Star Anise has a flavour similar to aniseed, although the plants are unrelated and come from different parts of the world. Both plants get their flavour from a compound called anethole, which occurs naturally within the plant. Star Anise originates from China, where it is very popular. It forms one of the five spices in Chinese Five Spice, which is the defining spice of Chinese cuisine.
Star anise has nutritional qualities similar to those of aniseed. Like aniseed, it is often chewed after meals and throughout the day, in order to freshen breath, aid digestion and promote a feeling of internal warmth. It is also added to tea to help with rheumatism, though we would be interested to see whether it is effective in this regard. In common with many other spices, the essential oils within anise have a mild antimicrobial effect
As well as its use in Chinese and Indian cooking, star anise is also used in mulled wine. It is also used in herbal teas, and has a warming, soothing effect. You can add a clove of star anise to some of our herbal teas - particularly the ones designed for soothing sore throats or for helping you with a cold.