Mastiha is a natural product mysteriously found only on an eastern Mediterranean volcanic island of Chios 3000 years ago. Known since antiquity for its healing effects, Mastiha has been used as an excellent digestive & multifunctional medicament. Harvesting is a very delicate procedure undertaken by experienced workers carriers of a long tradition from father to son. The name of the resin, whence the name of the drink, is derived from the Greek “to chew, to gnash the teeth”.
This explanation was rather hazy in specificity, so I did a bit of research on my own. Mastiha (the h is pronounced as a k) is the resin of a specific kind of evergreen bush found only on one side of the island of Chios. In its powdered form, it is used as a light spice and flavoring in traditional desserts, and is also found in local toothpastes, soaps, liqueurs, cosmetics, and other various common commodities. When found in edibles, it is typically mixed with either salt or fine sugar to keep the sticky resin from reforming into clumps. As mentioned above, it also has been used as a medicine for quite a while, specifically for ulcers and upper intestinal issues. At one time, it was considered to be such a delicacy that the word “masticate,” to chew, is derived from the resin.
(picture and original explanation via)