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This is my first year growing basil. I'm growing Spicy Bush Globe basil, this year. However, I've found that it doesn't have the licorice-type flavor I'm used to with basil. It tastes like a mix between mint and those spicy gumdrops that are coated in sugar, although the effect after having eaten it is more pleasant than that sounds, I think (and strangely, it makes my tongue a bit numb, and later it makes me salivate in a way that feels pleasant). At first, I was a bit put off by the taste, but I think it's growing on me.

Anyway, I'm looking for a basil variety with a very licorice-type taste, and a not very minty taste (although I know it's in the Mint family). I know there's one called Licorice basil, which is said to have a mild licorice flavor, and there's one called Anise basil, which is also said to have a licorice flavor (potency unspecified). I know there are a lot of basil varieties, and I don't trust implicitly that Licorice basil is the most licorice-like one.

Anyway, do you have any recommendations? Or if the question is too broad (considering the number of basil varieties), do you know if Anise basil has a stronger basil taste than licorice basil?

Thanks!

  • I smelled both Anise and licorice basil yesterday. It turns out that licorice basil smells exactly like licorice. Anise basil smells like a mixture of pineapple sage and anise. I'll have to taste them soon. Cinnamon basil smells like a mixture of basil and cinnamon. – Brōtsyorfuzthrāx Jun 15 '18 at 0:04
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There are two varieties of basil said to have a licorice flavour - Thai basil (Ocimum basilicum thyrsiflorus) and Licorice Basil (O. basilicum 'licorice'). There's a comprehensive list of cultivars here: List of basil cultivars which also describes their flavour.

As for which one tastes most like licorice, well, flavour and taste are subjective, and depends on how many taste buds you have and whether your sense of smell is strong, mediocre or poor. I can't comment personally, I have enough trouble tolerating the mild and ubiquitous version of basil - it's okay torn up fresh and scattered over mozzarella tricolore, but otherwise I dislike it, especially once it's ground or finely chopped, or cooked. Anything involving pesto has me running for the hills...

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My opinion on basil varieties? Thai Basil!! My own husband says 'more minty but with lots of anise taste'. If you haven't tried Thai basil oh my gosh! Beautiful plants. I dried the leaves and had 3 or 4 huge gallon bags of dried Thai basil. We love Thai food and grew this basil and I've been ordered to go plant more...our few starts didn't start very well...anise IS licorice isn't it? I think you will be flabbergasted by this basil's flavor and smell!

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  • Anise and licorice have similar flavor compounds, but they're not closely related. – Brōtsyorfuzthrāx Jul 12 '17 at 1:14
  • Are you that much of a food snob you can tell the difference? Grins. Wish I could just send you some. Even dried this Thai basil is HUGE in what I think you are looking for and I use this basil in my dang Italian sauces! It has taste and smell that is in 4 dimensions versus the normal 2 dimensions of 'normal' basil. I put up 3 or 4 gallon size ziplocks full last year and we are down to maybe 1/4 of one of those bags. That is how good this stuff is! Has anyone given other answers? I'd like to try a few others that aren't the norm. To test how good this Thai Basil is. Beautiful plant! – stormy Jul 12 '17 at 20:13

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