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

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

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 compounds.
  • 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 tree. It contains MGO, Leptosperin, and other naturally occurring beneficial compounds.


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? And 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, destroying some of its naturally occurring beneficial compounds. 

Enter raw honey. It’s honey left in its natural form, skipping the pasteurization process and retaining its health-promoting substances. 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. 

The bottom line? Whether filtered or not, raw honey is typically not heat treated, and because of that, it retains beneficial compounds you won’t get with the pasteurized honey that often occupies grocery store shelves.


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). Many 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 health-promoting substances intact.       

Thanks to all those beneficial compounds, humans have been using raw honey for its health benefits for thousands of years. Raw honey is most often used for immune and digestive support, skin care, and as an aid to overall wellness. 


What Is Manuka Honey?

Manuka honey is a special kind of honey made by bees that forage on flowers from the Manuka 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, one compound that gives Manuka honey its unique healing properties. 


Unique Benefits of Manuka Honey 

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

Because of these, Manuka honey can be used to empower your immune response, aid digestive health, and support 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 will be more potent for your wellness, 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 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 compounds (especially MGO) with heat, particularly since this honey is so rare, so our Manuka is always kept raw. 

It’s more helpful to think of our Manuka as a type of raw honey that goes above and beyond — that’s why we call it 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 Compounds Intact

Since they’re not heat treated, raw honey and Manuka honey have their beneficial compounds intact. Raw honey that doesn’t come from the Manuka bush doesn’t have MGO, but it does have other health-promoting 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 tree flowers? Being monofloral tends to make honey darker and more beneficially 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 From Only One Region 

You can only get Manuka honey from one region of the world. Manuka trees are native to New Zealand, so 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

You won’t find MGO in any other honey, as MGO specifically comes from the Manuka tree. Raw honey has many beneficial compounds like antioxidants and essential vitamins and minerals. But it simply doesn’t have the medicinal potency of raw Manuka honey. 

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. 

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.



Raw honey is unpasteurized honey that’s left in its natural form, with all of its beneficial compounds intact. Meanwhile, Manuka honey is a type of raw honey with a potent natural compound called MGO, which is what’s responsible for Manuka's unique wellness-supporting capabilities. 

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


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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