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How to Grow and Prepare Chamomile for Tea. Chamomile tea has a subtle herbal taste and is famously used as a sleep aid and to calm upset stomachs. Two types of chamomile are commonly planted in herb gardens: German chamomile (Matricaria recutita), a robust annual that grows to about 2 feet tall and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), a petite perennial. When growing chamomile for tea, use German Chamomile which produces an abundance of apple scented, daisy-like flowers. Here is how to prepare it.
Plant German chamomile seedlings outdoors in spring after all danger of frost has passed in a spot with full sun and well-drained, fertile soil. One plant will produce about 3 to 6 cups of flowers (when dried), so plant accordingly. Seedlings are commonly available in spring at well-stocked nurseries or you can see Resources below for a mail order source of seedlings.
The plant typically begins to bloom in mid-summer and continues blooming into fall. Pinch off the blossoms the day they open. These young flowers not only have the best flavor, by removing them you also encourage the plant to bloom more. Get in the habit of checking for new blooms once a day and harvesting them. From my experience, 2 cups of fresh blooms dry down to about ¼ cup.
Immediately after harvest, bring the blossoms indoors and spread them out in a single layer on craft paper. Dry the blossoms in a spot that is indoors, warm and out of direct sunlight.
Allow the blossoms to fully dry (they should crumble easily when rubbed between your fingers). When dry, place them in a glass jar with a lid or in a brown paper bag. Store the chamomile in a dark, cool spot for up to one year.
To prepare tea, pour 8 oz. of boiling water over 2 tbsp. of dried chamomile blossoms. Allow the blossoms to steep for 4 to 5 minutes, then strain the tea into a tea cup. Add honey and a thin slice of lemon, if you like.
- Growing Chamomile Tea: Making Tea From Chamomile Plants
- Chamomile Tea Benefits
- Chamomile Tea Plant Info
- How to Grow Chamomile Tea
- What are the risks of taking chamomile?
- The History of Chamomile Tea
- The History of Chamomile Tea
- What are the benefits of chamomile tea?
- What is Chamomile herbal tea?
Chamomile readily self-seeds, so you will most likely only need to purchase seedlings once!
Growing Chamomile Tea: Making Tea From Chamomile Plants
There’s nothing like a soothing cup of chamomile tea. Not only does it taste good but chamomile tea has a number of health benefits as well. Plus, there is something so calming about the process of making tea from chamomile you’ve grown yourself. If you’ve never thought about growing your own chamomile tea plant for tea brewing, now’s the time. Chamomile is easy to grow and thrives in a variety of areas. Read on to find out how to grow chamomile for tea.
Chamomile Tea Benefits
There’s no wonder that a cup of chamomile tea soothes the soul. Not only does it have mild sedative properties, but has been used for centuries for its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-allergenic uses as well.
Chamomile has also been used to treat stomach cramps, irritable bowels, indigestion, gas, and colic as well as menstrual cramps, hay fever, rheumatic pain, rashes, and lumbago. The herb has been used as a salve for hemorrhoids and wounds, and the steam inhaled to treat cold symptoms and asthma.
Many people drink chamomile tea to reduce their anxiety and to aid in sleeping. Really, an amazing list of health benefits has been attributed to just one cup of chamomile tea.
Chamomile Tea Plant Info
Chamomile comes in two types: German and Roman chamomile. German chamomile
is an annual, bushy shrub that grows up to 3 feet (91 cm.) in height. Roman chamomile is a low growing perennial. Both produce similar aromatic blooms, but German is the more commonly grown for use in teas. Both are hardy in USDA zones 5-8. When it comes to growing chamomile for tea, either will work.
German chamomile is native to Europe, North Africa and areas of Asia. It has been used since the Middle Ages and throughout ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt for a plethora of ailments. Chamomile has even been used to naturally lighten hair and the flowers can be used to make a yellow-brown fabric dye.
How to Grow Chamomile Tea
Chamomile should be planted in a sunny location with at least 8 hours per day of direct sun, but not scorching sun. Chamomile will thrive in average soil and can be grown directly in the ground or in containers.
Chamomile can be grown from nursery transplants, but it also germinates quickly and easily from seed. To sow seeds, prepare the planting area by raking it level and removing any weeds. The seeds are extremely tiny, so guard them from any gusts of wind or you will have chamomile everywhere.
Scatter the seeds onto the prepared soil bed. It’s okay if the seeds aren’t evenly distributed since you will have too thin the bed soon anyway. Gently press the seeds into the soil with your fingertips. Don’t cover them; chamomile seeds need direct exposure to sunlight to germinate.
Mist the planting area until damp. Keep the area damp during germination, which should take about 7-10 days.
