Going that Extra Mile: Tasmanian Bio-Active Leatherwood Honey
I love honey with a little extra punch. Honey that heals, honey that fixes a cold, honey that soothes, honey that fights off baddies. But what is it that gives some honey superpowers, you might ask? “Active” honey is honey that has been tested and proven to contain “bioactive” compounds. Of course, Manuka honey first comes to mind when we think of active honey, but what other types of honey have this similar quality?
Introducing Leatherwood Honey! Brought to us by the lovely team at The Tasmanian Honey Company, this special variety is organically harvested in the pristine and remote wilderness on the western side of Tasmania, where the Roaring Forties roll through, bringing constant moisture to the Leatherwood trees (or Eucryphia lucida). Adorned in beautiful white flowers, these trees are used in both the horticulture and apiculture industries.
So, what does Leatherwood Honey taste like? This Tasmanian native honey is unique, described by the International Slow Food Movement as “slightly liquid, [with] a smooth creamy texture”, with “balsamic scents which develop quickly into clean fresh notes of citrus fruits and white flowers” and a flavour that is “lightly spicy” in its finish.
And better still, it is packed with special “active” powers. It has a high antioxidant quality (two to three times richer than that of other honey varieties), contains prebiotics for stomach health, and has wound-healing properties. In this particular variety, the active quality of the honey is due to small amounts of hydrogen peroxide from a naturally occurring enzyme. Derek from the Tasmanian Honey Company described how he treated a very deep cut on his hand for two months with Manuka and Leatherwood varieties of honey: the comparison was quite amazing, with the Leatherwood working wonders on Derek’s cut (which really could have done with a few stitches!) The Leatherwood variety surpassed the Manuka in wound-healing strength, and fixed Derek’s hand right up!
The Tasmanian Honey Company have poured this special batch of honey into amber-coloured jars. The “active” quality of the honey lasts for a whole year in the pantry; after that time, the honey’s active quality starts to diminish until it becomes what is known as normal leatherwood honey with a regular five-year best before date. I am proud to be stocking this special, local product that showcases the diversity and magic of Australian honey varieties. Leatherwood honey starts from $24.95 for a 250ml jar on the Ben’s Bees online store.
Your questions answered about active leatherwood honey!
All pure wild honey is known to possess a range of health properties. A number of studies have shown that honey contains a wide array of vitamins, minerals and trace minerals as well as antioxidants and probiotics. Honey’s composition also makes it an effective antimicrobial agent,useful for treating burns, cuts and for aiding the treatment of sore throats and stomach conditions.
What is Active honey?
‘Active’ refers to honey that has had its properties independently tested (also known to some
as medicinal).These properties are most typically found in the nectar of the Leatherwood or Manuka (tea tree).These are also known for their antimicrobial, anti-fungal and anti- inflammatory properties.
What does Non Peroxide content mean for Leatherwood?
Leatherwood honey is tested for its properties, Peroxide level or Total Activity (Phenol solution equivalent to hospital grade disinfectant phenol). These results are combined to give a rating (i.e. 14+) which is comparable to Manuka.
Testing has also shown Leatherwood to contain high levels of antioxidants and is a significant source of prebiotics (aid for stomach health) as well as an anti- inflammatory when applied to wounds.
What does methylglyoxal content mean for Manuka?
Its medicinal properties are attributable to a substance called methylglyoxal which is created as the bees turn nectar into honey and is unique to manuka. The medicinal potential of manuka honey is expressed in milligrams of methylglyoxal per kilogram of honey (mg / kg) and the claims made on our product labels are verified by independent laboratory testing. It is generally accepted that levels above 100mg/kg are required for effective antimicrobial effects to be observed.
Leatherwood possesses remarkable aromas and flavours; a true distillate of a magnificent ancient landscape. Spicy and piquant…
Tasmania lies on latitude 42 south, sharing this latitude only with the South Island of New Zealand and Southern Chile. Generally a mountainous and inhospitable area. For a brief 6-8 weeks of the year, summer comes to this wild place and with it the annual blooming of the Leatherwood tree, Eucryphia Lucida. The tree bears an abundance of extremely delicate white flowers with a fresh piquant scent. The bees visit these flowers for six weeks from January to mid-March and collect the distinctive aromatic nectar from them. During this time, our beekeepers camp in the remote wilderness while they remove the surplus honey from the beehives, enabling us to provide this highly sought after honey to connoisseurs around the world.
‘In keeping with our philosophical commitment to bringing one of the natures most unique gifts to our customers in its uncompromised state, we have adopted a special low-temperature preparation technique. In carefully managing the extraction of the honey from the combs and its cleaning we are able to preserve both the floral essences and the innate vitality of our honey resulting in an aromatic and naturally organic food.
Because we use such low temperatures in the production we do not inhibit the honeys natural tendency to crystalise, so to make the final product easy to use we encourage the honey to set with an ultra-fine crystal structure. This imparts to its a buttery and spreadable texture at room temperature. Also easy enough to spoon in and mix in whatever beverage you wish, from a ‘hot toddy’ to a honey lemon tea. Other commercial brands of honey use high temperatures to delay the crystallising process, but this heat destroys the delicate flora essences, changes the flavour and generally compromises the other qualities and potential benefits of honey.
Our Leatherwood is naturally organic by virtue of the fact of where it is produced. Consider for a moment the following images of this place: Ancient rainforests located on the global at latitude 42 degrees south is shared only by southernmost New Zealand and Tierra del Fuego. At this latitude, the circumpolar winds whip up a constant westerly wind known as the Roaring Forties. These winds bring with them heavy moisture laden air drawn off the Great Southern Ocean only to deposit much of it as rain on the western side of Tasmania at the same time watering the rainforest where the Leatherwood trees grow and produce its golden harvest. We think of the Leatherwood honey as the ‘distillate’ of this magic place’.