Bay leaves

Country of Origin – Turkey

Flavour/Aroma – Subtle elements of menthol eucalyptus, tea, pepper and pine with a little bitterness

Chilli heat – None

Ingredients – 100% whole dried Laurus nobilis.  This should not be confused with Mexican Bay leaf, Litsea glaucecens because it is a totally different plant.  The flavour of European bay is much more intense. As a result, you will need to cut the quantity of European Bay in half to substitute it for Mexican bay in recipes.

Uses in Mexican cooking – Secret ingredient in restaurant refried beans

Uses in Fiesta Manana recipe kits

Shredded chilli beef spice kit


Bay leaves come from an evergreen shrub, Laurel nobilis that is by and large native to the hottest parts of the Mediterranean.  The leaves are harvested and dried in the shade.


The ancient Greeks were the first to use bay as a seasoning but they also venerated the plant. In Greek legend Apollo attempted to take the nymph Daphne against her will.  The gods transformed her into a Laurel tree to protect her honour.  Accordingly, Laurel became a symbol of honour. Consequently the Romans created floral crowns or wreaths of Laurel to celebrate honour and success.  Artworks of leading Romans and specifically Emperors, show them wearing Laurel wreathes.

The ancients believed that the plant had mythical qualities.  In legend, the Oracle of Delphi chewed bay leaves to induce a trance to allow her to see visions of the future.

In the medieval period people believed the plant could terminate the pregnancies of babies conceived out of wedlock. This was to protect the honour of families.  Bay leaves had many uses medicinally and was believed to help prevent seizures.

Health and nutrition

Essential oils – The most important essential oil is Eucalyptol, it is this that produces its distinctive floral and menthol aroma.  Aromatherapists use the oil in many applications.

Health benefits – Bay has been scientifically observed to provide the following benefits

1 – It can help people to manage Type 2 Diabetes because it has been shown to reduce glucose and cholesterol levels in the blood [source]

2 – The leaves can help to reduce Urease, the substance in our bodies that create kidney stones [source]

3 – Dentists regularly use products containing the oil combined with zinc oxide in dental treatments