Liquorice is the underground stem or rhizome of the plant Glycyrrhiza glabra. The word liquorice comes from the Greek words “glyks” which means sweet and “rhiza” which means root. Ancient civilizations such as the Greeks and the Romans made liquorice extract as we make them today, showing just how long these have been around for. Even the ancient Chinese distilled the essence of the liquorice root, which they then prescribed as a remedy for many illnesses.
The plant is usually found growing wild in many countries in the Middle East as well as south eastern Europe. Liquorice is intensely aromatic and has a sweet flavour, and is often used as a flavouring agent in many cuisines across the globe. Unsurprisingly, it is a key ingredient in many baked goods and confectionaries. However, liquorice candy usually only has no more than 2 percent natural liquorice extract. In most cases, its sweet flavour is thanks to the addition of either a synthetic substitute or anise. A majority of the natural liquorice which are used as a flavouring agent are used for tobacco products such as cigars, cigarettes and pipe tobacco. Liquorice sticks are often soaked and dissolved in hot water and later drunk as tisane.