The story of The Spice House and Tom and Patty Erd begins with the national Penzey’s Spices retail chain; Patty is the daughter of the Penzey’s founders. I really like The Spice House website because it’s thorough, informative, and user-friendly. Most of the reviews seem to be written personally by Patty.
Ceylon “true cinnamon” ($7.99/4oz)
Ceylon cinnamon has a bright, citrus flavor that’s different than the cassia typically found in American stores. The Spice House’s Ceylon cinnamon has a very light, yellow-tan color. The taste is very sweet on the tongue. The Ceylon cinnamon “soft-sticks” are made of flaky, light, fragile layers that are easy to grind at home. Use Ceylon cinnamon where it’s culturally appropriate, such as Mexican food. I also like a 50%/50% blend with Vietnamese cinnamon for exciting, unique cinnamon rolls.
Cassia is the typical American baking cinnamon, with a darker, more robust flavor than Ceylon cinnamon. I made a batch of oatmeal cookies with each cassia cinnamon from The Spice House. The ingredients and amounts are equal except the type of cinnamon used. The three batches were taste-tested by a large group of colleagues, and the comments are summarized in each description. This is only an evaluation of the flavor of each cinnamon in oatmeal cookies, the results would no doubt be drastically different in another dish.
Chinese cinnamon “China Tung Hing Cassia” ($4.49/4oz)
The Chinese cassia from The Spice House is the lightest and sweetest of the three cassia varieties. It actually seems to enhance the inherent sweetness of foods, so use with caution when baking. The color is tan, with light red tones. It is a simpler, smoother cinnamon, the flavor doesn’t really stand out on its own. It would be appropriate for everyday use in spice blends or dishes where cinnamon is a background flavor. It was my least favorite of The Spice House cassias.
Taste test notes: light taste, too sweet, sweeter, weaker, one-dimensional, simpler, lighter, insignificant flavor
Indonesian cinnamon “Korintje cassia” ($3.59/4oz)
Indonesian Korintje is the most common variety of cassia; grade B and C are typically sold at supermarkets. The Grade-A Korintje cassia from The Spice House is higher quality than the stuff you can buy in the grocery store. The color is a bright, rusty orange. The general taste of Korintje is best-described as “traditional”, and brings to mind spice cookies and cakes. The Korintje from The Spice House is very fresh, and has a fantastic piney, effervescent quality that distinguishes it from other sources. I also find it fresher than Penzey’s jars of Korintje (this could be due to packaging differences, though). The pungency is somewhere in between Chinese and Vietnamese, and people who find Vietnamese cinnamon too strong may prefer Indonesian Korintje.
Taste test: traditional, medium, in between others; brings out saltiness in cookies; good for food, not too sweet, soft, balanced, subtle; tastes like gingersnaps
Vietnamese cinnamon “Saigon cassia” ($5.29/4oz)
Vietnamese cinnamon is always a favorite here in the VanillaReview test kitchen. The sample from The Spice House is dark brown in color, with deep red tones. The aroma of is overwhelming and rich; it’s definitely the strongest of the three cassia samples that I received. The flavor is deep and heavy. It has some heat, and is the only of the three samples that really makes your tongue tingle. Use in dishes where cinnamon is a feature flavor; voted best for oatmeal cookies in the taste test.
Taste test: sparkling, tangy, fuller flavor, smoky/woody/humid aroma, heavier, strongest flavor