In this section we will look at the storied history of Ceylon Cinnamon. From it's evolution during ancient times to colonial plantations to the current state of the industry.

Cinnamon Side Effects


Ceylon Cinnamon has been known for hundreds if not centuries. It was particularly prized for its health in the middle east. Ancient Egyptians used it as long ago as 2000 BCE and even the Bible makes mention of Cinnamon in proverb 7:17 when it says " "I have sprinkled my bed With myrrh, aloes and cinnamon ". While its source was kept a mystery by the traders to their source, today it is well known that Cinnamon came from the tiny Island of Sri Lanka located at the tip of India. This is the true home of Cinnamon.

Cinnamon was a component of the Ketoret which is used when referring to the consecrated incense described in the Hebrew Bible and Talmud. It was offered on the specialized incense altar in the time when the Tabernacle was located in the First and Second Jerusalem Temples. The ketoret was an important component of the Temple service in Jerusalem. It was so highly prized among ancient nations that it was regarded as a gift fit for monarchs and even for a god: a fine inscription records the gift of cinnamon and cassia to the temple of Apollo at Miletus. It is also alluded to by Herodotus and other classical writers.

It was too expensive to be commonly used on funeral pyres in Rome, but the Emperor Nero is said to have burned a year's worth of the city's supply at the funeral for his wife Poppaea Sabina in AD 65.[10] </ Before the foundation of Cairo, Alexandria was the Mediterranean shipping port of cinnamon. Europeans who knew the Latin writers who were quoting Herodotus knew that cinnamon came up the Red Sea to the trading ports of Egypt, but whether from Ethiopia or not was less than clear. When the Sieur de Joinville accompanied his king to Egypt on crusade in 1248, he reported what he had been told—and believed—that cinnamon was fished up in nets at the source of the Nile out at the edge of the world.

Through the Middle Ages, the source of cinnamon was a mystery to the Western world. Marco Polo avoided precision on this score. In Herodotus and other authors, Arabia was the source of cinnamon: giant Cinnamon birds collected the cinnamon sticks from an unknown land where the cinnamon trees grew and used them to construct their nests; the Arabs employed a trick to obtain the sticks. This story was current as late as 1310 in Byzantium, although in the first century, Pliny the Elder had written that the traders had made this up in order to charge more.

The first mention of the spice growing in Sri Lanka was in Zakariya al-Qazwini's Athar al-bilad wa-akhbar al-‘ibad ("Monument of Places and History of God's Bondsmen") in about 1270.This was followed shortly thereafter by John of Montecorvino, in a letter of about 1292. Indonesian rafts transported cinnamon (known in Indonesia as kayu manis- literally "sweet wood") on a "cinnamon route" directly from the Moluccas to East Africa, where local traders then carried it north to the Roman market. Arab traders brought the spice via overland trade routes to Alexandria in Egypt, where it was bought by Venetian traders from Italy who held a monopoly on the spice trade in Europe. The disruption of this trade by the rise of other Mediterranean powers, such as the Mamluk Sultans and the Ottoman Empire, was one of many factors that led Europeans to search more widely for other routes to Asia.



Portuguese traders finally landed in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) at the beginning of the sixteenth century and restructured the traditional production and management of cinnamon by the Sinhalese, who later held the monopoly for cinnamon in Ceylon. The Portuguese established a fort on the island in 1518 and protected their own monopoly for over a hundred years.


Dutch traders finally dislodged the Portuguese by allying with the inland Kingdom of Kandy. They established a trading post in 1638, took control of the factories by 1640, and expelled all remaining Portuguese by 1658. "The shores of the island are full of it", a Dutch captain reported, "and it is the best in all the Orient: when one is downwind of the island, one can still smell cinnamon eight leagues out to sea." The Dutch East India Company continued to overhaul the methods of harvesting in the wild and eventually began to cultivate its own trees.


In 1767, Lord Brown of East India Company established Anjarakkandy Cinnamon Estate near Anjarakkandy in Cannanore (now Kannur) district of Kerala, and this estate became Asia's largest cinnamon estate. The British took control of the island from the Dutch in 1796. However, the importance of the monopoly of Ceylon was already declining, as cultivation of the cinnamon tree spread to other areas, the more common cassia bark became more acceptable to consumers, and coffee, tea, sugar, and chocolate began to outstrip the popularity of traditional spices. Source : Wikipedia



Ceylon Cinnamon is now yet again gaining in importance. People all over the World have recognized the fabulous health properties of Ceylon Cinnamon. Cassia Cinnamon by comparison has high levels of Coumarin which can damage our liver. But it goes further than that. The composition of Ceylon Cinnamon is of much higher quality especially the essential oils derived from the Ceylon Cinnamon Bark as well as the leaves of the tree.



The best Ceylon Cinnamon is grown in the south west corner of Sri Lanka starting from Ambalangoda, Hikkaduwa down to Matara. This is because Ceylon Cinnamon likes the sandy soils and weather conditions in this region of Sri Lanka. They have tried growing Cinnamon in other parts of Sri Lanka with little success. The vast bulk of Ceylon Cinnamon is grown in the Emblazoneda area of Sri Lanka.

ceylon cinnamon peeler


But the Ceylon Cinnamon farms are still owned by small holders. This is the legacy of the Dutch who divided the land into small plots, so Sri Lankan's would cultivate and sell them the Cinnamon. Unlike Sri Lanka has few any large scale Ceylon Cinnamon farms, which may be a good thing. That means the use of pesticide very limited even though the Ceylon Cinnamon tree does get affected by blight.

The second issue is, as Sri Lanka has developed into a middle income country not many people want to peel cinnamon. It is a back breaking job for little pay. Most workers have bad working conditions and often get overwhelmed and suffer from inhaling too much Cinnamon.

Sri Lanka Cinnamon farmers usually sell the Ceylon Cinnamon Bark and the dried leaves to a processor in the village. The processor will then peel and make Cinnamon sticks. Other processors will only make the essential Oils and usually have a traditional steam distilling machine to do so.

Once the Cinnamon is processed it is sold to middlemen who will package it and either export it or distribute it locally. The most famous of this is G.P. Deslva and sons and P.D. Romanis and Sons and few other companies. Many of the processors have limited Cinnamon cultivation of their own but they do serve a valuable function in bringing the product to market and developing value added products from Cinnamon which the local farmer is incapable of doing.


The Sri Lanka government is attempting to reform the industry. In order to do this they have set up a Cinnamon research Station close to the souther town of Matara. Here they are developing new breeds of Cinnamon to increase the quality and oil content. This is not genetic modification or a GMO. These are Cinnamon plants that have been cross bred to produce a stronger plant. The research station has also developed new tools and chairs to make peeling Cinnamon easier. They have also a training facility where students are taught how to peel Ceylon Cinnamon. In addition the Sri Lankan government has introduced new standards for Cinnamon exports called SLS-81 standards which aims to set bench marks for quality. This is because there is still a lot of fraud in the Cinnamon industry with growers and processing attempting to cheat by selling inferior quality Ceylon Cinnamon.