This is a wonderful ingredient in many world cuisines. Unfortunately, it is quite delicate and quickly deteriorates with age. Fakes are also on the market so make sure you find star anise with 8 segments. Each of these should contain some nice, shiny seeds.
If you’re on the lookout for fresh star anise, look at the slightly damaged pods. If they are leaking a sort of oil, it’s a good sign that the spice is fresh. Whereas if the stars are too brittle or too dark, it’s old or of poor quality.