Cassia – Cinnamon
Cassia – The dried bark of the Cinnamomum cassia tree native to Southeast Asia, it is usually sold as cinnamon in the USA. In fact, this is such common practice that it is quite possible that most Americans have never tasted true cinnamon. It has a more pronounced flavour and aroma than true cinnamon, and the finest quality is grown in Vietnam. Sticks (aka quills) of dried bark are widely available, and since they are difficult to grind, a powdered form is available almost everywhere. The sticks will retain their flavour for over two years if stored in an airtight container, while the ground version will lose its potency in just a few months, so it is best to buy it in small quantities. It is used almost exclusively in sweets and baked goods in the West, but it can be found in almost any type of dish elsewhere. It is one of the essential ingredients in Chinese five-spice powder and in many traditional spice blends of India and the Middle East.