Botanical Recipe: Iced Tulsi Chai Tea

I absolutely love iced coffees, but sometimes it’s nice to have a cold drink that’s not so caffeinated. My sister Dominique tuned me in to Tulsi, which has a nice earthy body to it and holds its own as an iced drink.

Botanical Recipe: try Tulsi Chai as am `iced coffee alternative 

It turns out that the Tulsi herb (also known as Holy Basil) is also pretty good for you. It’s a principal herb of Ayurveda, the ancient Indian holistic practice of healing and wellness. This herb is deeply rooted in Indian culture and is found in many Indian households. 

Tulsi is a good source of magnesium, which is an important mineral for heart health. Magnesium has been shown in a few studies to help with blood vessel functions and to reduce one’s likelihood of developing coronary heart disease. Tulsi is also known as a stress fighter since it could help your body to maintain normal level of cortisol (i.e. the stress hormone) and could lower inflammation in your body with eugenol and linoleic acid.

 Try adding tulsi to your chai blend for a tasty health boost


The herb is loaded with antioxidants too. Antioxidants help to counteract some of those free radicals that contribute to aged skin, and might help to keep your skin looking younger. If you want to try out a Tulsi skincare product, Apoterra has a Tulsi Rejuvenating Oil with Lavender + Evening Primrose.


 I decided to try out an iced Tulsi chai tea latte this weekend. At first I was wondering where I would find Tulsi since I hadn’t heard of it much before and since I don’t have a great loose-leaf tea store near me. I was glad to see that Whole Foods has a line of bagged teas called Organic India that has just straight-up Tulsi in it, so if you have the same concerns, there’s that or it’s very possible other grocery stores might carry Tulsi too. The recipe below turned out really great. I steeped mine for a pretty long time (about 10 minutes) since I like a lot of body in my drinks. The spices and ginger added a really wonderful chai flavor to the drink too. You should try it out as a coffee alternative or just as a way to get more Tulsi into your diet!


Iced Tulsi Chai tea recipe


Makes 1 cup of iced tea


1 piece ginger about the size of a thumb

3 cardamom pods

1 cup water

1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds

3 cloves

1/4 cup fresh Tulsi leaves (compressed firmly when measured), or 3 teabags dried Tulsi (about 1.5 tablespoons)

Raw sugar, honey, or other sweetener to taste

Your choice of milk (half and half, milk, coconut milk, almond milk, etc)


A pinch freshly grated nutmeg



Peel the ginger and roughly cut it into slices. Crush the cardamom pods in a mortar and pestle or using the bottom of a glass on a cutting board.  

iced tulsi chai recipe

 In medium saucepan, add the water, ginger, cardamom, fennel seeds, cloves, and Tulsi.

ginger, cardamon, tulsi, cloves, and nutmeg chai tea

Bring the water to a boil on high heat, then lower the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add raw sugar, honey, or other sweetener to taste. Strain the tea (you could use a fine mesh strainer over a cup or a French press) and let cool. Fill a cup with ice, add tea, add however much milk you’d like, and stir. You can add nutmeg on top too if you’re feeling fancy.


iced coffee alternative: iced tulsi chai with coconut milk


photos/written by Genevieve Caron, MPH

Shop now