True Cinnamon versus Cassia Cinnamon

Bunch of Ceylon cinnamon

True Cinnamon

Cinnamon … Why we use ‘True’ Cinnamon in our Yogita Masala Chai not ‘Cassia’ Cinnamon?

1) True Cinnamon has better medicinal qualities than Cassia.

2) True Cinnamon has a sweeter flavour and more enjoyable aroma.

3) Coumarin levels in True Cinnamon are very small, whilst Cassia Cinnamon has 1200 times more ‘Coumarin’ in it.

Note: Coumarin is a toxicity risk for many of us; so not so good for you when consumed regularly! Including higher risk of liver damage and increased allergic reactions.

If you only drink a Masala Chai occasionally or rarely eat foods with cinnamon, then this is not a big issue, but if you love your cinnamon then it is worth consideration.

First let’s try and clear up the confusion around the many names for Cinnamon and their key differences:

True Cinnamon is also known as Real Cinnamon, Ceylon (or Sri Lanka) Cinnamon or just Cinnamon.

Botanical name: Cinnamomum zeylanicum or Cinnamomum verum (true)

Cassia Cinnamon’s are also known as just Cinnamon but adding to the identity issues is that Cassia’s Botanical names/species and known names include:

Cinnamomum burmannii

Indonesian Cinnamon

Indonesian Cassia

Java Cinnamon

Cinnamomum cassia

Chinese Cinnamon

Cinnamomum aromaticum

Chinese Cassia

Cinnamomum loureiroi

Vietnamese Cinnamon

Vietnamese Cassia

Saigon Cinnamon

Saigon Cassia

Hence the confusion; all the above are referred to as Cinnamon!

All of the above are cinnamons and are just a few of the main cultivated species 2000+ cinnamon which belong to the Lauraceae plant family and it is very difficult to tell the difference between cinnamons once they are processed.  According to recent USA trade data over 90% of all cinnamon imported there recently was the Cinnamomum burmannii (Cassia) variety; so there is a good chance most people in the West are normally consuming Cassia.

How can you tell the difference?

When reviewing product labels, see if they have fully identified the Cinnamon they are using.

E.g. Have they just stated ‘Cinnamon’ or included the words ‘True Cinnamon’ on the label? Most producers choosing to use True Cinnamon will go to this effort as it is costing us between 2 to 10 times more to buy wholesale than Cassia.

When trying to break or grind cinnamon quills, you will find that True Cinnamon can be easily broken by hand, whilst Cassia quills can at times be challenging and tough to break the thicker bark.

When the cinnamon quills have been ground to powder the True Cinnamon will be a light tan colour while the Cassia will be a reddish brown.

Also have a look at the photos below and you can clearly see difference in the Cinnamon Quills.

Note on the first picture the smooth, almost fine thin paper layers of the True Cinnamon Quill, compared to the thick singular curled Cassia Quills.

True Cinnamon

True Cinnamon

Cassia Cinnamon

Cassia Cinnamon

The link below is one of many articles I reviewed on this topic to put this blog together, but there are many more on the web with appropriate scientific references, just Google the Title of this blog if you are really keen to know more 🙂