Italian Basil VS Thai Basil What is the difference?

Monica asked this question on a recipe post and I thought hmm, perfect question for PPPP ! So here is what I found:
The Greek name for basil means "king", which shows how highly it has been regarded throughout the ages. Sweet basil (Italian) is a sun-loving annual with highly aromatic leaves that has a pleasant spicy odor and taste somewhat like anise or cloves. Both the leaves and their essential oils are used as flavoring agents. There are many different types of sweet basil – large and dwarf forms, with green, purple, or variegated leaves. Many of these widely grown plants are ornamental, as well as edible. Mint and basil are cousins.
Thai basil is the sweeter of the two and grows on purplish stems, topped with pretty, reddish purple flower buds. The flowers are edible and both leaves and flowers are sweetly perfumed with a mix of a distinctly basil scent--that of anise or licorice. As such, it is sometimes referred to as "anise basil" or "licorice basil," but are not to be confused with the Western version. *Are Thai and Sweet Basil Interchangeable?
When developing Thai-style recipes, we've run tests to see if Thai basil can be replaced with the much more available sweet (Italian) basil. The answer in all cases is a resounding no; these herbs have very different flavors. Thai basil, which can be identified by its purple stem, has a stronger flavor and aroma--we detected hints of licorice, cinnamon, and mint. If you can't find Thai basil in your supermarket, we recommend substituting mint, not sweet basil. But on another site a different Chef said YES they are interchangeable, just use less thai basil because it is stronger. So Monica I hope this helped answer your question and I guess you will just have to taste and cook with them both to decide for yourself ! Happy Cooking sweetie !
2 Comments
MonisiaH
Monica H - Aug 29, 2011
Angela; you rock!! Thank you for clearing that up! I would have never guessed those differences...especially in the individual tastes. I will be picking up some Thai basil next time I get on over to the big city and hit up some Asian markets.
angiemath
Angela Gray - Aug 29, 2011
Your so welcome Monica, I enjoyed learning about them also ! Thanks for the great question, hope you are enjoying your Mon. hugs