Tonka Bean Whole

Tonka Bean Whole

[ 1900 ]
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Tonka, also called Tonquin and Kumaru, is a tree in the pea family that is native to Central and South Americas and produces seeds that we refer to as tonka beans.

While the “beans” have a fragrance like a combination of almond, vanilla and cinnamon, they taste quite bitter owing to the presence of coumarin. Although the U.S. FDA prohibits the use of tonka beans as a food additive, it is sometimes found in French cooking. Otherwise, tonka bean is used to make tinctures and extracts to make perfumes, soaps and other cosmetics.

kosher certificate information

quick look

information at a glance
beans to lb
originsouth america
active compoundsCoumarin
plant part usedfruit and seed

buying & keeping

general guidelines and tips
storage tipsStore in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
appearance & aromaWrinkled, nearly-black fruits with a warm, spicy scent.


try something new
cosmeticUse hot water infusions and alcohol tinctures in body care products for scent.
decorativeAdd to potpourri mixtures.
aromaticInfuse or tincture for use in perfumes. The bean may also be incorporated into incense blends.
industrialCoumarin isolated from tonka bean is a precursor to 4-hydroxycoumarin, from which anticoagulant medications such as warfarin are made.

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[ copal oro ]

Combine tonka bean with copal oro resin pieces to smolder over hot charcoal as incense.

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[ orris root ]

Infuse ground orris root with chopped tonka bean to make a scented body powder.

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flavor profile

tonka bean

The warm flavor of tonka bean is highlighted with notes of vanilla and cinnamon.

formulas & recipes

tonka bean

Coming soon.

what else you should know

tonka bean

Tonka bean refers to the almond-vanilla-cinnamon scented seed of a South American tree in the pea family called cumaru (or kumaru), also known as Brazilian Teak. The characteristic odor and flavor of the seed is owing to a compound called coumarin, the name for which is modeled after the French word for tonka bean &mdas; coumarou.

The use of tonka bean as a food additive has been banned in the US since the 1950s when coumarin, a plant chemical also found in lavender, cinnamon and many other herbs and spices, was erroneously associated with having blood-thinning properties (it doesn’t). Previously, however, tonka was used as a substitute for vanilla in cream soda and other beverages, and still lends fragrance to perfumes and flavor to tobacco smoking mixtures.

Surprisingly, the use of tonka in cooking is not very common outside of French cuisine. But French cooks commonly add the fragrant seed to stews and braised foods. It is also frequently paired with chocolate in various sweet desserts, including truffles, ice cream, crème brulee and panna cotta.

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for educational purposes only

This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

please be advised: 
Before making any changes to your diet you should always consult with your doctor,
especially if you are pregnant, nursing or have existing conditions.