Star Anise Illicium verum
The name of this curious spice is derived from its eight-pointed star shaped seeds. It is the fruit of an evergreen tree originating from Southern China and has been cultivated since before 2000BC. It can grow up to 15 metres tall. Its taste is very distinctive and is likened to a combination of licorice and aniseed. It is a compound in the essential oil called anethol which gives this seed its unusual taste and scent.
The fruit is harvested just before it ripens as this is when the essential oil is at its highest concentration. The oil of this fruit can be found in soaps, tobacco, perfumes and even drinks such as Sambuca and Absinthe.
We prefer ours in our exotic Star Anise and Cinnamon tea.