Mastic is the brand product of Chios. This unique natural resin of the Chios mastic tree has multiple uses and its production and trade is a main pillar of the local economy. The Chios Gum Mastic Growers Association is the exclusive manufacturer and distributor of natural Chios mastic, both in Greece and abroad.
The mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus) is called “skinos” by the locals and grows all over the Mediterranean. However, the special variety that grows in Chios (Pistacia lentiscus var.chia) is the only one that produces natural resin or mastic. The mastic tree grows only in the south of the island. It is found in the villages Lithi, Vessa, Elata, Mesta, Olympoi, Pyrgi, Armolia, Kalamoti, Patrika, Flatsia, Nenita, Vouno, Koini, Pagida, Katarraktis, Exo Didyma, Mesa Didyma, Mermigki, Tholo Potami, Kallimasia, Neochori, Thymiana, Vaviloi, Agios Georgios Sykousis, which are also called “Mastihohoria”, meaning mastic villages.
The unique experience of the harvest
The mastic harvest is a complicated, laborious process that involves cleaning and soil leveling so that any mastiha drops that may fall on the ground can be easily gathered. The trunk is cut in specific places and the resin starts to flow. In two weeks time it is ready to be collected. The harvest starts in mid August and lasts for about a month. The mastic is then washed and thoroughly cleaned, piece by piece.
Experiencing the mastic cultivation
The mastic tree cultivation and harvest is part of Chios Agritourism. Specialized companies and local association offer visitors the chance to experience various stages of the mastic cultivation.
Mastic is used as gum, aroma and flavour in pastry making and also in the production of the famous mastic liquor. Mastic oil is also used in furniture and musical instruments industry.
Mastic has important qualities for medicine and pharmaceutics, some of which are known since antiquity. In medicine it has been used to treat high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, bronchitis and stomachache. It is also used in the production of surgical threads. In pharmaceuticals, it has been used in vitamin manufacture. It has also been used in dentistry, cosmetics industry, distilleries etc.