The ancient spice, cinnamomum cassia, comes from the inner bark of a tropical, evergreen species of the Laurel family. It is native to India and Sri Lanka and different to cassia or Chinese cinnamon.
The familiar cinnamon quills are prepared from bark, stripped from the tree’s shoots. The outer bark is stripped away, leaving the inner bark to dry out and curl.
In ancient Egypt, the demand for cinnamon and black pepper helped to begin the ancient spice trade, and thus, greater exploration of the world. By the first century A.D., cinnamon was being transported 4500 miles across the sea from Malaysia and Indonesia to the Red Sea. It was highly valued by many and used as a perfume, medicine, preservative and flavouring spice. Many myths surrounded its origin at that time, to protect its source and the great wealth its trade generated.
Cinnamon quills, according to legends, were used to make the nest of the mythical phoenix. The birds carried them to high mountain precipices and as the quills fell to the ground, they were collected and sold.
Today, cinnamon is used as flavouring for foods, including pickles, cakes, sweets, cola-type soft drinks, ice cream and liqueurs. It has also found its way into oral hygiene products and cosmetics.
Cinnamon has a fragrant, spicy, intensely warming and slightly sweet flavour. It is loved in mulled wine, puddings, pastries and curries. A good cleansing herb, it also has powerful antiseptic properties. Its sensual aroma has been proven to have an aphrodisiac effect when used in baked cinnamon rolls!
Finely grinding the quills gives us the rich cinnamon powder.
Essential oils are distilled from the leaves and bark of the cinnamon tree. We use cinnamon leaf essential oil in fragrances to warm the body and soothe the senses. Its stimulating effect tightens the skin and increases the circulation. It is excellent for exhaustion as its warming scent relaxes the body and lifts the spirit. Cinnamon bark essential oil has a deeper, richer note than cinnamon Leaf. It is used very sparingly, as it is much more powerful.
Essential oils from cinnamon have very powerful antiseptic and antimicrobial effects. Cinnamon leaf essential oil can be used in products to help protect them from bacterial growth when no synthetic preservative is present. This antiseptic effect is very effective for the skin of the feet; the action controls bacteria on the skin, the breakdown of which causes odour.
We use the warming cinnamon powder in the Hot Java ballistic from our Retro range.
We have alluded to the nesting habits of the mythical bird by using cinnamon powder in our Phoenix Bubble Bar.