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Nov 15, 2006 07:14 AM

Where can i find REAL CINNAMON--It doesn't exist in the US-PLEASE READ

Where can i find real cinnamon in the LA area, preferably from Sri Lanka?

Unfortunately, many people don't know that the cinnamon sold in the USA is actually not cinnamon, but is actually a cousin of cinnamon called Cassia:

As opposed to real cinnamon:

So, does anyone know where i can find the real stuff in LA?-I've tried Whole food with no luck.



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  1. Check Surfas.
    8777 Washington Blvd
    Culver City, CA 90232
    (310) 559-4770

    1. Penzeys ( , 1-800-741-7787) carries true cinnamon, 4 oz and 8 oz jars or a 1 lb bag.

      2 Replies
      1. re: JepJonson

        The Penzey's Web site (careful -- there's a comma stuck to the end of that URL) is useful, even if you're not currently in the market for cinnamon, because many of the product descriptions are quite informative. E.g., check "cinnamon."

        1. re: JepJonson

          Yes to Penzey's. They carry cassia, "true cinnamon" and Chinese and my fave, Vietnamese cinnamon. I believe the "true cinnamon" is the Sri Lankan. If there isn't a Penzey's in your area, you can order. They carry good stuff.

          1. re: James G

            Penzey's also has a store in Torrance... it's SPICE heaven! :)


            1. re: Dommy

              I went to their store today, and you're right -- it's a great place with excellent products, attractive and informative displays, and knowledgeable salespeople. I particularly liked the way they have a large jar you can open at each spice station (but you buy sealed jars or bags). More than once I changed my mind about which variety of a spice to get after smelling the jars. Penzey's has stores all over the country but only this one in California.

              1. re: Mel Gee

                And there's a Penzey's in Santa Monica on 4th St., between Arizona and Santa Monica Blvd.

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. I agree with AquaW that it is a little rediculous to take up the teacher's podium on Chowhound about something as simple as cassia vs. cinnamon... I bought my most recent cinnamon bark at a Chinese herb market in the Cholon district of Saigon (care to start a bidding war?? :) Chowhounds are proudly not of the general eating public and I would bet that the vast majority of people who seek Chowhound out won't need the wikipedia step-by-step, (although we do generally appreciate thoroughness in postings :)

              For something a little closer to home than Vietnam, the above recs are great however for something not in Culver City or the South Bay (Both Surfas and Penzeys have very limited hours, closing between 5:30 - 6:30 so they're hard to get to during the work week), I've seen something spefically packaged as "Saigon Cinnamon" in the spice rack at Ralphs Fresh Fare on Beverly and Doheny (however I didn't take a close enough look at it to see if it was in fact the real deal.)

              Mr Taster

              12 Replies
              1. re: Mr Taster

                Mr. Taster, Vietnamese cinnamon is great stuff but it is Cassia, not "true" cinnamon. As noted below, the latter is available from the Spice House. to me, the distinction is subtle and both are delicious.

                1. re: jen kalb

                  I would agree that Vietnamese Cassia is really wonderful. I refer specifically to the one I know from Penzey's: Extra Fancy Vietnamese my tastes, the best of what they offer in the general category of "cinnamons." I have purchased all the different ones they offer (some real cinnamons) and compared them side-by-side, and every time the Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cassia gets my vote.

                  1. re: liu

                    I like both for different reasons. Ceylon Cinnamon, to me, works fabulously with fruits and fruit desserts like crumbles.

                    I like the Cassia (I agree that the Vietnamese Extra Fancy rocks) for things where I want a real cinnamon flavor blast, like cinnamon toast or coffee cake.

                  2. re: Mr Taster

                    Im no expert but everything Ive read indicates that the ceylon and vietnamese are different species of cinnamonum. Ive had "true" cinnamon sticks that are really papery and ones that are thicker looking - like the most recent I got from Spice House. Please, I am not suggesting one is better or worse, only that there are different types out there.

                  3. re: Mr Taster

                    My problem is my husband within the last 5 years or so has become allergic to some sort of cinnamon. He'd bitten into a Dentyne piece of 'fire' gum and his tongue was swollen for 2 weeks! Even if I have a piece of cinnamon certs and kiss him he will swell up. So, I'm trying to find out the difference on 'real' cinnamon vs what they're putting in most products now for cheaper processing.
                    I know that allergies can appear unexpectedly, but he also has diabetes which cinnamon is supposed to be good for and want to try to be able to make him things like cinnamon rolls or even pumpkin pie again.
                    Thanks for any help!

                    1. re: Chrmd

                      Cinnamon may be good for diabetes but I guarantee once you wrap it in the fat, sugar and processed flour of pumpkin pie and cinnamon rolls, any therapeutic benefit has been overturned many times over.

                      Mr Taster

                      1. re: Mr Taster

                        I know, lol, it's more that I want to actually eat it and not have to worry about contaminating him w/ it somehow :0)

                        But, I have found some sugar substitute recipes that would work for the rolls and even muffins for him.

                        1. re: Chrmd

                          If it works well for him then god bless. However, I know from personal experience that the combination of lots of fat + carbs (with or without sugar/artificial sweetener-- pizza, for example) sends my blood sugars into an uncontrollable tizzy that often takes hours to recover from.

                          Mr Taster

                      2. re: Chrmd

                        The choice of cassia or real cinnamon isn't just a matter of cost. The thin bark kind has a milder, more subtle flavor, and probably does not give a strong 'cinnamon' flavor to gum and candy. In fact what's in the candy might actually be cinnamon of any kind ('artificial and natural flavorings')



                        The only sure fire way of identifying the type of bark is to buy whole (not ground), and judge from appearance. My suggestion is to look for the thin bark quills at a Mexican grocery, and then look for thick chunks at a Vietnamese shop.

                        1. re: paulj

                          thanks! I'll go check one out downtown tomorrow when I also go looking for some herbal tea at a new shop that opened.

                        2. re: Chrmd

                          Hi, There

                          Just wanted to chime in on the allergy subject.

                          I started having a very bad lip reaction a few years ago but couldn't figure out what it was. Eventually, I tied it back to a plumping lip gloss I had been using nonstop -- which contained "cinnamon". After years of dermatologists, allergists, blood tests and even a neurologist, we finally figured it out: I'm not allergic to cinnamon. I'm allergic to cassia!

                          I avoid anything made with "cinnamon" and mint since there are sometimes some crossovers. (I even brush my teeth with vanilla and anise toothpastes. Expensive and tough to find). Since I've started doing that, I've had very few problems.

                          I can, however, eat foods that I know are made with real cinnamon. We use only the bark type to be absolutely sure no cassia has been added to the ground stuff to bulk things up. I'm finally able to eat homemade pies and desserts again!

                          Maybe try a small amount of bark to see how he does with it.

                          Good luck! He has my sympathy. :-(