Mastic gum, or Mastiha is a resin obtained from the Mastic trees in the island of Chios (Eastern Greece). The Mastic trees produce "tears" which are usually dried on the tree, collected by hand and, either packed as crystals or ground to a powder. Mastiha has a distinctive aroma, a taste that resembles some degree to pine and licorice, and a herbal aftertaste. Mastiha's distinctive flavor becomes refreshing when chewed, this is why it has been chewed since antiquity; it was the original chewing gum. Only large pieces must be chewed as they are softer inside and the small pieces are hard as rocks. Mastiha has proven health benefits and for centuries it has been used for gum and oral health, and for pharmaceutical and cosmetic preparations.
In culinary it is used in the traditional New Year's pie, the "Vasilopita", the traditional sweet dessert "tsoureki", and other recipes for sweet cookies and pies, and the production of preserves, liquors, and sodas. You can also use ground mastiha in other dessert preparations like juices and smoothies, jams and preserves, ice cream, and puddings.