Difference between Cinnamon and Cassia

Key Difference: Cinnamon or true cinnamon refers to the Ceylon cinnamon which is derived from the plant Cinnamomum zeylanicum. Cassia refers to another species of cinnamon which is derived from the cassia bark tree. Both differ in many aspects like flavor, pricing, coumarin content, etc.

The term cinnamon generally refers to real or true cinnamon which is native to sir Lanka.  It is derived from a small evergreen tree (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) as its inner bark. It is known for its mild and delicate flavor. The sticks of this cinnamon consist of multiple layers which form a structure similar to a filled tube.

On the other hand cassia is different from true cinnamon. It is a type of cinnamon that originates from China primarily or elsewhere on South East Asia.  It was initially produced from C. cassia. It is quite different from the real cinnamon in many contexts. They have a stronger and intense flavor than true cinnamon. This is due to the higher content of cinnamaldehyde.

One can easily distinguish cinnamon and cassia sticks by looking at them. Cassia is dark reddish brown in color whereas true cinnamon is of lighter tone than cassia. Cassia sticks are in the form of double scrolls whereas Ceylon cinnamons have a layered tube structure. Ceylon cinnamon tends to be thinner and brittle than cassia.

True cinnamon is often added for its sweetness, whereas cassia is added for its peppery flavor.  Cassia’s surface is quiet rough, where real Ceylon cinnamon’s bark tends to be smoother than that of cassia. Coumarin content in cassia is higher than in true cinnamon. This is a chemical compound which is moderately toxic to liver and kidneys. Therefore, Ceylon cinnamons are considered to be safer than cassia.

Powdered cassia and cinnamon look quite the same, and therefore one may find difficulty to differentiate between the two. However, when a tincher of iodine is added then pure cinnamon remains unaffected and cassia produces a deep blue tint.

Comparison between cinnamon and cassia:

 

Cinnamon

Cassia

Definition

Cinnamon or true cinnamon refers to the Ceylon cinnoamon which is derived from the plant Cinnamomum zeylanicum.

Cassia refers to another species of cinnamon which is derived from the cassia bark tree. Both differ in many aspects like flavor, pricing, coumarin content, etc.

Color of the sticks

Lighter tone than cassia

Dark, reddish brown

Structure of sticks

Layered structure (rolled like a cigar)

Double sided roll with a hollow structure inside

Thickness

It is thinner than cassia

It is thicker then cinnamon

Brittleness

High

Low

Flavor

Mild

Intense

Cultivation

India, Srilanka

China, Vietnam, Indonesia

Pricing

Expensive

Less expensive

Image Courtesy: nuts.com, theepicentre.com

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