Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) is a prolific scrub-type tree native to New Zealand and Australia. It is typically a shrub growing to 2–5 m (7–16 ft) tall, but can grow into a moderately sized tree, up to 15 m (49 ft) or so in height. It is evergreen, with dense branching and small leaves 7–20 mm long and 2–6 mm broad, with a short spine tip. The flowers are white, occasionally pink, 8–15 mm (rarely up to 25 mm) in diameter, with five petals.
Manuka was used extensively by the Maori and later by the early European Settlers for its herbal remedy function, alone and in combination with other native plants.
Captain Cook gave Manuka the name of "tea tree" and wrote of it..."the leaves were used by many of us as a tea which has a very agreeable bitter taste and flavour." Early settlers also called it "tea tree" as they too made a drink of it.
Due to the relatively strong, distinctive flavour of Manuka leaves, care needs to be taken with the amount included in tea blends. It is particularly suited to blending with Black Teas and will complement Fruit Teas well, especially those with a more intense flavour profile.
It is currently added to our Breakfast Tea, Earl Grey with Lemongrass, Lemon & Honey, Summer Fruit and Spiced Apple and Rhubarb.