Meet Tulsi. When I was in college I worked at New Frontier's Natural Grocer's in the Supplement's department. There, I learned so much about self care. The first plant medicine that really called out to me and made a big impact on my well being was this one, Holy Basil aka Tulsi. The first time I tried it, it was in capsule form and the label said "calm, uplift, and balance," I thought - this is perfect for my wild leo spirit. So I tried it and it really made a difference. I have tried Tulsi in tea, tincture, and infusion form. Teas and infusions are my favorite because I love the taste. It has a light citrus-y sweet anise-basil bright clean floral flavor. Shown right is an infusion which is literally dropping a floret into my water and enjoying it.
You harvest the flower tops when they are very tall (as shown above), but before they brown (as shown below). When they brown is when you can collect seed. At the point that they brown they are a bit to pungent and bitter for tea (in my opinion).
After college, when my life as a gardener went into full swing, I of course wanted to grow my favorite medicinal herb. So I tried seeds from many different catalogs and tried all the different varieties - none of it was right. See, Tulsi was originally cultivated in India, and I knew I would have to get some original homegrown seeds for it to be just right. It took about 5 years for the real deal seeds to come into my life. They arrived while I was working at bloomsorganic farm. One day in 2014, a woman who was born and raised in India gave Rebecca a big bag full of tulsi seeds. Since then, I have been growing and saving seed from this stock.
To harvest you cut just below the floret, there are two leaves at the base and you cut just below (shown below) so that the baby florets can have all the plant energy. Just like sweet basil or genovese basil that are commonly grown. These are big producers so you can get enough tea for one person to enjoy all summer and winter from 1-2 plants. It dries easily too.
In India, Tulsi is grown near the entrance of households as a blessing, similar to how we put the Mezuzah on our doorpost. This year a natural phenomenon occurred and we felt like it was a good sign - tulsi is growing through the cracks in the sidewalk in the center of the steps leading to our door.
Dear Tulsi, we love you!