Our UNIQUE New Zealand Manuka

We get a lot of questions about manuka oil and tea tree oil, are they the same, do they work together, is manuka oil made in Australia and are they both produced the same way.

 There are many differences, but a few are highlighted below

  • Tea tree oil is cleared to the ground for harvest where manuka oil is cut more like a hedge.
  • The distillation time for manuka oil is 5 hours rather than the two hours it takes for tea tree
  • Manuka oil is more effective against gram positive bacteria, and tea tree oil is more effective against gram negative bacteria. 

The combination of the two oils creates an attractive, broad-spectrum antimicrobial formulation with numerous therapeutic, skincare and consumer applications.

 These include antiseptics for cuts, scrapes and wounds, acne and rosacea treatment, chemical-free mouthwash, natural deodorants, hair and beard care, dandruff treatment, skin, surface sanitisers and much more.


East Cape Mānuka oil with high levels of triketones, has been shown to be effective against the following bacteria, fungi, and yeasts:

Gram positive bacteria

Staphylococcus aureus, MRSA (Superbug), Staphylococcus epidermidis, Staphylococcus capitis, Enterococcus faecium, Bacillus subtilis, Streptococcus pyogenes, Corynebacterium diphtheriae, Cutibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus hominis

Gram negative bacteria

Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Proteus vulgaris


Aspergillus Niger, Penicillium notatum, Trichophyton rubrum, Trichophyton mentagrophytes


Candida albicans


More details here in a great article from Dr Suki Harding (East Coast Biologicals)


Mānuka Oil & Tea Tree Oil - An Ideal Partnership

1. Introduction

“Tea tree” is a generic term that is sometimes used to describe both mānuka trees that grow in New Zealand and tea trees that grow in Australia.

Both trees belong to the same myrtle or Myrtaceae family, which has 3,300 different species that include pōhutukawa, eucalyptus, guava, feijoa, rose apple, Surinam cherry, jaboticaba, bay rum, clove and allspice. All myrtle species are woody with evergreen leaves that contain tiny sacs filled with essential oils. The flowers have a base number of five petals, though some are minute or absent. The stamens are usually prominent, brightly coloured and numerous.

Mānuka oil is steam distilled from the leaves of mānuka trees (scientific name: Leptospermum scoparium). Mānuka trees grow all over New Zealand and is particularly common on the drier east coasts of the North and South Islands. It also grows in parts of Australia such as Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales.

Tea tree oil is steam distilled from the leaves of tea trees (scientific name: Melaleuca alternifolia). Endemic to Australia, tea trees grow in Queensland and New South Wales, where it is often the dominant species along streams and swampy flats.

2. Traditional Uses

Both mānuka and tea tree leaves contain essentials oils that have powerful antimicrobial, antiinflammatory and wound healing properties.

Maori people of New Zealand have used all parts of the mānuka tree for a wide variety of medicinal purposes for centuries. These traditional uses include the treatment of burns, scalds, cuts, wounds, insect bites, skin and oral infections, pain and inflammation, dandruff, urinary complaints, fever, dysentery and more. Mānuka oil is a relatively new biproduct from the tree. Essential oil in mānuka leaves was first characterised during the 1970s, and it has been produced commercially since the 1980s (Cambie, 1976).

Parts of the tea tree has been used by the Aboriginal people of Australia as a traditional treatment for centuries. Oil from crushed tea tree leaves or infusions were used to treat cuts, burns, wounds, insect bites, skin infections, sore throats, coughs and colds. Tea tree oil was rediscovered in the 1920s as a topical antiseptic that is more effective than phenol (Budhiraja et al., 1999). 

3. Chemical Differences

The composition of an essential oil depends on its chemical identity or chemotype. Essential oils are rich in terpene compounds that give these oils their characteristic health benefits and aroma. Mānuka oil has a warm, slightly spicy and floral fragrance attributable to the predominant sesquiterpene fraction, whereas tea tree oil is more camphor-like and herbaceous because of the monoterpene terpinen-4-ol.

There are at least 11 chemotypes of New Zealand mānuka (Douglas et. al., 2004). Triketone levels in New Zealand mānuka oil differ in different parts of the country. One chemotype of mānuka oil is globally unique and stands heads and shoulders above all others: the high triketone chemotype that come from mānuka trees that grow only in the East Cape region of New Zealand.

Naturally occurring b-triketone compounds flavesone, leptospermone, iso-leptospermone and grandiflorone are responsible for East Cape mānuka oil’s outstanding broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties (the ability to stop the growth and kill bacteria, viruses and fungi). 

