What does manuka honey taste like?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “what does manuka honey taste like” with an in-depth analysis of the taste profile of manuka honey. Moreover, we are going to discuss the difference between manuka honey and regular honey.

So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.

What does manuka honey taste like?

Manuka honey has a medium sweetness profile that is not too strong or intense. Moreover, it also has subtle nutty and woody notes with a slightly bitter after taste that makes its overall taste profile much more appetizing and delicious.

In general, the honey market depends significantly on wealth trends that indirectly indicate the possibility of adopting healthy dietary consumption behaviors. Studies investigating consumer behavior revealed that 8% of consumers had never used honey, whereas 75% of consumers used a maximum of 500 g of honey per year (1).

While talking about the texture and consistency of manuka honey, it has a viscous consistency that compliments your desserts, cereals, or beverages in which it is added as topping or dressing. Moreover, when it is warmed it has a silky and smooth consistency that spreads well in your mouth giving your taste buds a rich flavor of the honey.

The appearance of manuka honey is rather the same as that of regular honey. It has an amber to brown color that is rather opaque.

Something that tastes good also ought to smell good and only then it will make itself quite appetizing for us. So when it comes to the smell of manuka honey, it has subtle notes of nutty smell with slightly earthy and herbal hints to it. Thereby it will give a natural natty smell that compliments the flavor profile of manuka honey.

You can read about the benefits of manuka honey here.

How to use manuka, honey?

Manuka honey can be used in the same way as regular honey. It can be used as a topping or dressing over your favorite cereal, ice-cream, or cake. Moreover, you can use it in a cup of warm water or milk to get the benefits of manuka honey. You can use it to compliment the flavor of your desserts, your pies, or granola bar.

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What is the difference between manuka honey and regular honey?

Manuka honey is a special type of honey that is made by the bees that collect nectar from Leptospermum scoparium or manuka bush. While regular honey is formed by the nectar collected from a variety of flowers. The botanical origin of honey is important because it can significantly affect the phytochemicals present and can consequently impact on the antimicrobial capacity (2).

While talking about the flavor profile, on one hand regular honey is sweet in taste owing to the presence of a large amount of fructose and glucose in it. The aroma of honey is specific due to the combination of volatile compounds present in low concentrations. Honey volatiles can be used as a fingerprint for the botanical origin of honey (2). On the other hand, manuka honey has a slight worry and nutty flavor to it apart from the medium sweet taste profile. This nutty, woody taste profile of manuka honey is the result of the presence of a large number of phenolic compounds and antioxidants in manuka honey. In a study, there were significant differences in the composition and content of volatile components among honey samples analyzed. Manuka honey had the most volatile components. Citral, 1-phenylethanol, (Z)-2-octenal, (E)-3-Octen-2-one, γ-Octalactone, and Citronellol could be used as the characteristic components of Manuka honey (2).

Several studies have determined that the major flavonoids in manuka honey are: pinobanksin, pinocembrin and chrysin, while luteolin, quercetin, 8-methoxy kaempferol, isorhamnetin, kaempferol and galangin have been also identified in minor concentration. Other constituents of interest found in manuka honey are: different 1,2-dicarbonyl compounds, such as glyoxal, 3-deoxyglucosone and methylglyoxal. These compounds are typically formed during the Maillard reaction or caramelization reactions as degradation products from reducing carbohydrates (3).

Manuka honey is more creamy and vicious as compared to regular honey. Thus, its texture is thick as compared to regular honey.

Last but not least, manuka honey also differs a bit from regular honey when it comes to color as manuka honey has a darker color as compared to regular honey.

General composition of honey

Honey is a supersaturated solution of the sugars that contains more than 70% of the sugars and less than 20% of water present in its formulation that gives it the viscous consistency (2).

Now looking at the percentage of the solute (sugar) in the solvent (water) in the case of honey we know that the honey has more sugar present in its formulation than the normal cases which makes that structure of honey rather unstable and this is the very reason that real honey crystallizes.

Now the sugars that are present in honey are the disaccharide sugars fructose and glucose. Honey contains 30-44% of fructose in its composition while it contains 25-40% of glucose which means that the fructose content of honey is more than its glucose content (2).

It is the relative concentration of these two sugars that determine the rate at which honey crystallizes. It is worth mentioning that fructose is more soluble as compared to glucose. Therefore the sugar that mainly comes out of the solution to make crystals is glucose. 

Because of the lower solubility, the glucose is believed to be the crystallizing sugar. Studies indicated that the relative content of glucose and fructose had a significant effect on the crystallization of honey. The glucose/fructose at 2.5:1 probably is the critical ratio of honey crystallization, at which honey can form stable crystalline deposits speedily (4).

Now what happens is that glucose comes out of the solution and it begins to form tiny crystals on the surface of honey. If the process of crystallization continues, then more and more glucose crystals will deposit on the surface of honey. Now when the glucose comes out of the honey, it makes the supersaturated honey into a saturated one that is a stable condition. 


In this brief guide, we answered the question “what does manuka honey taste like” with an in-depth analysis of the taste profile of manuka honey. Moreover, we discussed the difference between manuka honey and regular honey.


  1. Ismaiel, Sobhy, et al. Factors that affect consumption patterns and market demands for honey in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Food Nutr Sci, 2014.
  2. Zhang, Yan-Zheng, et al. Chemical analyses and antimicrobial activity of nine kinds of unifloral Chinese honeys compared to Manuka honey (12+ and 20+). Molecules, 2021, 26, 2778.  
  3. Alvarez-Suarez, José M., et al. The composition and biological activity of honey: a focus on Manuka honey. Foods, 2014, 3, 420-432.
  4. Ma, Yun, et al. Chemical and molecular dynamics analysis of crystallization properties of honey. Int J Food Prop, 2017, 20, 725-733.