Thursday, June 10, 2021

Buying New Zealand Manuka Honey: UMF vs MGO Ratings

When it comes to manuka honey, it's important to know what you're buying. I recently learned a lot from Manuka Honey Singapore about how honey is rated and certified. We are all very familiar with the MGO (Methylglyoxal) number that measures this antibacterial compound in honey.

However, there is a more complete and advanced grading system called the Unique Manuka Factor or UMF that measures not just MGO but also Leptosperin (the natural chemical only found from Manuka plants) and DHA. The UMF rating certifies genuine Manuka honey from New Zealand. This number is usually between 5 to 25, and the MGO numbers are usually higher, so this can cause confusion when you're buying manuka honey.

The parities are something like this: 

UMF 5 = MGO83

UMF10 = MGO263

UMF15 = MGO514

UMF20 = MGO829

UMF25 = MGO1200

Pouatu fruit bowl
photo from Pouatu Manuka

UMF 5+ is table grade honey, good for normal usage, like adding to your coffee, tea or food. Use UMF 10+ or 15 for wellness, e.g. eating a teaspoon once you get up in the morning, drinking by mixing with only plain water. UMF 15 to 20 is antibacterial grade and good for wounds, skin treatment and other therapy uses. The higher the number, the more rare and potent it is.

Pouatu harvest
photo from Pouatu Manuka 

Manuka honey is really rare and difficult to harvest. The manuka bush (native to New Zealand) grows at a certain altitude and the harvest window is only 2-6 weeks. Helicopters are often used to fly in the beehives to collect the nectar. This is why it's even more important to have this expensive honey quality tested and assured.      

Pouatu Manuka Honey

So Manuka Honey Singapore is an online shop and it carries the Mother Earth Manuka Honey and Pouatu Manuka Honey brands, both of which are bottled directly in New Zealand (not shipped to other countries where they may be blended). Both are UMF certified and carry the official UMF logo (yellow and black).

Pouatu UMF Cert

Manuka Honey Singapore

I was fortunate enough to get to taste the following, and also got feedback from friends and family:

Mother Earth MultiFloral Honey (S$14.95): this is the lightest in terms of viscosity but also the most floral in taste. While it's not manuka honey, it's still absolutely delicious. Children seem to like this the most.

Mother Earth Manuka Honey UMF 5+ (S$32.90) equivalent to MGO 83+ : You can now detect the signature earthy and almost nutty nuances of the manuka honey. It may be an acquired taste, especially for my friends who were used to normal honey, but it's intriguing for sure. 

Mother Earth Manuka Honey UMF 10+ (S$39.90) equivalent to MGO 263+ : As the concentration of MGO goes higher, the honey takes on a hint of medicinal complexity in its flavour. But this is still roundly floral in fragrance. 

Pouatu Manuka Honey UMF 20+ (S$128.90) equivalent to MGO 829+ : now this is the most thick and creamy of all four, with a very fine grainy texture It also tastes quite different from the Mother Earth honeys. It's less sweet but more heady with a tinge of peaty bitterness? Like the whisky of honeys.

Pouatu farm
photo from Pouatu Manuka Pouatu Manuka is a boutique honey company from New Zealand’s Taranaki Region in the central North Island. Perhaps the terroir in the isolated Tangarakau, deep within the "Forgotten World" lends a certain quality to the manuka honey produced here.

Pouatu honeycomb bees
photo from Pouatu Manuka

Sometimes I feel bad taking honey from bees. They worked so hard for this! >.< But there's usually more than enough, and harvesting keeps them bee-sy collecting more honey!


Just out of curiosity, I did a comparison test of diluted honey. Look at how the Mother Earth honeys compare to commercial honey (far left) which is so pale!

If you'd like to try Mother Earth and Pouatu, there's a promotion on-going for June on Manuka Honey Singapore. Let me know what you think of them.

Mix and Match any 2 bottles to get 10% OFF or 3 bottles and more to get 20% OFF.

Discount will apply automatically in the cart. Ends 30th June.

Many thanks to Manuka Honey Singapore for sending me the samples and patiently educating me on honey ratings and certification!

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