In Basket: May 2010

tulsi chai

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Dear Herb Companion,

I have the elusive chocolate basil plant. I purchased it last year from a local nursery, Forget-Me-Not Garden Center in Lima, Ohio. The leaves are a deep green color and when the leaves are crushed there is a chocolate aroma. When children visit, they seem really fascinated by it.

—Kelli Roberson, Ada, Ohio

We asked Kelli for a cutting of her plant. As of press time, we hadn’t heard back, though. We’ll keep you posted! —Eds.

Reader Reaction

Ren LeVally put his own twist on our recipe for Tulsi Chai from the January 2010 article “Chai Times.” He featured his version of the tea on his healthy cuisine blog Edible Aria ( ). To try his version, visit for the recipe. Ren’s photo above shows how his adaptation turned out.

DIY Anti-Aging Cream Tips

I have a question regarding a recipe in your March 2010 article, “5 Fresh-Face Treatments.” I made up a batch of the Anti-Aging Cream, but the consistency is anything but “creamy.” It is liquid at room temperature and solid if I refrigerate it. Is this the way the product is intended to be?

—Sylvia Newberry, Heartland, Vermont

You can experiment with the ingredients—for a thicker cream, add more cocoa butter and for a thinner cream, add more olive oil. While concocting your dream cream, keep your preferred storage method in mind. It will impact the consistency, as you discovered. —Janice Cox

I have a question regarding your March 2010 article, “5 Fresh-Face Treatments.” Could you please tell me how to store the Anti-Aging Cream and what its shelf life is?

—Susan Rieder, Park Ridge, Illinois

Store the cream in a clean container with a tight-fitting lid and place in a cool, dry cupboard. The shelf life is about six to eight weeks. —Janice Cox

Herbal Groundcovers

I love the idea of herbal groundcovers from your March 2010 article, “5 Reasons to Plant Herbal Groundcovers.” However, only one scented groundcover listed is for Zone 4. What else is available for Zones 3 and 4?

—Robin Kennedy, Alpha, Michigan

I recommend oregano (Origanum vulgare) and lemon balm (Melissa officinalis). Oregano is great for Zone 3 and has highly aromatic leaves. Lemon balm is good for Zone 4 and is lemon-scented. —Chris McLaughlin 

Careful Cooking

In your November 2009 article, “Grow, Cook, Heal with Elder,” you included a recipe for Elderflower Liqueur. Aren’t elderberry flowers toxic?
—Al Karim, via e-mail

Elderflowers and ripe elderberries of the North American variety Sambucus canadensis and its European relative S. nigra are among the few nontoxic parts of this plant. According to Medline Plus (a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health), the leaves, seeds and unripened fruit of elder are potentially toxic. It is important to strictly follow a recipe when cooking with elder and make sure you’re using only the dark purple, ripe berries. —Eds.  


Debbie Romano from White Plains, New Jersey, pointed out that we misspelled the word “tolnaftate” in our January 2010 issue. In “Tea Tree Oil: The Skin Elixir,” we mistakenly referred the athlete’s foot drug as “tolnaflate.” —Eds.