Full of sweet and stimulating essential oils, cinnamon is a long-time favourite for invigorating and warming the whole body, while generally making life more delicious. Cinnamon’s sweet spiciness comes from a combination of potent compounds including cinnamaldehyde and coumarin which gives this herb its distinctive flavour. Pukka teams cinnamon with star anise and ginger to create a warming, deeply spiced tea.
Soothing and nourishing
In traditional medicines, cinnamon is thought to benefit a cold and sluggish digestion, metabolism and circulation. In Ayurveda, India’s ancient health system, the bark of the tree is used as a major digestive herb. It is wonderfully warming, sweet and pungent. Additionally, cinnamon appears to strengthen nutritional absorption as well as playing an important role in balancing blood sugar and reducing insulin resistance.
Until the 16th century the origins of cinnamon were a fiercely guarded secret; global trade was controlled by wealthy Arabs who protected their monopoly and justified exorbitant prices by fabricating extraordinary tales, including how cinnamon was only found in giant birds’ nests perched on insurmountable mountain peaks, or in deep canyons guarded by flying snakes! To produce the traditional spice we see today, the bark is harvested and then either powdered or rolled into characteristic quills. The making of cinnamon quills is a traditional art in some countries.
Turn to page 23 of December's The Simple Things for this month's Pukkapedia and more on spices.