyme in their digestive systems, then pack it into a honeycomb. 

From there, the bees flap their wings to dry and cure the nectar, turning it into honey. Then it’s harvested by a beekeeper, potentially processed (we’ll get to this in a minute), and packaged for consumption.

The regular honey you find at the grocery store is generally pasteurized and filtered, which helps give it a consistent color and texture to meet the expectations many shoppers have when looking for the standard bottle of honey. However, the pasteurization process requires heating the honey to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, destroying some of its naturally occurring beneficial nutrients. 

Enter raw honey. This honey is left in its natural form, skipping the pasteurization process and retaining its beneficial nutrients. Sometimes raw honey is filtered for a smoother texture and to remove impurities. Other times, it’s sold just as it was found in the hive, honeycomb intact and all. 

Benefits of Raw Honey

Raw honey is packed with more than 180 substances, including prebiotics, essential minerals (potassium, calcium, magnesium), and vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and C). Unfortunately, most of these beneficial compounds can be destroyed by pasteurization.

Raw honey is left in its natural form and is minimally processed. It may or may not be filtered, but you’ll still find most of its original beneficial nutrients intact.       

Thanks to all those beneficial nutrients, humans have been using raw honey for its health benefits for thousands of years. Raw honey is most often used to support immunity, digestion, and overall wellness.

 

What Is Manuka Honey?

Manuka honey is a special kind of honey made by bees that forage on flowers from the Manuka tea tree (Leptospermum scoparium), native to New Zealand. Since this type of tree is only found in one region of the world and its flowers only bloom for a few weeks each year, Manuka honey is quite rare. That’s one of the reasons it’s so prized and expensive

Another thing to note is that Manuka honey is monofloral, meaning it’s produced from just one type of flower. These flowers have a special substance called leptosperin, a nutrient that offers unique healing properties. 

Unique Benefits of Manuka Honey 

Manuka honey contains methylglyoxal (MGO), a potent nutrient with antibacterial properties. You’ll also find leptosperin and dihydroxyacetone (DHA) in Manuka honey, plus hundreds of other beneficial nutrients like antioxidants and prebiotics.

Because of these, Manuka honey can be used to support a healthy immune response, digestive health, healthy energy levels, and overall well-being. 

However you plan to use your Manuka honey, it’s useful to understand the MGO levels. Higher MGO honey offers more bang for your buck, while a lower grade offers milder benefits. We recommend 200+ MGO for daily wellness and vitality, 600+ MGO for daily immune support, 850+ MGO for daily digestive support, and 1000+ MGO for advanced support.

Sensory-wise, Manuka honey is darker, thicker, and more textured than most of the honey you’ll find at the supermarket. When the MGO level is higher, it can even taste slightly earthy and floral. However, to most of its devoted fans, there’s nothing more delicious and satisfying than a rich, creamy spoonful of Manuka honey — it’s truly a sensory experience like no other!

 

What Makes Manuka Honey Different From Raw Honey?

Manukora Manuka honey is raw honey.

It would be a shame to destroy all those beneficial nutrients (especially MGO) with heat, particularly since this honey is so rare. This is why our Manuka is always kept raw. 

It’s more helpful to think of our Manukora Manuka as a type of raw honey that goes above and beyond — that’s why we call it a Honey With Superpowers™. 

 

What Are the Similarities Between Manuka and Raw Honey? 

While Manuka honey is raw honey, it’s helpful to look at the similarities between most other types of raw honey and Manuka honey to get a grasp on what makes Manuka unique. 

They’re both raw.

Manuka honey is typically raw, meaning it’s minimally processed and not pasteurized. Both options have a leg up over the pasteurized, processed honey you see at the grocery store. 

They have their beneficial nutrients intact.

Since they’re not heat treated, raw honey and Manuka honey have their beneficial nutrients intact. Raw honey that doesn’t come from the Manuka tea tree doesn’t have MGO, but it does have other beneficial substances that processed honey doesn’t. Plus, many more uses for raw honey are being studied with each passing year.  

 

What Are the Differences Between Manuka and Raw Honey?

Now that we have looked at the similarities, let’s dig into the differences between Manuka and other types of raw honey.

Manuka is always monofloral.

