How many types of basil are there? It is difficult to give a precise answer to this question because it is a very common plant in the Mediterranean area and in Asia. The types of basil, we can say with certainty, are numerous, but not all of them are used in the kitchen. Furthermore, among the edible ones, there are types of basil that are not suitable for the preparation of dishes, but for the infusion of leaves for herbal teas with beneficial properties. Here are eight types of basil to know and try.
Genoese or Pra' basil
This is the basil used for the unique and original recipe for Genoese pesto. It is grown exclusively in Pra' in Liguria, and has an intense and characteristic aroma with faint recollections of mint. The leaf is oval and convex, light green in colour, and small to medium in size.
Also known as purple basil due to the colour of its leaves, red basil is widely used in Asian cuisine. Its leaves are large, and purple in colour, while the flowers can be purple, white and pink. It has a strong flavour and a slightly spicy aftertaste.
Allso called mountain basil, precisely because it can grow even in cold temperatures, its leaves are green and smooth, with an intense aroma and flavour.
Also called Mexican basil, cinnamon basil has purple flowers and elongated, oblong, and glossy green leaves with violet hues that are placed opposite on the stems. The taste and scent of cinnamon are decisively released by both the flowers and the leaves.
Greek basil, despite its name, is of Indian origin. The plant is similar to a bush, the leaves are small, slightly elongated, and have a very intense green colour. It has an intense aroma and a very delicate flavour.
Originally from India, lemon basil is widely used in Asian cuisine. Its scent can be more or less intense but still recalls the citrus notes of lemon. Its leaves are oval, light green in colour, opposite and never exceeds 2.5 cm.
Thai basil or liquorice
Thai basil is also called liquorice basil. It has dark green leaves and violet stems, its flowers are pink. It has a pleasant citrus aroma with a note reminiscent of anise and licorice.
Tulsi holy basil
This is a bushy Indian plant, its leaves are very fragrant and reminiscent of lemon, mint and licorice. They are ovoid in shape, slightly jagged and thick, with a slightly pubescent surface. Their colour, on the other hand, is more or less intense green depending on the variety.
Discover the characteristics of the main basil varieties in the infographic.