25th
Feb
2014

Posted in Kafevend Blog

I must admit that I've never been much of a fan of liquorice. Prior to this article, the extent of my knowledge regarding it was that you could use it to make odd tasting sweets. It never occurred to me that liquorice is in fact a plant (a herbaceous perennial, for the green fingered amongst you). We know that liquorice was around at the time of Ancient Rome, thanks to the works of the Greek botanist Pedanius Dioscorides. Its use by humans is believed to extend back to the time of Ancient Egypt; no doubt it went well with their marshmallows. The liquorice flavour is found in the root of the plant. The traditional method for extraction involves crushing the root, boiling it in water, straining the water off and evaporating most of it away, before rolling the remaining mass into sticks.

The liquorice extract, with its strong and sweet flavour has found its way in to a wide variety of products. One of the main uses of liquorice is in various forms of tobacco, where it is used to improve the flavour. A more health conscious choice to sate your liquorice craving can be enjoyed in the form of liquorice tea (tangential link, ho!), made by many companies. Perhaps the most recognisable form liquorice takes is in the wide range of confectionery available, liquorice allsorts being an obvious example.

Liquorice, like anything that can be boiled in water to make a tea, comes with a medical aspect too.  Large amounts of liquorice, or rather the sweet chemical compound glycyrrhizin within it, can cause issues like high blood pressure- as with anything in life, but particularly so in this case, I'd recommend you enjoy it in moderation!

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