It’s arrived! We’re kickstarting our first Meluka Australia blog post with one of the most common questions we get asked - the difference between Meluka and Manuka honey!
About Meluka Australia
Firstly, a little about us. We proudly own and operate one of the largest organic tea tree plantations in the world. We’re an Australian owned and operated company, with a vision to bring the world health and wellness products derived from the powerful Melaleuca alternifolia tea tree, more commonly known as ‘Australian tea tree’.
With its creamy, snow white masses of flowers and evergreen leaves, Melaleuca alternifolia is the same species that tea tree oil is produced from, and if you're familiar with tea tree oil you'll know it has powerful anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties!
Take a journey with us to the picturesque coastal regions of Australia’s Northern New South Wales, where deep in the Bungawalbin Valley you will find an old growth Melaleuca Alternifolia forest with one-thousand-year-old mother trees that are the heartbeat to this delicate ecosystem. It’s an untouched, pristine and completely organic environment.
Meluka honey and Manuka honey
Let’s look at the difference! Both Leptospermum and Melaleuca are different species of the Myrtaceae (Myrtle) family. The Leptospermum scoparium is native to New Zealand and the east coast of Australia, and that’s the species that bees forage from to produce Manuka honey.
Our Meluka farm is located at the heart of the birthplace of the Melaleuca Alternifolia species of tea tree, in the pristine Northern Rivers of Australia’s state of Northern New South Wales. This Melaleuca species thrives on our organic farm, and in the Bungawalbin region, having done so for tens of thousands of years. It is from the leaves of these Melaleuca trees that we produce our organic, tea tree extract (not to be confused with tea tree oil, but we’ll get to that soon!). This extract is what we infuse into our medicinal tea tree honey.
Manuka is produced by bees foraging from the Leptospermum Scoparium species of tea tree, a different species from the same Myrtle family. This species is native to New Zealand and the East Coast of Australia. Hailing from the manuka tree, Leptospermum Scoparium, manuka honey is produced in Australia and New Zealand. Bees there pollinate the native manuka bush, and producers then extract the honey and create manuka honey.
The origin of Australian tea tree
Tea Tree was one of the most powerful Australian indigenous bush medicines used by the traditional Bundjalung people from the North Coast of New South Wales.
In 1770, after landing in Botany Bay, Captain James Cook continued his exploration north through the coastal regions of New South Wales. During this journey, he and his botanists noted huge groves of trees with sticky, aromatic leaves. They observed the local Aboriginals drinking a brew from the leaves of this tree and applying a tincture of salve on wounds with paperbark…this is where the name “tea” tree was born.
Tea tree fact: ‘alternifolia’ is a botanical term, meaning having leaves that alternate on each side of a stem
The Meluka Australia honey family
Meluka Australia’s honey range starts with our native wildflower honey, produced by healthy bees foraging from tea tree and seasonal wildflowers that grow throughout the Bungawalbin region. Building on our everyday honey product, comes our infused range of tea tree honey and our hemp seed honey, which in future will be complemented with a further offering of Australian native plant based whole food infusions!
Tea tree range
Meluka’s medicinal tea tree honey is infused with our very own tea tree extract. Remember those special mother trees we mentioned before? Our respect for the role these mother trees play in the natural environment is reflected in our unique commitment to wild crafting. What’s wild crafting you ask? Well put more simply, hand harvesting our tea tree leaves in a sustainable way to maintain the integrity of the natural environment.
From our wildcrafted harvest, we produce our organic tea tree extract. An aqueous (water based) extract infusion that delivers the signature tea tree anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties.
Meluka’s infused range has adopted the Tea Tree Factor (TTF) rating system, a unique rating system assessing the level of tea tree extract infusion, certified organic status, origin and traceability back to the master beekeeper.
Let’s get down to the sweet stuff!
Now we’ve covered the differences, let us celebrate the reason Meluka’s honey range is so special! It comes down to a balance between the anti-bacterial (monoterpenes) combined with the antioxidant (phenolic) compounds that occur naturally in our tea tree, resulting in a multi-active honey rich in anti-oxidant, anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties.
There's some interesting findings from research undertaken by Dr David Rudd, of Australia’s Southern Cross University about Meluka’s range in comparison to Manuka:
"Meluka honey shows strong immediate anti-oxidant and sustained anti-microbial activity which is coming directly from the natural bioactive properties of tea tree (Melaleuca Alternifolia) in combination with the properties of multifloral honey. Therefore, Meluka honey doesn't require a lengthy period of chemical ripening to reach its maximum bioactive value - unlike Manuka, which requires the slow chemical ripening of dihydroxyacetone (DHA) to methylglyoxal (MGO)". "Overall, Meluka has shown to be a multi-bioactive honey that has immediate activity not reliant on post-harvest ripening”…
In addition, it was exciting to find that bees foraging on Melaleuca alternifolia received a health benefit, when tea tree is part of the diet of a bee it acted as a probiotic for metabolism bacteria within the honeybees' gut – a great finding to support our mission to improve bee health!
Choosing your honey
Ready to choose your honey? For a honey that contains the benefits of a variety of Australian native flora in addition to Melaleuca, our native wildflower honey is a wonderful option for the whole family. This is the honey you’ll love to drizzle on your toast, use in your baking creations and as a sweetener for your afternoon cup of tea.
If you’re after something a little unique, our native honey infused with hemp seed will wow you – think super rich, thick and luscious honey with visible hemp seed goodness.
To harness the powerful benefits of the Melaleuca species of tea tree through a functional food and topical wound healing solution, we invite you to discover our tea tree infused range of honeys infused with varying levels of tea tree extract. Shop now
Yours, the Meluka family
PS: Don’t forget to follow our socials, we’re soon going to be sharing some simple and yummy honey recipes you and your family are going to love.