Cinnamon is native to the tropical highlands of Sri Lanka, southern India, southeast Asia, and the West Indies. It is harvested from the dried bark of trees of the genus Cinnamomum, a type of evergreen tree. Cinnamon is sold in markets around the globe as whole sticks, ground spice or as an extract.
History and Folklore
The ancient spice trade introduced cinnamon to Arabia and North Africa as early as 2000 BC. The Egyptians were among the first to import cinnamon to their land, and used it in embalming rituals and religious ceremonies. Cinnamon was considered a rare and valuable spice at this time, and considered to be a gift that was worthy of the gods. In the Roman Empire, cinnamon was used to create perfumes and to flavor wines, and it was imported in massive quantities. The Romans also used it as sacred funeral incense.
For centuries, the exact origin of cinnamon was kept secret from European civilizations. Spice traders used this to their advantage, and cinnamon came to be seen as a luxury with many uses, including cooking, healing, and other practical purposes. Only the upper crust of European society was able to afford cinnamon, and it was used to flavor the food and drinks of the elite throughout the Middle Ages.
By the end of the 15th century, Portuguese merchants traced the cinnamon trade route back to its origin, on the island of Ceylon, or modern-day Sri Lanka. For a few centuries, Portugal ruled the cinnamon trade, until they were displaced by the Dutch in the mid-1600’s. Towards the end of the 18th century, the English arrived in Ceylon and overthrew the Dutch traders, taking control of the cinnamon market.
England expanded the production and sale of cinnamon, which allowed it to reach a wider demographic. Over the course of the next several decades, it became a staple in homes and kitchens around the world. Today, it is commonly used to flavor baked goods, coffees, teas and other cuisine.
Use in Cuisine
Cinnamon has a warm, rich, woody flavor and has been used to add flavor to food and drinks across the globe for thousands of years. In many cultures, it is used in desserts and baked goods such as cakes, sticky buns, bread rolls, and cookies. In Mexico, it is often added to chocolate and coffee. Middle Eastern and North African nations frequently use cinnamon to add warmth and flavor to savory dishes, like stews and chilies.
The spice is often blended with a variety of other herbs, fruits, and flavors to create soothing tea blends. Popular cinnamon teas include:
- Cardamon Cinnamon Herbal Tea
- Biodynamic Turmeric Cinnamon Herbal Tea
- Organic Lean Green SuperGreen Tea
- Cinnamon Plum Black Tea
- Dream by the Fire Red Tea
Cinnamon is thought to have antimicrobial and antifungal properties, which can fight against illnesses and infections. The spice is also rich in powerful antioxidants, which can protect the body against free radicals, fight chronic diseases, and reduce the effects of aging. Sipping a warm cup of cinnamon tea can aid in muscle relaxation, increase blood flow and circulation, and sooth achiness caused by inflammation or illness.*
* This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.