Once the seedlings are up, you will notice that they are a bit crowded. It’s time to thin them. Choose seedlings that are weak looking to remove and space the remaining seedling at about 4 inches square (10 sq. cm.) apart from each other. Use scissors to snip those you are removing rather than pulling them from the soil. That way, you won’t be disturbing the roots of the remaining seedlings.
Thereafter, the plants require almost no attention; just water them when they look droopy. If you scratch a little compost into the plot in the spring, they shouldn’t even need any fertilizer. If you plant chamomile in containers, however, it might benefit from a little organic fertilizer every third watering.
In no time at all you will be making tea from your own homegrown chamomile which you can use either fresh or dried. When making tea from dried flowers, use about 1 teaspoon, but when brewing tea from fresh flowers, uses twice that amount.
What are the risks of taking chamomile?
- Side effects. Most experts say chamomile is safe. It can cause drowsiness and, in large doses, vomiting. It also has the potential to trigger allergic reactions in people who are allergic to related plants in the daisy family, although such reactions are very rare. Avoid it if you are allergic to these plants: chamomile, ragweed, daisies, marigolds, or chrysanthemums. Skin creams with chamomile can cause allergic eczema and irritate the eyes. The effects of long-term chamomile use aren’t known.
- Risks. Check with your doctor before using chamomile if you have any health problems. Chamomile contains a small amount of coumarin, which may have very mild blood thinning effects, but usually just in high doses for long periods of time. Stop using chamomile two weeks before surgery due to concerns about its possible interactions with anesthetic drugs.
- Interactions. If you take any drugs regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using chamomile supplements. They could interact with sedatives, blood thinners, antiplatelet drugs, aspirin, NSAID painkillers like ibuprofen and naproxen, and other drugs. Chamomile could also interact with supplements like ginkgo biloba, garlic, saw palmetto, St. John’s wort, and valerian.
Given the lack of evidence about its long-term safety, chamomile is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Talk to a pediatrician before giving chamomile to infants and children.
The History of Chamomile Tea
April 16, 2018
The History of Chamomile Tea
Chamomile is old school. It’s been used since ancient times. Both the Egyptians and the ancient Romans used chamomile in tea, salves, creams, incenses and other beverages. In Egypt, chamomile was prescribed as a cold remedy. In the modern era, nighttime chamomile tea is a staple for inducing sleep. Recent studies have supported the efficacy of chamomile for cold prevention, sleep induction, and other ancient applications.
While there are several varieties of chamomile, two are used most frequently for tea today: Roman and German. Both have been used historically to remedy a variety of health concerns. Roman chamomile is native to Europe, North Africa, and some parts of Asia, and was named by a 19th century botanist who found some growing by the Roman Colesium. Despite being different species, the tiny daisy-like flowers of both German and Roman look quite similar and have similar uses and effects. One key difference is that Roman chamomile is a perennial plant and German chamomile is an annual, meaning that it dies each year and needs to be replanted. The differences are also important when it comes to taste: Roman chamomile tends to be bitter when used in tea, whereas German chamomile is sweeter. It’s also used less frequently since it’s harder to find and doesn’t grow as widely.
Roman chamomile is what you’ll find most frequently in your tea. The Herbal Research Foundation estimates that over 1 million cups of chamomile are consumed worldwide each day, so there’s a lot of Roman chamomile being turned into tea!
All types of chamomile contain the same volatile oils which contain great health properties. Key oils include: bisabolol, bisabolol oxides A and B, and matricin, as well as flavonoids like apigenin and other therapeutic substances. Chrysin is also a flavonoid fond in chamomile, and has been found to reduce anxiety in rat studies.
Chamomile is considered a drug in the pharmacopeia of 26 countries today; it’s definitely powerful stuff! While most widely recognized as a sleep-inducing agent, it the variety of flavonoids and other substances can induce other health-related effects.
Two of the key active substances in chamomile are apigenin and chrysin. Apigenin is found in alcohol and the adaptogen bacopa in addition to chamomile, and can reduce anxiety and cause sedation. It’s also a very powerful anti-cancer compound and beneficially protects against many cancers. Chrysin reduces anxiety and can be used as a mild sedative.
In addition, animal studies have shown that chamomile reduces inflammation, speeds wound healing, reduces muscle spasms, alleviates hemorrhoids, reduces depression, and provides antibacterial support. Chamomile is another one of those jack-of-all-trade substances that can be widely used to solve a variety of problems.
How We Use It
Chamomile’s benefits are so powerful that we’ve decided to combine this incredible flower with a handful of amazing adaptogenic herbs to create a phenomenal tea for sleep, Orange Dreamsicle. With subtle notes of orange and cream, this “sleepwise” tea is the perfect elixir to help your mind and body completely relax before bed or any other zen-fueled activities. If you’d like to try it out use the code CHAMOMILE for a 10% discount on the Orange Dreamsicle sleepwise tea blend. Drink healthy and stay wise.
