Several similar but different species of tree bark are sold as cinnamon.

“True” or Ceylon cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka, which produces at least 80 per cent of the world’s supply. It has a warm, spicy, intensely aromatic scent and flavour.

Cassia – aka Dutch cinnamon, baker’s cinnamon or bastard cinnamon – is native to China and has an earthier, noticeably less delicate flavour. Both are sold ground or as whole quills made by stripping the bark from the tree.

It’s entirely possible you’ve never had true cinnamon in your pantry – most Australian supermarkets tend to stock the cheaper cassia. If in doubt, order online, or look for packets with the words cinnamomum verum or cinnamomum zeylanicum on them.

Either way, both types of cinnamon have mild anti-inflammatory properties and may protect against diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

This story originally appeared in Melbourne print issue 28 and Sydney print issue 20.