East Cape mānuka oil contains over 20% b-triketones, and often as high as 33%. East Cape mānuka oil also has sesquiterpenes such as calamenene, b-caryophyllene and cadinene that have powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiaging properties (Matthew et al., 2020).

Mānuka trees that grows in the Marlborough Sounds region of New Zealand also has relative high levels of b-triketones, between 15 to 20%. Mānuka trees that grow in other parts of New Zealand produce essential oil with less than 5% b-triketones. In contrast, mānuka oil originating from trees that grow in Australia has no b-triketones (Brophy et al., 1999).

Tea Tree Oil Tea tree has six main chemotypes (Padovan et al., 2017) . Three are dominated by terpinen 4-ol, terpinolene and 1,8-cineole and the remainder have varying amounts of these key constituents. Of these, the terpinen-4-ol chemotype produces a medicinally valuable essential oil that has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. As such, tea tree breeding programmes have focused on optimising terpinen-4-ol content in the leaves to 30-40%, while reducing the 1,8-cineole and d-limonene concentrations.

4. Synergies Between Mānuka Oil and Tea Tree Oil

Mānuka essential oil and tea tree essential oil are both recognised for their powerful antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties. Combining these two oils provide an attractive, highly synergistic blend with the following properties. Depending on the application, an ideal mānuka oil-tea tree oil formulation may contain up to 2% tea tree oil and up to 2% mānuka oil.

(a) Enhanced antimicrobial activity

Given its high b-triketone content, East Cape mānuka oil has stronger activity against gram positive bacteria than Australian tea tree oil (Christoph et al., 2000). Common gram positive bacteria include Staphylococcus aureus (staph), Streptococcus pyogenes (strep) MRSA (antibiotic resistant staph), Staphylococcus epidermidis, Enterococcus faecium and Corynebacterium diphtheriae that causes skin and wound infections, and Cutibacterium acnes that causes acne. East Cape mānuka oil is around 30 times more powerful than tea tree oil against these bacteria.

Tea tree oil has generally stronger activity against gram negative bacteria such as Proteus vulgaris and Escherichia coli that can cause serious burn, wound and hospital infections. Mānuka oil also demonstrates strong efficacy against gram negative bacteria that cause oral infections and periodontal disease such as A. actinomycetemcomitans, P. gingivalis and F. nucleatum (Matthew, C. et al., 2020).

Mānuka oil also shows stronger activity than tea tree oil against fungi such as Trichophyton rubrum that causes athlete’s foot, nail fungus, jock itch and ring worm. • Tea tree oil on the other hand shows stronger efficacy against Candida albicans that causes yeast infections such as thrush and nappy rash (Christoph et al., 2000).

Both essential oils have powerful antiviral properties, however, mānuka oil is considerably more powerful than tea tree oil against HSV1 and HSV2 viruses that cause cold sores and genital herpes. (Reichling et al., 2009).

Tea tree oil is more powerful than mānuka oil against moulds Aspergillus niger and Penicillium notatum that cause mould on fresh produce (Christoph et al., 2000).

Given these properties, the combination of the two oils creates an attractive, broad spectrum antimicrobial formulation with numerous therapeutic, skincare and consumer applications. These include antiseptics for cuts, scrapes and wounds, acne and rosacea treatment, chemical-free mouthwash, natural deodorants, hair and beard care, dandruff treatment, skin, fresh produce and surface sanitisers and much more. 

The mānuka oil-tea tree oil combination is also ideal for the treatment of skin infections caused by antibiotic resistant pathogens such as MRSA and Vancomycin resistant Enterococcus species (William et al. (1998). It is therefore an important solution in the global fight against antimicrobial resistance. 

(b) An Excellent Remedy for Maskne

Maskne occurs as a result of the friction between masks and facial skin, and the accumulation of moist and warm air within the mask leading to an imbalance in the skin microflora, particularly S. aureus, C. acnes and C. albicans (Spigariolo et al., 2022). It has been estimated that over 50% of people, including children, who wear masks for long periods of time suffer from symptoms of maskne that include acne breakouts, facial eczema and itchy skin. •

The combination of East Cape mānuka oil and tea tree oil is a complete treatment for maskne, killing bacteria and fungi associated with this condition, reducing inflammation, healing wounds and calming the skin.

(c) Anti-inflammatory Skin Disease 

Inflammation in the body is characterised by redness, swelling, heat and pain. Inflammation is our immune system’s normal response to infection and injury. Inflammation protects us from infections caused by microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi, and accelerates healing from injuries such as cuts, wounds, and sprains. 

