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Star Anise

Star anise comes from the Illicium verum tree. The seed pod containing a single pea-sized seed is harvested before it matures, dried, and used as a spice. It resembles an eight-pointed star, hence the name.

Star Anise Trivia

  • Star anise also goes by the name staranise, star anise seed, star aniseed, star of anise, badian, and Chinese star anise.
  • Before changes were made in 2012, 90% of the world’s annual star anise crop goes to Roche Pharmaceuticals, where star anise is used to produce shikimic acid. John O’Connell, The Book of Spice: From Anise to Zedoary, wrote: “The pharmaceutical company Roche used so much star anise in the drug’s manufacture that in 2005 there was a world shortage of the spice.”

Star Anise Buying Guide

When buying star anise, you’ll notice that unlike other spices sold in powder form, this one resembles the shape of a star.

Kingdom: Plantae
Family: Schisandraceae
Genus: Illicium
Species: I. verum
Binomial name: Illicium verum

You’ll immediately see star anise because it is that red (or dark red) star-shaped item that doesn’t look like spice and looks more like a small, dried, pressed flower. You can buy by weight or per pack.

Buy enough for what you need at home. There’s a 1/2 cup glass jar of ground star anise or if you need more, you can buy a gallon, even a 5-pound bulk bag, which is best if you have a restaurant or catering business and use star anise in many of your dishes.

When you buy ground star anise, it is commonly all-natural, gluten-free, Kosher Parve, and Non-GMO.

You can also find star anise oil at the supermarket, grocery store, or specialty spice stores. You can use this not just for cooking, but for other things as well like making perfumes, soaps, toothpaste, mouthwashes, skin creams, and many others.

Star Anise Production & Farming in Texas

There is no large-scale commercial production of star anise in Texas.

Nonetheless, it is easy to buy star anise (whole or ground) in Texas. Try Faraday’s Kitchen Store in Austin, Texas Brewing Inc. in Haltom City, Bolner’s Fiesta Products, Inc. in San Antonio, and Walmart in Bentonville.

Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals

There are no known or reported additives found in ground star anise.


The tree from which star anise comes from is native to northeast Vietnam and southwest China. China and India are two of the leading countries in terms of growing and exporting star anise. Star anise is also cultivated in Korea and Japan, and in the southeast Asian countries of Laos, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

Denys J. Charles, in the book Antioxidant Properties of Spices, Herbs and Other Sources, wrote: “Star anise is known to be a native spice of China and has been used as a spice and medicine for well over 3,000 years.” Frederick J. Simons, in the book Food in China: A Cultural and Historical Inquiry, explained how star anise made its way from China to different parts of the world. “Star anise did not reach India, the Near East, or Europe in antiquity. Indeed the first to reach Europe was obtained in the Philippines by an English voyager…in the sixteenth century. It was only after that time, it seems, that star anise entered trade from China to India, the Near East, and Europe.”


Star anise (in powder form) is sold in plastic, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, or glass bottles with a lid that serve the purpose of storage as well as a dispenser. The packaging includes cap shrink wrap for product safety and a label to make sure consumers are provided with the information they need, like ingredients, nutritional information, batch number, location of production and manufacturing, etc. You can also find star anise (powder and whole) sold in plastic refill packs, single-use packets, or pouches, as well as in a resealable, moisture-proof aluminum-lined stand-up plastic or paper bag with a valve zipper.

Enjoying Star Anise

Star anise carries a sweet and spicy flavor and tastes like licorice. If you enjoy eating Asian dishes, there is a very good chance that you’ve eaten a dish flavored with star anise. Star anise has anethol, which gives star anise its licorice flavor.


Store star anise in a cool, dry place. The kitchen pantry is ideal. If you have a spice rack or spice cabinet, keep your star anise there. Put it in a container with a lid and always keep the lid closed.


Star anise is used in making India’s popular dishes like biryani and masala chai, as well as phở, a Vietnamese noodle soup. Star anise is also commonly used in Malay and Chinese cuisines. Star anise is used in making five-spice powder, a traditional spice blend used in Chinese cooking. Use star anise when making stews and soups, and season red meat and poultry. Star anise is used not only for savory dishes but for cooking sweets as well, like cakes and cookies.

Star anise is also used in making beverages, like mulled wine (vin chaud or hot wine), tea, and apple cider. Star anise is also used to flavor coffee.

Star anise is one of the ingredients used in making sambuca, “a colorless digestivo liqueur flavored with star anise” as described by Francine Segan in the book Dolci: Italy’s Sweets. Star anise is also used in absinthe. R. Winston Guthrie and James F. Thompson, in the book A Taste for Absinthe: 65 Recipes for Classic and Contemporary Cocktails, explained that green anise seed is one of the three basic herbs used in making absinthe, and that “star anise is sometimes substituted but not as fine.”

Star anise is also used to flavor pastis. Matteo Bordiga, in the book Post-Fermentation and -Distillation Technology, wrote: “Pastis does not contain grand wormwood and obtains its anise flavor from a distillation of star anise.”

Nutritional Benefits

Star anise has anti-fungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps you manage your blood sugar levels and symptoms of depression and, among women, symptoms of menopause. This is also used to treat cold and flu symptoms.

You don’t use star anise in cooking for nutrition, but it is important to know that star anise is known for its medicinal properties. It can help soothe the stomach and help with digestive problems. People suffering from arthritis and rheumatism may find relief with the help of star anise. This spice is also used by some people to help stimulate the brain and improve the nervous system.



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