What is the difference between cinnamon and Ceylon cinnamon?

Cinnamon is known for its warm, sweet flavour and aromatic scent. It has been used for centuries in culinary, medicinal, and cultural practices around the world. There are several varieties of cinnamon available, with two of the most notable types being cinnamon and Ceylon cinnamon. They appear similar at first glance, but there are some key differences, ranging from their taste and aroma to their source and usage.

Source and Availability:

Cinnamon: Cinnamon is derived from the bark of trees belonging to the Cinnamomum family, which are native to several countries, including Indonesia, China, and Vietnam. It is widely available and commonly used in various cuisines and products worldwide. The most common type of cinnamon found in most grocery stores is Cassia cinnamon, also known as Chinese cinnamon or Cinnamomum cassia.

Ceylon Cinnamon: Sri Lankan cinnamon, also known as Ceylon cinnamon or "true cinnamon," comes from the bark of trees belonging to the Cinnamomum verum plant, which is native to Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon). Sri Lanka has been historically known for producing high-quality cinnamon, and it is considered to be the finest and most sought-after type of cinnamon in the world. However, Sri Lankan cinnamon is relatively rare and more expensive compared to other types of cinnamon, as it is produced in limited quantities and requires specific growing conditions.

Flavour and Aroma:

Cinnamon: Cassia cinnamon, which is the most commonly available type of cinnamon, has a strong, sweet, and slightly bitter flavour with a robust aroma. It is often used in baking, cooking, and spice blends, and it adds warmth and depth to a wide range of dishes.

Ceylon Cinnamon: Ceylon cinnamon has a more delicate, subtle, and refined flavour compared to cassia cinnamon. It is slightly sweeter and has a citrusy, floral note, with a milder aroma. Sri Lankan cinnamon is particularly prized for its unique flavour profile, which makes it ideal for use in delicate desserts, beverages, and dishes where a milder cinnamon flavour is desired.

Coumarin Content:

Cinnamon: One of the significant differences between cinnamon and Sri Lankan cinnamon is their coumarin content. Coumarin is a naturally occurring compound found in cinnamon that is dangerous in large amounts and may cause liver damage or other health issues. Cassia cinnamon has a higher coumarin content compared to Sri Lankan cinnamon. Prolonged consumption of cassia cinnamon in large quantities may pose health risks, particularly for individuals with liver conditions or those consuming it regularly as a dietary supplement.

Ceylon Cinnamon: Sri Lankan cinnamon, on the other hand, has significantly lower coumarin content, making it a safer option for regular consumption. It is often preferred by health-conscious individuals or those who use cinnamon in large amounts on a regular basis, such as in herbal teas, supplements, or for medicinal purposes.


Cinnamon: Cassia cinnamon has a dark brown colour with a rough texture and a relatively thick bark. When rolled up, it forms tight, dense quills, which are commonly referred to as cinnamon sticks.

Ceylon Cinnamon: Sri Lankan cinnamon, on the other hand, has a lighter colour, ranging from light brown to tan, and has a thinner and more delicate bark. It is usually rolled into thin, paper-like layers and has a softer texture compared to cassia cinnamon.


Cinnamon: Due to its robust flavour and aroma, cassia cinnamon is commonly used in baking, cooking, and spice blends. It is often used in recipes that require a strong cinnamon flavour, such as in cinnamon rolls, pies, and spice rubs for meats. It is also commonly used in commercial food products like candies, snacks, and beverages.

Ceylon Cinnamon: Sri Lankan cinnamon, with its delicate flavour and aroma, is often used in more subtle culinary applications. It is ideal for use in desserts where a milder cinnamon flavour is desired, such as in delicate cakes, custards, and ice creams. Sri Lankan cinnamon is also highly valued for its medicinal properties and is used in traditional Ayurvedic and other herbal remedies for various health benefits, including its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and digestive properties.

In addition to culinary uses, both cinnamon and Sri Lankan cinnamon are also used for their aromatic properties. They are often used in potpourri, perfumes, and scented candles for their warm and comforting scent.

Why is Sri Lankan cinnamon special?

The geographical and environmental factors of the Sri Lankan landscape contribute to the exceptional quality of Ceylon cinnamon. The island's unique combination of tropical climate, fertile soil, and abundant rainfall fosters the ideal conditions for the cultivation of this prized spice. The traditional cultivation techniques passed down through generations, coupled with sustainable farming practices, ensure the preservation of the cinnamon's integrity and the maintenance of the island's natural biodiversity.

Sri Lanka's commitment to maintaining the authenticity and purity of Ceylon cinnamon has earned it a distinct place in the international market, captivating the hearts and palates of chefs and culinary enthusiasts worldwide. With its unparalleled fragrance and nuanced flavor, Ceylon cinnamon from Sri Lanka remains a cherished gem, embodying a cultural heritage that continues to enchant and inspire.

Which cinnamon is healthiest?

While cinnamon and Sri Lankan cinnamon may appear similar, they differ in terms of their source, flavour, aroma, coumarin content, appearance, and usage. Cassia cinnamon is more widely available, has a stronger flavour, and higher coumarin content, while Sri Lankan cinnamon is rarer, has a milder flavour, lower coumarin content, and is highly prized for its unique flavour profile.

Depending on the intended use and personal preferences, both types of cinnamon can be used in various culinary applications, but Sri Lankan cinnamon may be preferred for its delicate flavour and lower coumarin content, especially for those who consume cinnamon regularly for health reasons. It's always important to use cinnamon in moderation and consult with a healthcare professional, especially if using it for medicinal purposes or if you have any health concerns.

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