Illicium verum is a medium-sized evergreen tree native to northeast Vietnam and southwest China. A spice commonly called star-anise seed, or badiam that closely resembles anise in flavor is obtained from the star-shaped pericarp of the fruit of Illicium verum which are harvested just before ripening. Star anise oil is a highly fragrant oil used in cooking, perfumery, soaps, toothpastes, mouthwashes, and skin creams. About 90% of the world’s star anise crop is used for extraction of shikimic acid, a chemical intermediate used in the synthesis of oseltamivir.
Star anise contains anethole, the same ingredient that gives the unrelated anise its flavor. Recently, star anise has come into use in the West as a less expensive substitute for anise in baking, as well as in liquor production, most distinctively in the production of the liqueur Galliano. It is also used in the production of Sambuca, pastis, and many types of absinthe. Star anise enhances the flavour of meat. It is used as a spice in preparation of biryani and masala chai all over the Indian subcontinent. It is widely used in Chinese cuisine, and in Malay and Indonesian cuisines. It is widely grown for commercial use in China, India, and most other countries in Asia. Star anise is an ingredient of the traditional five-spice powder of Chinese cooking. It is also a major ingredient in the making of phở, a Vietnamese noodle soup. It is also used in the French recipe of mulled wine: called vin chaud (hot wine). If allowed to steep in coffee, it deepens and enriches the flavor. These pods can be reused in this manner, by the pot-full or cup, many times as the ease of extraction of the gustatory components increases with the permeation of hot water.
Anise is sweet and very aromatic, distinguished by its characteristic flavor. The seeds, whole or ground, are used for preparation of teas and tisanes (alone or in combination with other aromatic herbs), as well as in a wide variety of regional and ethnic confectioneries, including black jelly beans, British aniseed balls, Australian humbugs, New Zealand aniseed wheels, Italian pizzelle, German Pfeffernüsse and Springerle, Austrian Anisbögen, Dutch muisjes, New Mexican bizcochitos, and Peruvian picarones. It is a key ingredient in Mexican atole de anís and champurrado, which is similar to hot chocolate, and it is taken as a digestive after meals in India.
Anise is used to flavor Middle Eastern arak; Colombian aguardiente; French absinthe, anisette, and pastis; Greek ouzo; Bulgarian and Macedonian Mastika; German Jägermeister and Schlossfrieder; Swiss Appenzeller and Alpenbitter; Italian sambuca; Dutch Brokmöpke; Portuguese, Peruvian, and Spanish Anísado and Herbs de Majorca; Mexican Xtabentún; and Turkish Rakı. These liquors are clear, but on addition of water become cloudy, a phenomenon known as the ouzo effect. It is believed to be one of the secret ingredients in the French liqueur Chartreuse. It is also used in some root beers, such as Virgil’s in the United States.