Your body is tired but your mind isn’t. It’s the witching hour.
Time to break out the big guns.
It's chamomile time.
But what’s it all about?
In this blog post, we’ll give you a rundown on everything you need to know about this wonderfully calming drink. From its soothing effects to how to cultivate your own if you’re feeling green fingered.
Dim the lights. Pop on your whale sounds playlist and let’s calm down a bit for goodness sake.
What is chamomile anyway?
Chamomile is an herb that belongs to the daisy family, Asteraceae.
There are two main types of chamomile commonly used for tea: German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile).
Chanui chamomile is made from the German variation like the vast majority of other products on the market. German chamomile grows upright and stretches out in the shade looking for light. It looks lovely in any garden.
Roman chamomile is more of a creeping, ground cover type plant. It doesn’t look or taste as nice. So remember the age old rhyme:
- Wordsworth (probably)
What does chamomile tea taste like?
As you might expect from a brew made from flowers, it tastes very floral and slightly sweet. Depending on the steeping time, it sometimes carries a subtle earthy undertone. The taste can also vary depending on the quality of the tea.
Chamomile has fairly high concentrations of Bisabolol, which when isolated, can smell like honey and apples, aromas you can certainly pick up on as the drink steeps. If you bring a teabag right up to your nose and give it a good long sniff, it evokes memories of apple crumble preparation.
Q. Chamomile, huh, yeah! What is it good for?
A. Rest and relaxation
Chamomile has been used for centuries in traditional medicine and is recognised for its calming and soothing effects.
It contains two key compounds responsible for its relaxing effect: chamazulene and bisabolol.
Chamazulene is a compound found in chamomile which is thought to work by interacting with receptors and neurotransmitters involved in stress and anxiety.
Bisabolol (of above apple and honey flavour fame), is often used in skin cosmetics to treat acne due to its know anti-irritant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Bisabolol also stimulates gastrointestinal tract receptors, thus causing smooth muscle relaxation.
During sleep, our body experiences a decrease in temperature, typically ranging from around 0.5 to 1.0 degrees Celsius. One way to potentially fall asleep more efficiently is by enjoying a naturally decaffeinated hot drink before bed, which can effectively "hack" your body's thermostat.
When you drink a hot beverage, it temporarily raises your body temperature. In response, your body initiates its natural cooling mechanisms by increasing blood flow to the skin's surface, allowing for the dissipation of heat.
By stimulating the processes that naturally occur before sleep, we can potentially encourage the onset of sleep itself. Taking a hot shower before bed can have a similar effect.
Do this for three weeks and you’ll probably start feeling sleepy as soon as you hear the click of the kettle switch.
How long does it take to work?
This is always going to vary from person to person but as a rule of thumb you should consider incorporating a cup of chamomile into your wider wind-down routine about 30-50 minutes before you want to nod off.
That gives the brew plenty of time to work its way through your system while you brush your teeth and listen to the shipping forecast.
If you found this post by googling that question: put your phone down and count your breaths for a while!
How do you grow chamomile?
Chamomile is actually pretty easy to grow. It thrives in well-drained soil and prefers full sun to partial shade so if you’re in the northern hemisphere, face them south and face them north if you live in the southern hemisphere.
You can start chamomile from seeds or purchase young plants quite cheaply from a nursery. Sow the seeds or transplant the seedlings in your desired location, keeping in mind that chamomile can spread. Regular watering and occasional pruning will help maintain healthy growth. Harvest the flowers when they are fully open but before they begin to wilt.
Epic Gardening have a great short video on the subject. If you’re not quite so green fingered, may we humbly suggest trying this product.
How to prepare your grown chamomile for brewing
Harvest chamomile flowers when they are fully open, usually in the morning after the dew has evaporated. Gently pluck the flowers from the plant, leaving behind the stems and leaves to stimulate further growth.
There are many ways to dry them but the simplest way is to lay them out evenly on a tray and air-dry them for a few days, turning regularly.
If you’re in a hurry to drink your chamomile, we suggest slowing down and cultivating a sense of patience and calm to match your crop…
Or read this article about sun drying, oven drying and dehydrating techniques.
Brewing a cup
- Bring water to a boil and remove from the heat.
- Add 2 teaspoons of dried chamomile or one teabag per cup
- Pour the hot water over the chamomile and let steep for 4-5 minutes. This might seem like a long while but it allows the flavours and beneficial compounds to infuse into the tea so don’t skip it.
- Strain your tea or remove the bag.
- Adjust taste with a sweetener of your choice and maybe a slice of lemon. Get creative!
Is chamomile safe during pregnancy?
In short - yes. It’s naturally caffeine free and generally considered safe for most people. In fact it is often recommended as a natural remedy for various pregnancy discomforts.
However, we cannot stress highly enough that you shouldn’t be consulting us - a tea company - for important information about major dietary or lifestyle changes while bringing a baby to term.
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed our brief look into Chamomile tea. It’s a handy bag to add to your arsenal and really is a lovely drink to end any busy day.
If you’re looking to ad something new into your bed time routine or fancy a new drink to unwind with in front of the telly then give it a go.