Mastihashop’s Eid hampers just fantastic with mastic

Many will be giving family and friends gifts of food this weekend for Eid, but for those looking to share something a little special, and alternative, search no further.

Mastihashop is selling Eid hampers filled with products made with mastiha, or mastic, a tree resin made from the pistacia lentiscus var Chia tree, an evergreen which grows only in the south of the Greek island of Chios.

The resin is as expensive as it is rare, retailing for around Dh1,200 per kilo.


And mastihashop, a franchise of the Greek brand based in Dubai, is selling a hamper full of the best selection of products made using mastic, the most expensive of which costs about Dh6,000.

That will buy a hamper filled with around a dozen types of the shop’s most expensive products, including mastic resin, chocolates made both with and without mastic, balaklava sweets and sparkling water made with 1 per cent mastic oil.

The hamper also includes coffee cups, coffee brewed with mastic oil, and a small bottle of the oil itself.

“If the gift is going to an Arab person or a Mediterranean person they would appreciate this bottle of oil very much,” says the shop’s owner and UAE master franchisee Mansoor Al Bastaki.

“You could mix it with water and put a candle under it or use it in cooking. One drip of that oil can make a mastiha cake, for example, which is enough for 10 or 20 people,” he adds.

If Dh6,000 is out of your price range, the shop also sells cheaper versions of its Eid hampers which retail for around Dh500 as well as gift boxes, which cost between Dh250 and Dh750.

Eid is the shop’s busiest time of the year, and it expects to sell around 60 hampers in the run-up to the celebration this week.

Mr Al Bastaki came across the brand at Gulfood, one of the world’s largest food exhibitions, which is held every year in Dubai.

“We also sell cosmetics and skincare, because mastiha is as well very beneficial for the skin. Today a lot of medicines use mastiha and it has been approved by a lot of medical associations in the US, Canada and the UK. That is why it is a little bit expensive.”

q&a resin with special qualities

Gillian Duncan reveals more about Chios mastic, which is only grown on the southern tip of the Greek island of Chios.

What is mastic and how is it cultivated?

Mastic is a tree resin which is excreted in tear drops from the trunk and large branches through cuts. The tears solidify over a period of about 20 days when they are collected by producers who divide them into categories before cleaning them. The final product is then passed to the Chios Mastiha Growers Association. The association are the majority owners of Mediterra, which owns the mastihashop brand. It has franchises all over the world.

What is it traditionally used for?

It has been used since ancient times for both its flavour and therapeutic properties and was recognised in the first century as being useful for indigestion, in chronic coughing and oral hygiene, among other uses.

How has the association been affected by the economic crisis in Greece?

It hasn’t. The association is the sole owner of the mastic exported from Chios, and the product is used in many industries including food, skincare and pharmaceuticals.

Tell me more.

A 2004 study in Atherosclerosis discovered mastic’s potential to protect against atherosclerosis, where arteries become clogged by fat. The ingredients in mastic help prevent LDL cholesterol, known as the “bad” type, from becoming even more dangerous by being oxidised, therefore reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

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