Holy Basil! The Stress Busting Power of Tulsi Tea

Have you ever looked up from your life and wondered at your own resilience?

Do you associate certain self-care habits with your ability to thrive in this modern life? This past year was one of the most personally challenging I’ve yet experienced. Looking back, I’m astonished that the stress of it just sort of bounced right off of me, and I credit some of my seemingly innocuous daily habits with playing a big role in my resistance to stress and its nasty affects.

I’ve been drinking tea made from the tulsi herb for the last year, and I believe this tea has had a significant affect on my well-being. I was looking for a peppermint tea when I found Organic India’s Tulsi Peppermint Tea. The information on the box described tulsi as a sacred, healing herb that fights stress, and the little herbalist in me got excited. Before I get to the health benefits, let me say that this tea is truly delicious. Tulsi has a touch of sweetness that peeks through the true peppermint flavor. The taste and scent are relaxing and refreshing. I’ve been through countless boxes of it now and drink it several times a day.

Tulsi is sometimes called holy basil because it’s part of the basil genus and has spiritual significance in India. It’s widely used in Ayurvedic medicine as a healing herb that clears the body of toxins and restores balance. It lifts spirits (true!) and acts as a serious nerve tonic. Tulsi contains loads of anti-oxidants and phytochemicals that boost the immune system and assist the body’s natural process of healing. Tulsi’s anti-inflammatory properties also make it good for digestive disorders, as does the peppermint in this blend.

But if you ask me, the coolest thing about tulsi is that it’s an adaptogen.

An adaptogen is any herb that supports a systemic resistance to stress and stressors and has a normalizing affect on the body. For example, Asparagus racemosus, or Shatavari in Ayurvedic medicine, is a rejuvenating adaptogen that tends to lower estrogen levels when they are too high and raise estrogen levels when they are too low. Adaptogens help create a state of balance in the body. They are innocuous and do not influence the body more than necessary.

But how can plants be so smart? Well, when all of an herb’s hundreds of molecules are present, they work synergistically to offer long-term balance. This is the opposite of a pharmaceutical drug, which has no way to balance itself or remain innocuous. The tulsi tea I drink uses the whole herb, which allows it to reach its full potential as an adaptogen. I put a lot of stock into this herb and tea. I felt the affects of tulsi long before I actually researched the power of this plant. My body intuitively craved it, which is the true test of efficacy in my book.

Have you tried tulsi? What herbal teas have improved your health?

*This post first appeared in August 2013

28 Responses to “Holy Basil! The Stress Busting Power of Tulsi Tea”
  1. Lily says:

    Isn’t holy basil also supposed to combat sleeplessness? Just another use case to add the list. :)

  2. Laurie says:

    I love reading your excellent posts Susannah! I have tried the Tulsi Peppermint Tea and I really enjoyed it. However, I didn’t drink it long term enough to see the effects. I had no idea that it was an adaptogen, so I will have to buy and drink up. I can attest to the power of adaptogens. A few years ago I saw an Ayurvedic Dr. & she gave me an Ashwangdha complex in a liquid form and like you things seemed to bounce right off of me and I would sleep great (not always an easy thing for me). Just saw that you can even get Holy Basil in a vitamin form too. This is so timely, I’m a teacher and getting geared up for the school year. I drink tea at school all day long, so thanks for info!!! :)

  3. Annette says:

    I have a huge bag of holy basil from Mountain Rose Herbs and a tea strainer thing. Can someone help me with instructions to make tea with the loose herbs? I don’t know how much to use or how long to steep. Thanks so much!

  4. kristina says:

    How frequently do you drink this tea? Do you drink it more in the morning or evening? Any time you want a little pick-me-up?

    I’ve been drinking a few quarts of Mountain Rose Herbs’ “Women’s Balancing Blend” tea. When I drink about a pot most days, I do notice that my menstrual cycle runs more smoothly: I feel calmer, less rage-y, and cramps aren’t quite as severe. Certainly, part of that might be attributable to the increased hydration. But this tea does genuinely seem to help–it doesn’t hurt that it tastes good, too.

  5. Silvy says:

    I drank Tulsi tea all throughout law school, and I have to agree with you! It’s so fantastically warming and energizing too, which for me is great because my body doesn’t tolerate caffeine at all.

  6. @Lily, yep! It does help with sleeplessness. The list goes on…

    @Laurie Thank you!! I loved hearing about your positive experience with adaptogens. This tea would be PERFECT for combatting the stress of a classroom. Hats off to you for being an educator.

    @Annette start with 2 teaspoons of tea leaves per 8 ounces of water and let it steep for 5-10 minutes. I brew for at least 10 minutes so the herbs release their goodness. If it’s too weak, use a tablespoon of leaves the next time. I love to add a bit of manuka honey for sweetness.

    @Kristina I normally drink this tea twice a day—in the afternoon and in the evening. I’ll have to check out the MRH blend you mentioned. I love that company but haven’t tried their teas.

    Just a note to all about safety—plants are potent and powerful! As with any herb, make sure you look into its properties in depth before you begin to consume on a routine basis. Tulsi is not recommended for pregnant women or women trying to get pregnant. It’s not dangerous per se, just not enough is known about it, so best to avoid during that time in your life.

  7. Naomi says:

    Sounds awesome – I’m rushing out to buy some!

