You’ve probably heard of New Zealand’s Manuka honey. Since researchers discovered it’s unique medicinal properties (and since celebrities like Scarlett Johansson and Novak Djokovic started using it) its popularity has soared.
In Australia there is a honey that is lesser known, but just as potent, and local beekeeper Garry Rodgers – who sells his honey via the Honey Wagon stall at the New Brighton Farmers Market – says he’s just harvested his best batch yet.
It’s called Active Jellybush, and like Manuka it’s produced by bees feeding on the Leptospermum bush, which is found on our coast. For reasons researchers are still trying to uncover, these bees produce honey with extremely high antimicrobial levels.
“You can use it orally – you only need a good teaspoon a day for your gut health and digestion, keeping colds away and general bugs,” said Garry.
“The other application is topically – you can use it for wounds, cuts and burns, ulcers. It kills germs really really quickly, scarring is a lot less, bandages don’t adhere to the scab, and it actually heals diabetic leg ulcers.”
As part of an ongoing study by Dr Peter Brooks at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Garry routinely sends samples of his Jellybush honey for testing, and has learnt that his latest batch rated at 22+ (anything over 10 is considered medical grade.)
He says the reasons for the leap in the honey’s activity are still unknown: “That’s what we’re trying to determine.”
Garry says until ten or so years ago, Australian beekeepers would avoid putting their bees near the Leptospermum, because it produced a thick, jelly like honey that was hard to extract, but it’s now considered liquid gold.
To top it all off, it has a delicious flavour, described as a lot like paperbark honey but with a strong malt taste.
“It’s the Rolls Royce of tastes,” said Garry, “It’s just got this little tang in it.”
•Words and pics by Kate O’Neill.