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Ceylon Cinnamon sticks are soft, crumbly, and rolled like cigars, with layers of soft, brittle cinnamon bark. All other cinnamon sticks look like Cassia Cinnamon sticks and tend to be hard, hollow, and have only one rolled or curled layer. Notice the color difference: Ceylon Cinnamon is lighter in color, while other cinnamon tends to be darker in color.

We take a look at the four main types of cinnamon: Ceylon, Cassia, Saigon, and Korintje Cinnamon, and identify them by their color, taste, aroma, and appearance. While there are hundreds of types of cinnamon, only four types or varieties are used for commercial purposes.

Except for Ceylon Cinnamon, Cassia, Saigon, and Korintje Cinnamon are also classified under the Cassia Cinnamon category because they are very similar to each other, with only slight variations in color, taste, shape, and coumarin content.

All Cassia-type cinnamons are hard and have high levels of coumarin, a substance known to cause liver damage, while Ceylon Cinnamon is the only soft and brittle cinnamon with ultra-low coumarin levels."

Name Scientific Name
Ceylon Cinnamon
True Cinnamon
Mexican Cinnamon
Cinnamomum zeylanicum, Cinnamomum verum
Indonesian Cinnamon
Korintje Cinnamon, Padang Cassia
Cinnamomum burmanni
Saigon cinnamon, Vietnamese Cassia. Vietnamese Cinnamon Cinnamomum loureiroi
Cassia Cinnamon or Chinese Cinnamon Cinnamomum

Most of Europe used Ceylon Cinnamon primarily because it was the first spice brought back by European explorers (Portuguese, Dutch, and British) from their conquests of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) nearly 400 years ago. However, cheaper Cassia has made inroads and come to dominate the market


Coumarin is a substance that can cause liver damage or complete failure. Only Ceylon Cinnamon has low levels of Coumarin, while all other varieties of Cinnamon have high levels of Coumarin.

At one stage the German government banned Cassia type Cinnamon. But take a closer look at this university of Mississippi study which shows the high levels of Coumarin in all other types of Cinnamon, except Ceylon Cinnamon.

If you are taking Cinnamon for health reasons, then you must and should switch to Ceylon Cinnamon. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) established a tolerable daily intake (TDI) of 0.1 mg/kg body weight of Coumarin in Cinnamon. Read more about Coumarin in Cinnamon here.

Type of Cinnamon Coumarin Content
Ceylon Cinnamon, True Cinnamon, Mexican Cinnamon
0.017 g/kg
Indonesian Cinnamon, Korintje Cinnamon, Padang Cassia
2.15 g/kg
Saigon cinnamon, Vietnamese Cassia, Vietnamese Cinnamon
6.97 g/kg
Cassia Cinnamon or Chinese Cinnamon
0.31 g/kg




Around 70% of North America uses Cassia Cinnamon, with Indonesia being the chief supplier. This is because Cassia Cinnamon is much cheaper compared to Ceylon Cinnamon, which tends to be expensive due to the handcrafted process required for its harvesting and rolling into multiple thin layers. Cassia Cinnamon is characterized by its hard bark, spicy flavor, strong aroma, and sometimes bitter taste


The quality of Chinese cinnamon is not great. While it belongs to the Cassia Cinnamon family, it tends to be more pungent, less sweet, and slightly bitter, possibly due to soil conditions. The quality of cinnamon can vary depending on the soil conditions. Most Chinese cinnamon likely remains in China and is used in many Chinese medications for coughs, phlegm, and other illnesses.


Ceylon Cinnamon grows best in sandy soil. The tree typically reaches a height of about 49 feet in its natural state but is cut earlier for commercial purposes. It has a thin bark, and its leaves are shiny and leathery on the top surface, while the underside appears dull. The flowers of the tree are white, and the oval-sized fruit turns bluish with white spots when ripe. When the leaves are crushed, they release a spicy and hot taste, and peeling away the outer bark of the tree yields a very strong cinnamon aroma.

The biggest advantage of Ceylon Cinnamon (also known as Mexican Cinnamon) is ultra-low Coumarin levels. Coumarin in high doses causes liver failure, so for people who take Cinnamon on a daily basis, Ceylon Cinnamon is the preferred choice.


For fine desserts, Ceylon Cinnamon is an absolute must because of its subtle nature, mild aroma, and slightly sweeter taste. It never takes center stage in the recipe but adds a complex flavor. Although Ceylon Cinnamon has a mild aroma, when ground and added to baked goods or Cinnamon French toast, for example, it emits a sophisticated and fragrant aroma.

Most well-established recipes that call for Cinnamon originated from Europe or the Middle East and should use Ceylon Cinnamon. The same applies to any Mexican recipes that call for Cinnamon. This is because the taste profile of these desserts was designed with Ceylon Cinnamon in mind. Mexico is the biggest importer of Ceylon Cinnamon.

However, since the supply of Cassia Cinnamon in the US is overwhelming, most people have been using it instead. This results in desserts tasting very different. Even many Mexican desserts made in the US mistakenly substitute Cassia Cinnamon, which alters the original taste profile of the dessert. Due to its mild and sweet nature, Ceylon Cinnamon allows for the creation of sophisticated layers of flavors that are not achievable with the harsher Cassia Cinnamon.

(1) Cinnamomum
(2) Cinnamomum
Other names Other names
Ceylon Cinnamon, True Cinnamon,
Mexican Cinnamon
Cinnamomum Verum
Korintje Cinnamon, Padang Cassia, Indonesian cinnamon,
Origin Origin
Sri Lanka (90%), India, Madagascar, Brazil and the Caribbean
Tree Height Tree Height
32 - 49 ft. 22 ft.
Taste Taste
Mild Sweet Spicy
Color Color
Light to medium reddish brown Dark reddish brown
The Good The Good
Ultra Low Coumarin levels, Softer and subtle taste,
Spicy Cinnamon flavor
The Bad The Bad
Expensive, Cannot be used for Christmas decorations High Coumarin Levels

(3) Cinnamomum
(4) Cinnamomum aromaticum
Other names Other names
Saigon cinnamon, Vietnamese cassia. Vietnamese cinnamon Cassia Cinnamon or Chinese Cinnamon
Origin Origin
Vietnam China
Tree Height Tree Height
  32 - 49 ft.
Taste Taste
Spicy Sweet Spicy Bitter
Color Color
Dark reddish brown Dark reddish brown
The Good The Good
Strong spicy cinnamon
taste, high levels of oil content
The Bad The Bad
High Coumarin Levels High Coumarin Levels

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