  8. Yes! I love tulsi! I feel better when I drink it and I haven’t had any lately. Thanks for the reminder!

  9. Carol says:

    Hi Susannah – this was a wonderful & helpful article about tea – thank you so much! I’ve just been starting to learn this year about herbal teas for balancing stress and peri-menopause symptoms. The two that I have really enjoyed and found most helpful are from Pukka Herbs (found on the ever fabulous Spirit Beauty Lounge) one is called Harmonize and has vanilla, chamomile , hibiscus and licorice root for “balancing” it says in the description. I’ve been letting that steep for 5 minutes and drinking it whenever I feel PMS or hormones but perhaps I should try using it all through the month on a daily basis…hormone shifts are not fun!!!

    My big surprise discovery this morning about Tulsi Leaf was looking at the ingredient list of my other favorite – Pukka Herbs Night Time Tea – knowing it has chamomile, lavender, valerian root and discovering it also includes Tulsi Leaf! I didn’t even realize it had Tulsi Leaf in it! Who knew! I adore the flavor, and I’m so excited now to go and get some of the Tulsi Leaf tea brand you recommended and also I really appreciate you giving details about how long you steep and what time of day you drink it (thanks for asking great questions @Kristina). I highly recommend this Night Time tea blend – I’m trying to drink a cup most evenings before bed, it really really helps for peaceful sleep.

    Thanks again for a VERY informative & wonderful post!

  10. Carol says:

    one more note to my comment a few minutes ago about loving Pukka Herbs Harmonize Tea – after more closely reading the description of the all the ingredients I realized it also has Shatavari in it which you mentioned in your article about being balancing for women, so no wonder the tea is called “Harmonize!”

    Thanks again Susannah for some fabulous info :)

  11. @Carol thank you for the feedback! I’m so glad you found this post informative, and that’s so cool that tulsi was lurking in a tea you already drink. I actually have and love that Night Time blend. Quite a unique flavor and valerian root is an amazing sleep tonic. Btw, Pukka Herbs makes a blend called Three Tulsi, which contains all three varieties of tulsi. I want to try it, too. Enjoy the tulsi!

  12. Carol says:

    Susannah – thanks so much for the tip, I didn’t know Pukka Herbs has a Three Tulsi tea – I will check that out :)

    Btw, I just place an order on the Organic India website for your peppermint Tulsi tea and also am ordering their rose Tulsi tea to try as I love rose in tea (I also drink the Pukka Herbs Love tea with rose in it). I had never heard of Organic India teas before – what a fantastic website – THANK YOU!!!!!

  13. Caroline says:

    Organic India’s Tulsi Rose is sooooo yummy.

  14. cindy says:

    Im going to have to try this tea. I just bought some Matcha from Trader Joes, other than that I like ginger tea.

  15. kristy says:

    I love the Organic India Tulsi teas! The jasmine and the honey chamomile are probably my favorites. I always buy mine at Whole Foods but it looks like they have quite a few more varieties on their website that I’d love to try!

  16. Annette says:

    @Susannah Thank you!

  17. Jessica says:

    I have been taking an adaptogen blend in capsule form (Holy Basil is one of the adaptogens in it!) for the past 4 months, and I really believe I feel a difference. After MUCH research into adaptogens and herb companies I settled on Adrenal Health by Gaia Herbs. Great company, great synergistic blend. I’ll probably take them for a few more months, then take a break.
    I love drinking tea, but I felt like my body needed some intense support after a crazy 1st half of the year! So I settled on capsules that I knew I could easily take, no matter the weather, no matter the mood. :)
    If you’re looking for more info on adaptogens check out Donnie Yance.

  18. meghan carey says:

    I started taking a holy basil supplement about a year ago. After a while, I realized that I was handling the craziness of work better than I had before. I was calm. I truly think it is the holy basil. I’ll definitely be trying the tea now!

  19. Frances@Lila says:

    Tulsi is amazing! I love all the different Organic India tulsi blends, especially the rose one. Tulsi is very good for respiratory health as well. I recently wrote about using tulsi essential oil on my blog because it is one of my go-to remedies: http://lilablog.com/2013/05/06/essential-oil-of-the-week-tulsi/
    Vaishnava’s in India revere tulsi-devi and consider this plant to be a goddess. In the Krishna temples they have a whole elaborate puja/arati to a tulsi plant every morning. Great post.

  20. Joan Bennett says:

    I wonder if it works on people who are naturally very high strung and anxious. Or only on regular folk when they are going through something difficult…

  21. I am a huge fan of Tulsi tea! I have been drinking it for almost a year now and have not suffered from a cold/flu, I sleep well and handle stress well too. Love to use the fresh leaves or organic India tea bags…I even write about it on my blog http://www.chaiacupoflife

  22. Erin says:

    I’m wondering if you could describe how you serve your tea? A friend of mine gave me a box of Organic India Tulsi Honey Chamomile. Just wondering if you add anything besides warm/hot water for flavor?

  23. mandy stavely says:

    I’ve been told you can only take holy basil for 4 weeks then u must take a break for a week what can I take during that week

  24. Terri Corrigan says:

    I have to agree, Tulsi is a fantastic nerve strenthtener. A must when one is feeling frazzled. I notice that Revatilise is not in my local HF shop, Is it no longer available?

  25. Terri Corrigan says:

    Great for frazzled nerves…

  26. I think my whole diet (high nutrient plant based) plays a big part in keeping me sane! I used to be highly stressed until I radically changed my diet. I both care for directly as well as supervise a care team for my husband and my mother who both have advanced dementia. I have an illness too and my skin specialist was only saying the other day that he wonders at my resilience. I think tea plays its part and I love lime and ginger tea and fresh mint tea. I am caffeine free now apart from a couple of cups of weak green tea a day :)

  27. Alice says:

    Tulsi tea is good for health. This is natural cure for cold etc. Daily tulsi tea with honey is good for health.

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