What is Cassia?
Cassia also known as the Cinnamomum Cassia is an aromatic bark, similar to cinnamon, but differing in strength and quality. Cassia bark is darker, thicker and coarser, and the corky outer bark is often left on. The outer surface is rough and grayish brown, the inside bark is smoother and reddish-brown. Cassia is less costly than cinnamon and is often sold ground as cinnamon. When buying as sticks, cinnamon rolls into a single quill while cassia is rolled from both sides toward the centre so that they end up resembling scrolls. The Cassia originates from China, Indonesia, and Viet Nam mainly.

How is Cassia Different than Cinnamon?
Cassia cinnamon varieties have a stronger, more intense and often hotter flavor than Ceylon cinnamon due to an increased percentage of cinnamaldehyde, up to 5-6% by weight.

In fall 2006, Coumarin has become much-discussed in Germany, as it was revealed that some cassia-flavoured cookies exceed the legal limit of coumarin and might prove dangerous to health. The limit is very low in German law, 2ppm irrespective of the type of food, which would equal about half a gram of cassia per kilogram if a maximum coumarin content is assumed. Cassia has a significant amount of the blood-thinning phytochemical coumarin which has led Germany to ban its importation.

According to the general standard for food addictives issued by the FAO and WHO Codex committee, the presence of substances of toxicological concern including coumarin in natural flavours, spices and condiments should not exceed the threshold limit. Moreover, coumarin in foods that are ready for consumption should not exceed 2 ppm.

Results of the Study conducted by ITI on the coumarin content of Ceylon cinnamon confirmed that Ceylon cinnamon contains the least amount of coumarin compared to cassia and it is within safe Limits recommended by FAO/WHO guidelines.

* Coumarin is found in several plants, including tonka beans, lavender, licorice, strawberries, apricots, cherries, cassia, and sweet clover. Coumarin has blood-thinning, anti-fungicidal and anti-tumor activities. Coumarin should not be taken while using anticoagulants. Coumarin increases the blood flow in the veins and decreases capillary permeability. Coumarin can be toxic when used at high doses for a long periodCoumarin seems to work as a pesticide in the plants that produce it. Coumarin is responsible for the sweet smell of new mown hay.

How to Identify Cassia vs. Cinnamon

American labeling laws do not require a distinction to be made between cassia and Ceylon cinnamon in the retail market. However the overwhelming majority of ground cinnamon found within the United States is a variety of cassia.
Cinnamon and cassia sticks, however, have obvious visual markers which make them easy to identify

  Cassia Cinnamon
  • Dark, reddish brown
  • double-scroll
  • Thick, hard and Coarse
  • Light tan golden in color.
  • Rolled like a cigar/ Stuffed
  • Thin and brittle