What are the differences between Tea Tree and Mānuka Oil?

Intro

Manuka Oil and Tea Tree Oil often get mistaken for being similar, but they are in fact very different. Tea Tree Oil is a household name for many people.

Manuka Oil is a relatively new industry and is concentrated in New Zealand, where leptospermum scoparium, a unique variety of myrtle grows. It has a rich history of varied uses by the Maori people and settlers of the country. 

What are the differences between manuka oil and tea tree oil?

Manuka oil (Leptospermum scoparium) is rich in triketones, flavonoids and other compounds which give it strong antibacterial and antifungal properties. 

Tea Tree Oil also has these properties but at a lesser strength. It is also high in monoterpenes, which gives Tea Tree Oil its strong odour. 

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Manuka oil has less of an odour being high in sesquiterpenes which are less volatile. 

Where do both plants grow?

Manuka (Leptospermum Scoparium) is indigenous to New Zealand. It is found across the country, as it is a sturdy plant that can grow in a wide variety of conditions, from alpine to coastal and from groves to cliff-faces. 

Tea Tree (Melaleuca Alternifolia) refers to the myrtle family, of which there are some 44 species.

Most common varieties are endemic to Australia.

The Tea Tree Oil Industry has been around since WW2 and is largely based in Australia. 

Are there key health distinctions between both oils?

There are. When tested by the Cawthron Institute of Nelson and the Microbiology Department of Otago University, manuka oil was found to be significantly more effective against negative bacteria and viruses and strains of fungi.

Is the extraction process to get the oil from both plants similar?

Yes and the extraction process to get the oil from the Manuka Plant is distillation. We have built our own distillery on Aotea. This vaporises the oil in the leaf sacs, which then condenses in a condenser and is separated from the rest of the plant matter before being bottled.

The steam distillation process was introduced by Europeans only in the last 30 years. The steam distillation process uses only low temperatures to create the conditions that won’t destroy potent enzymes during extraction.

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