Real Cinnamon sticks come from the island of Sri Lanka. It is commonly known as Ceylon Cinnamon. The name Ceylon was the old name for Sri Lanka, given to it by the British who were their colonial masters. Also known by it's scientific names Cinnamomum Zeylanicum or Cinnamomum Verum, Ceylon Cinnamon sticks are native to Sri Lanka and still the only place where 90% of it is grown. This is because of particular soil and climate conditions which is extremely unique. Even in Sri Lankan Cinnamon is mostly grown in a particular area along the south coast. For this reason it is also known as True Cinnamon sticks.
LOW COUMARIN LEVELS
What is unusual about Ceylon Cinnamon is that it has ultra low levels of Coumarin, a chemical ingredient known to cause liver failure if taken regularly that exceed daily limits. Ordinary Cassia Cinnamon by contrast has high levels of Coumarin.
SOFT AND BRITTLE
The Cinnamon sticks you get in the United States is the cheaper Cassia Cinnamon variety which is very hard and difficult to break. The US also imports other varieties of Cinnamon such as Saigon Cinnamon and Korintje Cinnamon.
Ceylon Cinnamon sticks tend be very soft and brittle. It's rolled like a cigar and will easily flake in your hands into small pieces, bringing an aroma and flavor into any recipe with panache and flair. It has a sweeter more sophisticated taste with hints of Citrus.
FIRST CHOICE FOR DESSERTS
While cassia Cinnamon is used heavily in the US because it is very cheap, it is Ceylon Cinnamon that would be better choice because it is sweeter. It tends to be very subtle which is why the French love to use it in their renown pastries.
USE FOR SAVORY CURRIES & VEGETABLE DISHES
In Asia Ceylon Cinnamon sticks are mostly used in curries especially savory dishes. It creates a cornucopia of exotic dishes full of flavor when blended with other spices. This culinary sophistication is only possible with Ceylon Cinnamon while Cassia Cinnamon will leave a bitter after taste.
Ceylon Cinnamon sticks or Real Cinnamon sticks are also used as a flavoring for rice, making very good mulled wine, orange desserts and recipes where the Cinnamon should not take center stage but instead creates a very sophisticated taste profile.