What Does Basil Taste Like? The King Of Herbs


The Basil or Ocimum basilicum, also called great basil or Saint-Joseph’s wort, is a culinary herb in the family of mints. They are also considered “king of herbs” and “royal herb”. It is native to India and for more than 5,000 years has been cultivated there. The word basil means “king” in Greek. Basil is known to be a culinary herb featured in some Asian Countries like Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia, to mention a few. This article will talk about the taste and other information about Basils.

Taste Of Basil

basil on cutting board

Basil is associated with a strong, pungent and sweet smell. It has a peppery taste, and there are over 60 varieties of basil with differences in flavor. Basil is used for adding flavor to various types of food such as Presto.

Click What Does Oregano Taste Like to explore another popular ingredients.

Some Varieties And Taste Of Basil

fresh basil
  • Sweet Basil – Popular in pestos and are the most commonly found in grocery stores. It is medium green in color with rounded cup-shape leaves.
  • Genovese Basil – It has large green leaves. Genovese is flatter compared to sweet basil. It has stronger and more aromatic flavor among the other basils.
  • Thai Sweet Basil – Smaller and darker pointed leaves. It is spicy and licorice in flavor. These types of basil are best used at high cooking temperatures.
  • Purple Basil – It has a striking and dark burgundy color. Purple basil is not very sweet compared to other types of basil. It usually has larger leaves reaching up to 18 inches tall.
  • Lemon Basil – It can grow between 12 to 18 inches and has lighter green leaves. Lemon basil is use in fish, grilled vegetables or teas. It can release a lemony scent and taste.
  • Lime Basil – It can grow between 16 to 24 inches. Lime basil is used in sauces and desserts. They make good dishes together with the Lemon Basil.
  • Lettuce Basil – It has a large, floppy and wrinkled leaves. It is best when used in salads and fresh dishes. Lettuce basin can grow between 6 to 10 inches tall.
  • Green Ruffles – It can grow between 20 and 24 inches. Green Ruffles are usually used in salads. It is mild in flavor and delicate.
  • Holy Basil – Meaning “incomparable one” in Asia. It has a great fragrance with a spicy and sweet musky scent. Also used to treat stomach aches and helps in circulation of blood.
  • Cinnamon Basil – Also strong in smell and a bit spicy. It also has a milder taste and goes well with the Cinnamon Basil. Used in fried rice, salads or noodles.
  • African Blue Basil – It can grow up to 48 inches long. It has a scent of peppers, cloves, mint and camphor. Used in different dishes.
  • Greek Basil – Can grow only 8 inches and considered to be the smallest among the basil varieties. It is often used in salads, soups or meat dishes to spice the flavor up.
  • Spicy Globe Basil – It has a strong spicy flavor and is used to serve in soups, salads and pasta. Also called the Spicy Bush Basil because it is short and has smaller leaves.
  • Summerlong – It grows in tight and compact bushes. It has a similar taste with sweet basil. Also used in pestos, sauces and marinades.

Each of these varieties of Basil produces different kinds of flavor. They are different in appearances and uses, thus making the Basil Family a diverse one.

Uses Of Basil

basil in bowl
  • Acne treatment
  • Improve alertness
  • Cure for loss of appetite
  • Relieves Stomach spasms
  • Improve blood circulation

Basil Facts and Trivia

thai basil

Basil is spread all over Asia, Africa and America. It was originally used as a condiment for food, medicine and cosmetics. Hindu cultures consider Basil as a sacred plant. Basil is a sign of love and devotion among young couples.

There are several benefits of Basil such as reducing stress and anxiety, it helps the body adapt to stress and considered to be an adaptogen. Basils also contain oils which are essential for medicine and chemical industry. It is often cultivated for ornamental purposes.

Both the flower and the leaves are edible. Leaves are the most used part because they are rich in essential oils and gives a particular flavor to the variety. Basils can also repel insects and have known to be toxic for mosquitoes. They are known to finish their life cycle in one year.

Another herb we suggest getting to know about is tarragon, click What Does Tarragon Taste Like.

In Conclusion

Basils are herbaceous plants. They belong to the mint family. They had originated from India 5,000 years ago. The taste of basils differ from each variety and is usually named right after the taste. Some basil species grow up to 48 inches long while others can only grow up to 8 inches. The term “basil” literally means “kingly plant” in Greek.

About the Author Emily Taylor

My name is Emily Taylor, gardening is my passion and I’m looking forward to sharing it with everyone. I know that there are millions of people out there want their backyard and garden be attractive just like their front yard, so I am here to help you create your own backyard paradise.

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