There are two types of bay leaves, Indian bay leaves, which are cassia leaves, and the leaf of the bay tree (laurus nobilis). These are the latter. Bay leaves are pungent, resinous, sharp (and bitter, when fresh), and should be used cautiously to create a background note without overpowering all other fragrances. It is wise to use them whole so that the leaf can be removed if it threatens to dominate. Indian bay is much milder and sweeter, and if you are substituting true bay leaves for it, the quantity should be sharply reduced. Bay combines well with most herbs and complements almost any type of food.