Orange Dreamsicle: Sleepwise Tea
Avallone R, Zanoli P, Puia G, et al. Pharmacological profile of apigenin, a flavonoid isolated from Matricaria chamomilla. Biochem Pharmacol. 2000;59(11):1387-1394.
German Chamomile. University of Maryland Medical Center: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Guide. 2015.
Gyllenhaal C. Efficacy and safety of herbal stimulants and sedatives in sleep disorders. Sleep Med Rev. 2000;4(2).
What are the benefits of chamomile tea?
The potential benefits of chamomile tea, for which there is the most evidence, include:
1. Reducing menstrual pain
Several studies have linked chamomile tea to reduced severity of menstrual cramps. A 2010 study, for example, found that consuming chamomile tea for a month could reduce the pain of menstrual cramps. Women in the study also reported less anxiety and distress associated with period pain.
2. Treating diabetes and lowering blood sugar
Again, some studies have found that chamomile tea can lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. Research does not show that chamomile is a viable substitute for diabetes medications, but it may be a helpful supplement to existing treatments.
Similarly, a 2008 study of rats found that consistent consumption of chamomile tea might prevent blood sugar from increasing. This effect reduces the long-term risk of diabetes complications, suggesting that chamomile could improve diabetes outcomes.
3. Slowing or preventing osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is the progressive loss of bone density. This loss increases the risk of broken bones and stooped posture. While anyone can develop osteoporosis, it is most common among post-menopausal women. This tendency may be due to the effects of estrogen.
A 2004 study found that chamomile tea might have anti-estrogenic effects. It also helped promote bone density, but the study’s authors caution that further research is needed to prove this apparent benefit.
4. Reducing inflammation
Inflammation is an immune system reaction to fight infection. Chamomile tea contains chemical compounds that may reduce inflammation. However, long-term inflammation is linked to a wide range of health problems, including hemorrhoids, gastrointestinal pain, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, and even depression.
5. Cancer treatment and prevention
Some studies suggest that chamomile tea may target cancer cells, or even prevent those cells from developing in the first place. However, research so far is inconclusive, and scientists say more work is needed to prove chamomile’s anti-cancer claims. Also, most research has looked at clinical models in animals, not humans.
A 2012 study compared the cancer-fighting powers of marigold and chamomile teas. Both were able to target cancer tumors selectively, but the effects of marigold tea were more potent.
6. Helping with sleep and relaxation
Share on PinterestChamomile tea is thought to help people fall asleep.
Chamomile tea is widely thought to help people relax and fall asleep. Few clinical trials have tested this, however.
In one review of the current evidence, 10 of 12 cardiovascular patients are quoted as having fallen asleep shortly after consuming chamomile tea. A handful of other studies looking at clinical models also suggest that chamomile tea may help people relax.
In a study using rats, chamomile extract helped sleep-disturbed rodents fall asleep. Many researchers believe that chamomile tea may function like a benzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines are prescription drugs that can reduce anxiety and induce sleep. Some research suggests that chamomile binds to benzodiazepine receptors.
A review looking at the ability of chamomile tea to reduce anxiety is inconclusive. Some studies show a modest anti-anxiety benefit, but others do not.
7. Treating cold symptoms
Anecdotal evidence and some studies suggest that inhaling steam with chamomile extract can relieve some of the symptoms of the common cold. But this benefit is not proven yet.
8. Treatment for mild skin conditions
A small 1987 study found that applying chamomile extract directly to a wound assisted healing. Likewise, a few studies have found that chamomile ointments may help with eczema and mild inflammatory skin conditions, although they are not as effective as hydrocortisone cream.
What is Chamomile herbal tea?
The name ‘Chamomile’ comes from the Ancient Greek words kamai (earth) and melon (apple). It’s an apt description: these delicate flowers thrive in almost any soil and have a sweet apple-like scent. A close cousin of the daisy, Chamomile’s yellow flower heads and white petals follow the sun across the day. Our Chamomile is grown on the plains of Eastern Croatia, where the flowers get more than their fair share of sunbathing done: whole fields are blanketed in gold by the thriving plants.
Once the flower heads are picked, they are kept whole and slowly dried to ensure the best possible flavour. The small golden blossoms are packed with a wealth of health benefits: chamomile has been used for medicinal purposes since the Ancient Egyptian times, where it was revered for having healing properties and was even used as a skincare cosmetic, a tradition that continues to this day in the form of hair oils and face washes.
Like our other herbal teas, Chamomile is not a ‘true tea’ in the sense that it does not come from Camellia Sinensis, the tea bush. Instead, as our post on this topic notes, it is technically a herbal infusion, or ‘tisane’ – but we just call it a tea to keep things simple.