Ceylon Cinnamon vs. Cassia

Cinnamon is a spice that belongs to the Lauraceae family, which consists of shrub or tree spices with aromatic leaves. It is obtained from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum tree by drying the strips of the inner bark until they curl into rolls which are then identified as cinnamon sticks or quills.

Ceylon cinnamon also known as “true cinnamon” is a well-sought-after spice in the world, It is native to Sri Lanka and southern India. Its color is tan-brown and contains a high amount of quality and texture. It takes 3-4 years for the production of Ceylon cinnamon after planting.

Cassia cinnamon is produced from the Cinnamomum cassia tree. It originated in Southern China but now it is also widely produced across Eastern and Southern Asia. Cassia cinnamon is dark brown and reddish in color with comparatively thicker sticks and rough in texture. It is considered a low-quality type of cinnamon and is very cheap in price and commonly consumed across the globe. Cassia has long been used in cooking and Chinese traditional medicine.

So, what’s the difference between Cassia and Ceylon Cinnamon

  • Cassia cinnamon is rolled to the center to make a scroll-like appearance that has a thickness of approximately 1.5mm and when dried it forms a double curl with a little amount of a straight bark. Ceylon cinnamon is rolled into quills that are approximately 0.08 mm thick and it has a single spiral curl which is filled with individual short pieces of bark.
  • Cassia consists of a strong spicey-sweet flavor and aroma which is extremely bitter comparatively with a burning aftertaste. True cinnamon tastes comparatively less bitter with a sweet aftertaste. It also has an aromatic smell.
  • The oil produced by true cinnamon contains trans-cinnamaldehyde (used in perfumes), eugenol (used in food flavoring and herbal oils), and linalool (used in medication such for depression, anxiety, and stress). While the oils of Cassia cinnamon contain cinnamaldehyde, cinnamon acid, cinnamyl oil, and coumarin. Coumarin is an aromatic chemical compound that consists of hepatotoxic and carcinogen properties which causes illnesses in human beings.
  • Tau is a type of protein that builds up in the brain. Using an excessive amount of Cassia can lead to Alzheimer’s disease as it blocks the formation of Tau in the brain. This can also lead to liver damage, risk of cancer, allergic skin reactions, and breathing problems. Ceylon cinnamon can be considered a healthier choice as it has less potential to cause harm when consumed regularly

Ceylon cinnamon and Cassia cinnamon

The differences between Cassia and Ceylon Cinnamon are summarized below:

 Cassia CinnamonCeylon Cinnamon
ColorDark-brown, RedTan-brown
Thickness of sticksComparatively thicker (Difficult to break)Comparatively thinner (easy to break)
Flavor and aromaStrong spicey-sweet flavor with bitter aromaLess bitter sweet flavor with a subtle citrus aroma
Cinnamaldehyde contentHigher contentLower content
Coumarin ContentContains high levelsContains low levels
Commonly used inCooking, baking, and food processing Beverages like tea, health and wellness applications

Joe Leech. (2023). Ceylon vs. Cassia — Not All Cinnamon Is Created Equal. Healthline.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CASSIA AND TRUE CEYLON CINNAMON. (2021, August 5). Sri Lanka Export Development Board.

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