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Thai Basil

Thai basil is a cultivated variety of sweet basil. It is designed to possess certain qualities, like being able to stand long exposure to heat during cooking without compromising the ability to render flavor to the food, and producing specific flavors close to the taste of anise and licorice with added spiciness to it.

Having Thai basil has a lot of upsides since it has culinary and decorative purposes. Another upside to having Thai basil around is its ability to make the air smell fragrant and fresh.

Classification Information:
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Ocimum
Species: O. basilicum
Variety: Ocimum basilicum var. thyrsiflora

Thai Basil Trivia

  • Because of its taste, Thai basil is also sometimes called anise basil or licorice basil.
  • It is ironic that in Thailand, the preferred basil for many chicken, pork, and seafood dishes is not Thai basil but holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum).

Thai Basil Buying Guide

There are many types of basil but when you go out to buy, there is a very good chance that what you’ll see in the market or farm stand are the two most popular basils: the sweet basil and the Thai basil. So how do you know which is which?

Thai basil has purple stems with leaves that are narrower and perkier compared to sweet basil. Also, the smell of Thai basil is anise while sweet basil smells of pesto, so make sure to get a good whiff of the herb before buying to make sure it is Thai basil or sweet basil. Lastly, Thai basil is the spicier of the two, but you only get to know this once you are at home and have used the herb on a dish you just cooked.

Thai Basil Production & Farming in Texas

If you are planning on growing your Thai basil plant, you can get started using any of the three possible options: grow from seed, use root from cuttings, or buy a plant. Thai basil is very flexible since you can grow it inside an indoor garden, on an outdoor garden, or inside containers. Thai basil needs exposure to full sun. On the ground, Thai basil thrives well when planted in rich, well-draining soil with a pH ranging from 6.5 to 7.5.

Because Thai basil thrives in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11 only, this means in Texas, some locations are better than others. Corpus Christi and Laredo are Zone 9A while McAllen is Zone 9B. The rest qualifies as Zone 6, 7, or 8. While planting Thai basil is not impossible in these areas, greater care and more effort are required to keep Thai basils healthy and alive especially when the cold season sets, requiring artificial sources of heat to make sure the temperature remains amenable to the Thai basil. 


If you are growing Thai basil, watch out for three common pests that attack this plant: Japanese beetles, aphids, and slugs. 

  • Against aphids, there is a wide variety of choices; horticultural oil, neem oil, or insecticidal soaps.  
  • Against Japanese beetles, you can use insecticides containing any of the following: carbaryl, cyfluthrin, lambda cyhalothrin, malathion (which also kills aphids), pyrethrin, permethrin, rotenone (which kills aphids too), and spinosad.
  • For slugs, you can use slug bait or copper tape.


Thai basil is common in Southeast Asia and in countries where there is a dense population of people of Southeast Asian descent, however, the real origin of Thai basil remains in dispute; some say it came from Southeast Asia while others believe it originated from Iran or India. Regardless, several locations worldwide today are known to grow Thai basil on a commercial scale as a response to the continuously growing demand for this herb. In the US, there is a specific Thai basil cultivar typically grown here, known as the Siam Queen, which is considered superior to Thai basil.  


The packaging is important to make sure that the product/produce is clean, able to maintain the standard quality required by law, protected from any threats that can affect or damage the product. For Thai basil, the packaging varies depending on what form of Thai basil you are looking for: live plant, freshly-cut leaves, dried leaves, powdered leaves, or seeds. 

Live plants are typically sold as potted plants. Sometimes, you can buy a Thai basil plant in a nursery bag which you have to transfer to a pot or other more stable container later on. This is ideal especially if you are planning to plant it on the ground; some nursery bags are eco-friendly biodegradable bags which means there is no need to separate the plant and soil from the bag. Sometimes, you’d also find surprising or unusual packaging used for selling Thai basil, like using plastic drinking cups.  

For freshly-cut and freshly-packaged Thai basil leaves, these are usually placed inside a plastic transparent clamshell container that allows the buyer to inspect the item inside. Dried and powdered leaves as well as the seeds sealed come in sealed packs. Sometimes, powdered Thai basil leaves are also sold in bottles.

Enjoying Thai Basil

To enjoy the full flavor of Thai basil, best to eat it raw. Slice some cucumber and tomatoes which pair well with Thai basil and make a good vegetable salad, but if you want something meatier, then you can add Thai basil to the traditional meat-and-herbs salad Thai larb. 

When serving the traditional Vietnamese phở, bún bò Huế, or bánh xèo, it is customary to serve the Thai basil on a separate dish. This allows the person who is eating the food to be able to season it using Thai basil depending on how much anise flavor he or she wants on his/her food.


You can put freshly-cut Thai basil leaves in the refrigerator. Put these inside a plastic bag or wrap it in a paper cloth or towel before putting it inside the refrigerator to extend the freshness of the leaves. If you have a freezer bag, put the leaves inside and store it in the freezer, but first, make sure the leaves are washed thoroughly and dried well. Another way of freezing it is by putting it in ice cube trays filled with water.  

You can dry it too if you want to store it for future use. Flash-dry it by putting it inside a microwave and heating for 20 seconds (shorter or longer depending on the condition of the leaves) and once it is brittle, you can crush it and put it inside an herb bottle or any container with a lid. Place the container somewhere cool, dry, and away from direct sunlight. Another drying technique is to spread the Thai basil leaves out on a drying screen and then place this in a warm, dry room to allow it to completely dry. Make sure to turn the leaves every two days to make sure these dry out evenly. You’ll know these are completely dry when they turn brittle.


The signature taste of the very popular Taiwanese dish three-cup chicken or sanbeiji is influenced by the use of Thai basil. If you have Thai basil to work with, you can also try cooking other dishes that make good use of the strengths of Thai basil as a flavoring agent, like Thai coconut milk curry, Taiwanese braised eggplant, Thai basil chicken, or Thai tofu. Experiment on your stir fry recipe and toss Thai basil in for a new experience.


Eating Thai basil allows the body to absorb the vitamins, minerals (potassium, manganese, and magnesium), and other essential nutrients found in this particular herb. The body also benefits from Thai basil’s natural anti-cancer, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties.

  • Calcium: 177mg 
  • Iron: 3.17mg
  • Potassium: 462mg
  • Sodium: 4mg

Nutritional Benefits:

Thai basil has vitamin A. This can help us maintain healthy eyes and skin. Thai basil also has high levels of vitamin K, which helps the body produce blood clotting factors so that wounds heal faster. This also helps increase bone strength. The iron in this herb helps the body produce hemoglobin. The body also benefits from absorbing essential oils found in Thai basil, like eugenol and limonene. Regular consumption of Thai basil can help alleviate rheumatoid arthritis, decrease the chances of getting cancer, and fight bacterial infections.



  • Serving Size: 5 Leaves, (2.5g)
  • Calories: 0.6 0.1
  • Carbs: 0.1g 0%
  • Sugar: 0g 0%
  • Fiber: 1g 0%
  • Protein: 0g
  • Fat: 0g 0%
  • Saturated Fat: 0g 0%
  • Trans Fat 0g 0%
  • Cholesterol 0mg 0%
  • Sodium 0.1mg 0%
  • Vitamin C 0.8%
  • Vitamin A 2.6%
  • Calcium 0.3%
  • Iron 0.4%
  • Potassium 7.4mg 0%
  • Vitamin K 10.8mcg
  • Vitamin B6 10%
  • Magnesium 16%

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