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Like some other herbs like thyme,oregano and rosemary for example,basil doesn't "strip" as well when holding the stem and pulling towards the root end.

It does take a bit of time to pick the leaves,but not really that long.

Using only the leaves is the way to go, as far as only using the "tender" leaves,i wouldn't worry about that.

When basil is super fresh and not started to bud the flavor will be consistent throughout the herb.
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