Mastiha is a unique product that is produced exclusively in southern Chios from the resin of the mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus). The mastic trees of Chios produces the exquisite product, which is now highly regarded as a basic ingredient in several natural pharmaceuticals. The island’s micro-climate, its topology and landscape are the secret behind its cultivation on this tiny part of the planet.
The mastic is the resin of the mastic tree, an evergreen tree that lives up to 150 years. The resin is obtained from incisions made in the bark of each tree. The resin is sticky and flows in droplets from the incisions and solidifies on the ground in different shapes after 15-20 days. The pieces of dry mastic can then be collected for cleaning and eventual sale. In addition to mastic, mastic oil is also produced. Initially its taste is bitter but after chewed it leaves a special flavor which is unique.
The mastic of Chios is known since antiquity, not only for its special flavor but also for its medicinal uses. It is often cited as the first natural chewing gum. It was also used in cosmetology for face and body cleansing and was also an ingredient in a series of pharmaceutical recipes and other remedies.
In 1997 the mastic production on Chios was granted protected designation of origin within the European Union. In 2002, a company was established in Athens by the Union of Mastic producers of Chios, with aim the promotion of the mastiha throughout the world. The managing director of the company Yiannis Mandalas stressed: “In terms of its usage, the mastic can only be compared only with another natural product, the vanilla. However, due to its therapeutic properties the mastic predominates. Mastic is a natural antibacterial, anti-flammatory and antimicrobial. It is also used as key ingredient in confectionery, cuisine, cosmetology and in the beverage and pharmaceutical industry.”