alloumi cheese originated in Cyprus in the Medieval Byzantine period (AD 395 – 1191),[13] and was subsequently eaten throughout the Middle East.

The cheese is white, with a distinctive layered texture, similar to mozzarella and has a salty flavour. It is stored in its natural juices with salt-water and can keep for up to a year if frozen below −18 °C (0 °F) and defrosted to +4 °C (39 °F) before sale. It must be garnished with mint, a practice based on the fact that halloumi keeps better and stays fresher and more flavoursome when wrapped with mint leaves.[citation needed] In accordance with this tradition, all packages of halloumi contain fragments of mint leaves on the surface of the cheese.