You might have heard of the Tulsi plant before and some of you know it better then any other herbs in this world. Tulsi or Tulasi is also widely known as Holy Basil. Yes this is correct, the Indian Tulsi is a much stronger flavored and sweeter variation of the common “Italian” Basil. The shrub emits a refreshing aroma which enthralls your senses in an instant. Yet the Tulsi has some more plus points, including some health related advantages. Oh and let’s not forget that the herb has some important religious meanings. The benefits of Tulsi are numerous and one here in India couldn’t imagine living without it. It’s omnipresent!
We have a million Tulsi shrubs growing in our little garden patch. Ok maybe I am exaggerating but there are at least over 50 plants growing individually. Wherever there is little space or where the most of water falls, a new seedling emerges, which in turn has a fast growing rate. In the same time more of those hairy but wonderfully smelling plants emerge. All those Tulsi plants in just 2 years! They are the progeny of our first green Tulsi shrub, which didn’t make the last rains when a mango branch fell on it.
A friend, who usually comes at least once a year to visit us in Goa, was smitten by the vast amounts of green holy basil decorating our garden. She was excited by the freshness and sweetness around her and she proclaimed with her spiritual knowledge, that the plants protect the surrounding and help the garden to stay pure. She is not the only one harboring this belief. In India the Tulsi is considered to be one of the holiest plants. Hinduism teaches us that the herb is the incarnation of the deity Lakshmi.
One thing is crystal clear, the benefits of tulsi are copious! Tulsi has been used in the traditional Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, which proofs again it’s importance in every humans life here. When taken in as a tea, it can assist your health in different ways.
- Tulsi helps you to relax and cope with stress, it soothes your being.
- Tulsi promotes longevity due to the huge amount of included antioxidants in the plant
- Tulsi lowers blood sugar levels and is so suitable for Diabetic Type 2 patients
- Tulsi also decreases Cholesterol levels
Tulsi is known to harbor antibacterial properties and hence the Holy Basil has proofed to cure ailments such as….
- common cold – clears excess mucus and helps in the healing process
- stomachache – soothes indigestion and works as a natural painkiller
- earaches – concentrated Tulsi juice may assist in the healing process
- urinary infection – The slimy Tulsi seeds are known to sooth painful urination
- repairs cells during cancer radiation (Although this still needs to be confirmed!)
- Insect – Poultice of fresh leafs and roots reduces the itching and irritating swelling
Now, we have been hearing here from everybody, locals family members and other Indians, that the Tulsi plant is a natural Mosquito repellant. We, my husband and I completely doubt this! Since we have more Tulsis growing in our garden we have a horde of new born mosquitoes torturing us everyday and mosquitoes are sitting on the tulsi leafs. So what the heck? I believe this might have applied in the past but nowadays I believe insects are much stronger and they might have adapted to natural insect repellants.
You might recall my Falooda article from the past. Falooda is just another name for Basil Seeds and it is in the same time a famous Asian and Middle Eastern beverage. In the article I explained that one could turn those seeds in seconds into slimy tapioca like pearls. The same applies for the Tulsi seeds but since those seeds are much smaller in size, they don’t produce that much of a slimy cover around the core. You can use the Tusli seeds instead of common Basil seeds in Cold Beverages.
But today I decided for my new favorite homemade Ice Tea flavor. You don’t have to guess to know that it is flavored with Tulsi leafs, however I did add some black tea (or you might prefer Green Tea) leafs too, to transform it more into a commercial style Ice Tea, such as the popular Lemon Ice Tea or Peach Ice tea. The heat has still not subsided here and I am a huge lover of Ice Teas. The Tulsi is quite sweet in the tea and I usually don’t add much more sugar but my husband does love an extra sweetness punch. Maybe a note of bitterness can be tasted and a hint of the Italian Basil is coming through and some kind of Mint type as well. Understanding the unique flavor can be a challenge. I ll just say it tastes how a Tulsi is suppose to taste. Maybe you should get a hand on some, taste it and then let us know in the comments section what your experience was.
- handful fresh Tulsi leafs or 1½ Tablespoon dried flaked Tulsi leafs
- 1 Teaspoon Black or Green Tea leafs
- Sugar or Honey to sweeten
- Bring the water to a boil and steep the herbs in water for 5-10 minutes. Strain, sweeten and let it cool a bit before keeping the tea in the fridge for further cooling. Serve with Ice enjoy.