Remember how we said Manuka honey is made almost exclusively with nectar from Manuka tea tree flowers? Being monofloral tends to make honey darker and more potent. This is especially true for Manuka honey. Manuka honey is tested to ensure it comes from a single source and to verify that it’s authentic. 

That said, most raw honey isn’t monofloral but is instead produced from various flower sources. A few types of non-Manuka raw honey may be monofloral, but this isn’t typical, and there’s usually no way to verify that the honey comes from just one source. 

Manuka honey is sourced from only one region.

You can only get Manuka honey from one region of the world. Manuka tea trees are native to New Zealand. Thus, authentic Manuka honey is only produced in New Zealand. With a short flowering season and geographic restraints, Manuka honey is one of the rarest kinds of honey in the world.

Because of its rarity, we at Manukora take our responsibility to produce this precious honey seriously. We’re committed to protecting our environment with native reforestation along waterways, and we only source our Manuka honey from ethical beekeepers who treat their bees right. 

Only Manuka has MGO.

While raw honey has many beneficial nutrients like antioxidants and essential vitamins and minerals, you won’t find MGO in any other honey. Surprisingly, MGO only comes from the Manuka tea tree. 

Manuka honey is tested and graded.

In New Zealand, the government requires all Manuka honey to go through testing in a Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) recognized laboratory to ensure it meets the official Manuka honey definition. 

The honey must meet two main standards:

  • A chemical test to ensure the honey has adequate levels of MGO, leptosperin, and DHA.

  • A DNA test to ensure the honey qualifies is monofloral and originates from flowers of the Manuka tree.

At Manukora, we go even further and independently test every batch of Manuka Honey using 15 different factors. This is to verify that our honey is monofloral, non-GMO, herbicide-free, and meets the highest standards of authenticity and potency. 

The exceptional quality of Manuka Honey MGO 200 at Manukora, where each batch undergoes rigorous testing across 15 different factors, ensuring our honey is purely monofloral, non-GMO, and free from herbicides.

For those seeking even higher potency, explore our Manuka Honey 20+ MGO850 and the ultra-premium Manuka Honey UMF 24+ MGO1123, each offering a unique taste and health benefits.

Along with this, delve into our informative guides like Savoring Manuka Honey, learn about Plants for Honey Bees, discover the breathtaking NZ Landscape for Manuka Honey, and understand How Many Bees in a Hive contribute to creating this exquisite honey.

Our Manuka honey even comes with a QR code where you can see the results of this testing, plus get information about the individual beehive and its beekeeper.

 

Summary 

Raw honey is unpasteurized honey that’s left in its natural form, with all of its beneficial nutrients intact. Meanwhile, Manuka honey goes a step further. Manuka is a type of raw honey with a potent compound called MGO, which no other honey has!

Explore our authentic, MGO-rated, ethically-produced New Zealand Manuka honey here

 

FAQs

What is raw honey?

Raw honey is honey in its natural state, not subjected to pasteurization. It retains all of its beneficial nutrients, which can be destroyed during the pasteurization (heating) process.

How does raw honey compare to regular honey?

The main difference between raw honey vs honey is the pasteurization process. Regular honey is often pasteurized, while raw honey isn't, allowing it to retain more beneficial compounds.

How does manuka honey compare to regular honey?

Manuka honey is produced from a single type of flower, the Manuka tea tree flower. It contains unique beneficial nutrients, like MGO, that are not present in regular honey.

How does manuka honey compare to raw honey?

Manuka honey is a type of raw honey that contains MGO, a nutrient unique to the Manuka tea tree. It's also exclusively from New Zealand, making it rare and more expensive than other types of honey.

 

Sources:

Phenolic Compounds in Honey and Their Associated Health Benefits: A Review | PMC

Health Benefits of Honey | IntechOpen

Dynamics of the Cellular Metabolism of Leptosperin Found in Manuka Honey | PMC

Antibacterial activity of Manuka honey and its components: An overview | PMC

Monofloral Honeys as a Potential Source of Natural Antioxidants, Minerals and Medicine | PMC

What makes mānuka honey 100 times more expensive than regular honey | Business Insider

Testing mānuka honey is authentic | NZ Government

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