There are times when the body mounts an inflammatory response even when no invader or injury is present. For example, the immune systems of patients suffering from eczema and psoriasis can get stuck in the “ON” position, causing chronic inflammation, dry skin, discomfort, psychological issues and reduced quality of life.

Skin inflammation also causes premature skin aging and weakened skin structure stemming from collagen and elastin degradation and skin barrier function impairment.

Given their sesquiterpene content, both mānuka oil and tea tree oil have proven anti inflammatory and antiaging properties (Kwon et al., 2013; Koh et al., 2002). Mānuka oil also promotes collagen production in skin cells, and has powerful antioxidant properties. For these reasons, the combination of the two oils is ideal for use in skin health products targeting inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis and effects of natural aging such as lines, wrinkles and loss of skin integrity.

(d) Aromatherapy

The combination of mānuka and tea tree essential oils have exciting applications in the aromatherapy space. Much research has been undertaken to create an optimal mix of essential oils for hygienic and therapeutic massage products, both from the perspective of the client and the massage therapist (Tisserand, 2012).

It has been reported that mixtures of tea tree, lavender and eucalyptus oils was effective as an antibacterial only when used at 10% or more in a lotion base, whereas a dilution of around 3% is preferred. 

Given that both essential oils have strong antimicrobial properties, mānuka oil has a pleasant aroma compared to tea tree oil and is less irritating on the skin than tea tree oil, the combination of the two oils is a high efficacy mix for use in hygienic and therapeutic massage products.

A major advantage offered by mānuka oil to any topical formulation is its chemical stability and lack of oxidation over a very long period of time (in practice, more than five years). On the other hand, tea tree oil is prone to oxidation after about two years.

(e) Veterinary Applications

Many antimicrobial products for pets and farm animals contain tea tree oil. Low concentrations of tea tree oil (0.1-1%) are well tolerated by animals, but high dosages can be highly toxic if absorbed through the skin or ingested.

Staphylococcus pseudintermedius is a common pathogen that causes skin and ear infections in dogs and cats. The widespread and rapid emergence of antibiotic resistant S. pseudintermedius (MRSP) has created therapeutic challenges in veterinary medicine and the need for alternative treatments. Mānuka oil is highly effective against both antibiotic sensitive and antibiotic resistant S. pseudintermedius (Song et al.,2013).

Malassezia pachydermatis is a commensal fungus that causes skin and ear infections in animals, particularly in dogs. Mānuka oil is highly effective and tea tree oil is somewhat effective against this pathogen (Bismark et al. (2020).

Mānuka oil is non-toxic and gentle on the skin of both humans and animals. Combining mānuka and tea tree essential oils is an excellent way of increasing antibacterial and antifungal efficacy of veterinary formulations. 



5. References

Bismarck, D. et al., (2020) Antifungal in vitro Activity of Essential Oils against Clinical Isolates of Malassezia pachydermatis from Canine Ears: A Report from a Practice Laboratory. Complementary Medicine Research, 27, 143-154. Brophy L. J. et al., (1999) Leaf essential oils of the genus Leptospermum (Myrtaceae) in Eastern Australia. Part 5. Leptospermum continentale and allies, Flavour and Fragrance Journal 14: 98-104 Budhiraja S.S. et al. (1999), Biological activity of Melaleuca alternifola (Tea Tree) oil component, terpinen-4-ol, in human myelocytic cell line HL-60. Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics, September 1999, 22(7):447-53. Cambie, R. C. (1976), A New Zealand phytochemical register Part III. Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand 6(3), 307-379 Christoph, F. et al. (2000), A Comparative Study of the in vitro Antimicrobial Activity of Tea Tree Oils with Special Reference to the Activity of b-Triketones, Planta Medica, September 2000, 66, 556-60 Douglas, M. et. al. (2004), Essential oils from New Zealand mānuka: triketone and other chemotypes of Leptospermum scoparium, Phytochemistry, May 2004, 65 (9), 1255-1264 Koh, K.J. et al. (2002), Tea tree oil reduces histamine-induced skin inflammation. British Journal of Dermatology, December 2002, 147(6),1212-7 Kwon et. al., (2013) Topical Administration of Manuka Oil Prevents UV-B Irradiation-Induced Cutaneous Photoaging in Mice, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, Article ID 930857 Matthew, C. et al., (2020) Mānuka Oil - A Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties, Pharmaceuticals 2020, 13, 343, published online 26 October 2020. Padovan, A. et al. (2017) Four terpene synthases contribute to the generation of chemotypes in tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), BMC Plant Biology, 17, 4 October 2017, Article Number 160. S. Harding, 12 May 202


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