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Manuka honey comes from the leptospermum family of plants known in New Zealand as Manuka and in Australia as either Manuka, teatree or jellybush. Many manuka honeys have strong anti-bacterial properties and medical applications. Manuka honey has a rich, malty flavour; and typically a dark amber colour and thick,  creamy texture. Choose from a wide range of brands here including Arataki, Airborne, Blue Hills, Cradle Mountain, the Tasmanian Honey Company and MIellerie.

Manuka honey ratings numbers show the anti-bacterial strength of the honey and are usually indicated on the label by a + (i.e. plus) symbol. More precisely, these numbers show the concentration of laboratory standard phenol bleach, needed to kill bacteria in the same amount as the honey. (So a 10+ rating indicates that the honey will kill bacteria at the same rate, as a 10% phenol solution.)

Of course, all honey, when it is new, has an anti-bacterial capacity, because of its natural peroxide levels. A Total Activity (TA) rating includes that capability.

But because that peroxide capabiltiy disappears relatively quickly, Manuka producers prefer to use a Non-Peroxide Activity or NPA rating on their labels.

In New Zealand, an industry association has trademarked a standard NPA rating and called it the Unique Manuka Factor or UMF.

More recently, scientists have established that a naturally occuring compound - Methylglyoxal or MGO is responsible for the majority of the special anti-bacterial capacities of Manuka honey. So some Manuka producers now label their honey with a number indicating how much MGO, by weight is in the honey. (MGO ratings are typically expressed as the weight in milligrams per kilogram of honey).

For more information the book by Cliff Eaton - manuka the biography of an extraordinary honey - is recommended and available for purchase here.