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Chios Mastiha (Mastic) in Greece

A Greek elixir that cures diseases and complements desserts

Chios Mastiha (Mastic)
Chios Mastiha (Mastic)
Chios Mastiha (Mastic)
Chios Mastiha (Mastic)

Chios island, particularly its southern part, is famous for its “tears of forest”, which have been used since Greek antiquity in medicine to prevent digestive problems and to freshen one's breath. Besides its medical advantages, Chios Mastiha is a component of various sweets and the well-known Chios Mastiha Liqueur.

July to September is when the mastiha passes through a long harvesting process where anyone can observe how the precious resin appears on trees of the island.

Practical info

When is the ideal season to observe the mastiha harvest in Chios Island?

From July to September, visitors can witness the traditional mastiha harvesting process which has been unchanged for centuries. The procedure includes making incisions on the mastic trees, collecting the resinous droplets that fall on the paper beneath the trees, and carefully cleaning them. The fragrant and fascinating harvest tradition is unique to the southern part of Chios Island and offers a glimpse into the cultural and historical roots of the local cuisine. Show more

Where specifically can one find the Chios Mastiha trees?

The southern area of Chios Island, called Mastichochoria, is where the Chios Mastiha trees can be found. Visitors can walk through the mastic orchards, enjoy the scent of the trees, and explore the 24 ancient villages which date back to medieval times. Pyrgi and Mesta, neighboring villages, offer traditional architecture and a glimpse into local culture, making Mastichochoria an ideal destination for enthusiasts of culinary culture and curious travelers. Show more

What was the role of Chios Mastiha in ancient Greek civilization, and how did people use it to treat digestive issues?

Chios Mastiha was widely used in ancient Greece for its medical properties, specifically to allev‌iate digestive problems and to freshen one's breath. People chewed mastic to clean their teeth and aspired to use it in cosmetics and perfumes for its fragrance and antibacterial qualities. Mastic was also used to flavor food, particularly meat and wine. Today, modern science confirms its use in traditional medicine, with mastiha being employed to treat stomach ulcers and included in pharmaceutical and personal care products because of its antibacterial functionality. Show more

What are typical Chios Island food products that integrate Chios Mastiha?

Alongside its many uses in various Greek and Mediterranean cuisines, Chios Mastiha is a prevalent ingredient in Turkish delight, also referred to as loukoumi, with pastries like cakes, cookies, and mastiha ice cream. Mastiha augments the flavor of fruit preserves, honey, liqueurs, and ouzo, a traditional Greek anise-flavored drink. This ingredient has a unique flavor profile best described as herbal, slightly bitter, and resinous, making it an innovative addition to any passionate cook's kitchen. Show more

What is the process for creating Chios Mastiha Liqueur?

Chios Mastiha Liqueur, a well-liked Greek digestive made from soaking mastiha in a mixture of alcohol and sugar syrup. The traditional recipe requires a six-month infusion process wherein the mastiha resin dissolves in the liquid, imparting its flavor, aroma, and characteristic cloudiness. Other herbs and spices are often added by some producers, such as cinnamon, anise, or citrus, to enhance the flavor profile. The result is a sweet and potent drink served chilled or neat after meals. Chios Mastiha Liqueur is a popular souvenir and gift that showcases the idiosyncratic taste of Chios Island, and it also serves as a distinctive ingredient in cocktails. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin