I bought what I thought were bay leaves because they were very cheap. Physically speaking, they behave like bay leaves when cooked (they stay hard even when boiled for along time in a stew). But, I get the feeling they do not give a true bay leaf flavor to the food (or perhaps not any flavor at all). The flavor of bay leaves is sufficiently subtle, though, that I cannot be sure without doing a side by side comparison, which I have not yet had the time for. They are a bit curly along the edges, which bay leaves are usually not, but maybe they're just a different variety that I've not encountered before. So, here's the question: are they bay leaves?

Here is a picture of the questionable leaves:

enter image description here

And here is a picture of what I know to be bay leaves:

enter image description here

  • 1
    As a quick check, you can prepare a "tea" from both (add boiling water, steep for a few minutes) and compare -- that's faster than cooking two stews, and the taste (and smell) ist just bay leaves.
    – Toffomat
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 11:39
  • @J that's because the bottle is a picture of a bottle of bay leaves (the OP says so)! The picture above it is the one with the "fake" bay-leaves.
    – Charleh
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 12:13

2 Answers 2


There are a number of different bay leaves, and the description and picture are consistent with what I've seen called "West Indian" bay leaf.

Regarding price, bay leaves are absurdly expensive at retail... Buying from a local restaurant supplier near me, dried whole bay leaves around $11 a pound and those are not locally grown or processed, just wholesalers.

  • 2
    If you like bay and you have a bit of space you could grow a bay bush, they are hardy and tolerant of different conditions, attractive and the best part is that fresh bay is a wonderful herb!
    – GdD
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 7:42
  • 1
    Where do you store a pound of bay leaves… & how quickly can you get through them? ;-))
    – Tetsujin
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 8:44
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    @GdD and if you get the leaves while they are young and tender (and light green), you can actually chew and eat them -- they taste wonderful
    – Tristan
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 15:11
  • I've never tried that @Tristan, I will have to give that a shot.
    – GdD
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 15:20

These look like bay leaves. Why don't you go for a smell test? Take a few leaves in your hand, crush it and smell them. It should have some hints of floral flavour.

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