Chamomile is commonly known and used as a comforting bedtime tea. This pretty plant, which is a member of the daisy family (Asteraceae family), is very simple to grow and can provide you with a bountiful garden bursting with delicate flowers and fragrant foliage, as well as an abundance of fodder for your herbal tea cupboard. The word chamomile comes from the Greek Chamos which means “ground” and melos, which means “apple.” This makes sense, as some describe the smell of chamomile as being reminiscent of apples!
German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum mobile) are the two most common types of chamomile used in tea making. For the most part, they are interchangeable, as they both share some of the same plant compounds and are used for the same purposes. However, Roman chamomile is referred to as the ‘true’ chamomile.
Benefits of Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea is most commonly consumed as a sleep aid. It contains a specific antioxidant that is thought to promote sleepiness and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. It may also induce a better quality of sleep.
Chamomile tea may also have topical benefits, too. Once you have finished with your tea bag, instead of tossing it in the compost, you can use the cooled teabag for your skin. It is a natural anti-inflammatory and may help ease redness and soothe inflammation.
Source: Health And Homestead/Youtube
Grow Your Own Chamomile
Sure, you can buy box after box of chamomile tea bags from the supermarket, but as easy as chamomile is to grow at home, you could provide yourself with all the chamomile tea you could wish for just a fraction of the cost and zero waste!
You can grow chamomile whether you have a garden bed ready and waiting for this brimming plant to blossom or simply a porch with a perfectly sized pot! First, let’s take a look at the two most common types of chamomile and their properties so that you can decide which is the best fit for you.
- German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita): German chamomile is an annual plant that self-seeds prolifically. This means that once you have it established in your garden, it is likely to volunteer year after year. This variety is said to produce more flowers than the Roman kind, so this is perfect if you are looking to make tea. This plant grows to about 24 inches high and doesn’t spread out as much as Roman chamomile.
- Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum mobile): Roman chamomile is a perennial plant that works more like a ground cover. It spreads by runners under the ground, much like mint, and can reach up to about a foot in height. It doesn’t produce as many flowers as German chamomile, though the flowers are much bigger.
Luckily, whichever type of chamomile you pick, the growing process is similar. If you are looking for a head start, sow your chamomile seeds indoors about three weeks before the last frost of spring. Fill a seed tray with well-draining soil and sprinkle the tiny seeds across the top. Press the seeds into the soil, but do not cover them. Chamomile seeds need light to germinate. Then, lightly water them with mist. They should germinate in around 7-10 days.
Once the seedlings are about an inch tall, you may transplant them. The success rate for transplanting isn’t always great, so you may want to wait until after the last frost and direct sow your seeds into your garden using the same method as described above. The seedlings will need to be thinned out to about 4 inches.
Chamomile likes a sunny spot. However, a little afternoon shade in really hot climates wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Now, It’s Time To Harvest and Use Your Chamomile
Make sure that your flowers are clean and dry. You may tie the flowers by their stems and hang them in a warm dry place to let them dry naturally. This should take a few days, but keep checking on the progress. The flowers should crumble in your fingers once they are ready.
You can also use a dehydrator set at 95-115 F. Spread a single layer of flower heads on the sheet and let them dry for 1-4 hours. The length of time is dependent on many factors, so just check on your flowers every 30 minutes or so to check progress.
Store your dried herbs in a clean, air-tight jar for up to a year. You may use your dried flowers to make tea. One tablespoon per cup of hot water should be sufficient.
This article is for information purposes only. Consult a medical professional and do your research before using herbs medicinally.
Recipes you can make at home with chamomile:
- Almond and Chamomile Panna Cotta [Vegan]
- Chamomile Ginger Lemon Raw Energy Bars [Vegan]
- Peach and Chamomile Ice Pops [Vegan, Gluten-Free]
- Chamomile Panna Cotta With Citrus Fruits [Vegan]
- Fig Curd Tarts With Lavender and Chamomile Cream [Vegan, Gluten-Free]
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