Yogis and yoginis love tea, just check out Anne-Marie’s passionate post on the subject. I must admit that I have always been more of a coffee drinker (really not a good habit!) but have been intrigued by the many varieties of tea that everyone brings to our yoga teacher training weekends to share. One particular tea that I recently tried and really enjoyed was tulsi tea. My friend who supplied this tea tells me that she orders it by the crate as you can’t get it around here! The tea had a mild and earthy flavor and intrigued I decided to find a bit more about this tea.
Tulsi tea is an herbal tea made from the tulsi herb (Ocimum tenuiflorum). The Tulsi plant is both a common and most revered plant in India. It has been around for over 5000 years and is one of India’s most sacred herbs. It is a rich in antioxidants and adaptogenic properties. Antioxidants are known to help prevent damage to cells from free radicals that facilitate the progression of disease. Adaptogens balance different processes in the body and help it to adapt more easily to stress helping to boost the body’s immune system.
Tulsi or holy basil is known by many names. It is called "the Queen of herbs", "the mother medicine of nature", "the incomparable one" and "the elixir of life. It is a small shrub with green or purple leaves that is grown for medicinal use, religious purposes and for its essential oils. There are three varieties; Krishna, Rama and Vana.
Tulsi has an interesting and colorful past. It Hindu tradition, it is regarded as feminine. Tulsi, the goddess is said to have been dear to Vishnu to whom she is married ceremonially each year. Many households in India keep Tulsi plants in a special container adorned with deities. According th the philosophy of Ghandharva tantra, places overgrown with holy basil are ideal for worship.
Tulsi is an important herb in ayurveda (the traditional medicine of India and sister science to yoga that focuses on wellness through a healthy lifestyle). In ayruveda, tulsi is used to treat cold, heart disease, headaches, stomach disorders, poisoning and inflammation. It is often taken in the form of a tea. It also has antibacterial properties that make it suitable for use in herbal skin preparations. Recent studies have shown Tulsi can help to reduce blood glucose levels and is beneficial for treating diabetes.
Health Benefits of Tulsi
- Helps with digestion
- Reduces the effects of stress
- Strengthens the immune system
- Promotes respiratory functioning and health
- Promotes healthy liver function
- Reduces inflammation due to arthritis or other disease
- Helps fight infection
- Promotes longevity
- Promotes a healthy metabolism
Growing Tulsi in your Herb Garden
According to all I have read, Tulsi seed is easy to germinate and grow. It prefers sun, rich soil and lots of water. It can be started indoors in early spring or sown directly into the garden later spring or early summer when the soil is warm enough. Though grown as a perennial in India, it grows as an annual herb in most temperate climates. It also grows well in pots or windowboxes.
Tulsi sounds like an amazing herb with many uses and benefits. I didn’t come across any contraindications although it is always wise to keep in mind that all bodys are different and be sure to listen to yours as you try anything new. It’s a tea that I will definitley add to my expanding tea repertoire and I think I might just try growing it in my herb garden this year. The following quotation sums it up beautifully:
"Leaves, flowers, fruits, root, branches and the main stem and everything about tulsi is sacred; even the soil under the tulsi plant is holy." –excerpt from the Padmapurana, an ancient 5000 year-old healing text from India