Cassia (Cinnamomum aromaticum) is an evergreen tree native to southern China, Bangladesh, India, and Vietnam. It is used primarily for its aromatic bark, which is a spice. In India, the bud is also used as a spice.
The cassia cinnamon tree grows to 10-15 m tall, has grayish bark and hard, dark green, elongated leaves that are 10-15 cm long, which are reddish when young. Cassia cinnamon
's flavor is less delicate than that of true cinnamon (C. verum
, C. zeylanicum
); for this reason, the less expensive cassia is sometimes called "bastard cinnamon".
Unlike the small shoots used in the production of cinnamon, the whole branches and small cassia trees are harvested for the aromatic bark, this gives cassia bark a much thicker and rougher texture than that of true cinnamon.
In the United States and Canada, most of the spice sold as cinnamon is actually cassia. In order to distinguish it from the true cinnamon, cassia is labeled as 'Chinese cinnamon'. Cassia (C. aromaticum
) is produced in both China and Vietnam. Cassia bark (both powdered and in whole, or "stick" form) is used as a flavoring agent for confectionery, desserts, pastries, and meat.
Cassia buds are occasionally used as a spice in India. The buds resemble cloves in appearance and have a mild, flowery cinnamon flavor, and are primarily used in old-fashioned pickling recipes, marinades, and teas.
Cassia is used in traditional Chinese medicine, and is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs. Due to a toxic component called coumarin, European health agencies have warned against consuming high amounts of cassia.
Author: H. Zell
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