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Serve ice cold on a hot summers day and its unique spicy-sweet flavour will pack a refreshing punch that'll have you revitalised and ready to go. Basil may seem like a strange idea for a cold drink but it's surprisingly addictive and its ever-changing purple tones are rather eye-catching. 

 

3 glasses of purple basil drink, one hidden in shade, background shows bunch of basil leaves and centre large ice cube. Afternoon sunlight casts purple shadows on the drinks.

Turkish cuisine and especially Ottoman and dervish cuisine hosts many kinds of beverages and liquid desserts. Some have specific symbolism such as new life and fertility, some boost claims of rejuvenation, most are created as a way to use up gluts of homegrown produce and others are just enjoyed for their unique tastes and colours.

Purple basil is one example of that. It's vibrant hues change with each type of basil used and the concentration of sugar and acid.

Turkish reyhan şerbeti drink with ice cubes floating in traditional glass.

 

 

So far I have discovered three types of 'Reyhan'* or purple basil here in Tukey although (Much like many herbs and spices here) I've never managed to come across any names or descriptions to distinguish them. 

 

1. Sweet 'ish' basil which I think has a very slight clove smell. It has deep all purple leaves and long stems so I presume it grows higher than most. 

Usually, the leaves are rounder in shape but sometimes they appear more spear-like.

I purchased seeds of this type but it's yet to grow at all.

 

2. Rounder leaves that's mostly purple but will distinctive green leaves too that has a gentle cinnamon smell and taste. 

This one is finally starting to bush out in my garden but is struggling Why is growing basil here so hard!!!??!!

 

3. Pointed mixed green & purple leaves that has quite a strong aniseed smell and has quite a spicy bite to it. You really know when you've bought this one!

 

*Not to be confused with the small tiny leaved green basil that packs quite the punch that is interchangeably called Reyhan and Fesleğen (A little pinch on pasta is just yum and a fabulous mosquito repellent by the way!)

 

Bunches of Turkish Reyhan purple basil on white wooden background 

All three are great for making Reyhan serbeti but I think the sugar and spice levels need adjusting for each.

The first for instance you can really get away with less sugar but it needs a whole cinnamon stick to really pull out the flavour.

The third needs a decent sugar hit to balance out its punch and tends to have a much redder colour when stewed. 

I like to a good search around the pazar and if I see different types of the basil in the pazar I like to mix them up for the drink. That way I get the benefits of great flavour and fun colour. That also means yıu should worry if you see a totally different colour to the pictures of if the colour changes each and every time you make the drink this is just part of its appeal.

Large glass bowl with drink ingredients in. Cinnamon sticks in background

 

Making Reyhan şerbeti is so easy, simply gather all the ingredients into a large heat proof bowl and pour on the freshly boiled water. Much like making tisanes, the leaves will stew for around half an hour, or you can leave them until cooled. The sugar and citric acid will disolve and then all you need to do is simply strain off the ingredients and bottle up.

Purple basil sherbet or cooler is best served chilled, ice-cold if your not a Türk (Many of who seem to have an inborn fear of drinking ice cold drinks in the summer (Not the winter though strangely)).

It's a great addition to BBQs and picnics and quite the crowd-pleaser, I've never tried it but I'm sure it could easily be made into a fun cocktail too if you're the experimenting type.

Turkish purple drink in ice cold glass, evening sun setting accross white wooden table to and casting purple reflections

 

 

Purple Basil Sherbet Reyhan Şerbeti

Serve ice cold on a hot summers day and its unique spicy-sweet flavour will pack a punch that'll have you revitalised and ready to go. Basil may seem like a strange idea for a cold drink but it's surprisingly addictive and its ever-changing purple tones are rather eye-catching. 

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Category: Desserts, Drinks & Sweet Treats
Seasons
Cuisine Type Turkish

Ingredients

Turkish Purple Basil Drink

3 Bunches Purple basil
170 Grams Sugar (1 'Su' glass)
1/2 Teaspoon lemon salt/Citric acid) nuggets (Limon Tuzu')
1/2 Stick Cinnamon
2 Whole cloves
3 Litres Boiling water (15 'Su' Glasses)

Purple Basil Sherbet Reyhan Şerbeti Directions

  1. Separate the bunches and wash the basil well.
  2. Place into a large mixing bowl along with the other ingredients.
  3. Pour over the just-boiled water, cover and leave to infuse for at least 30 minutes or until completely cooled.
  4. Strain the drink from the leaves and pour into decanters/bottles.
  5. Chill and serve cold with ice cubes.

Recipe notes

So far I have discovered three types of 'Reyhan' purple basil here in Tukey. Sweet-ish basil with a very slight clove smell, which seems to have deep all purple leaves, usually a rounder shape but sometimes they appear more spear-like.

Rounder leaves that have a mix of green and purple leaves that smells quite cinnamony.

Pointed mixed leaves that has quite a licoricey smell and has quite a spice bite to it.

All three are great for making Reyhan serbeti but I think the sugar and spice levels need adjusting for each. If I see a mixture in the pazar I like to buy them all for a really kicking drink.

Don't worry if the colour changes each and every time you make the drink this is just part of its appeal.

 

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Pinable image of Two glasses of purple sherbet juice set on white dollies. Torn purple basil leaves and ice cubes. The sun casts purple shadows on the white wooden table
Pinnable ingredients for making purple basil drink
Pinnable image for making Turkish basil Drink
 
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