Even the newest of tea newbies will have heard of chamomile tea. They’ve likely been recommended it when it’s night time, or if they need to relax. Sometimes they might have been told to drink it if their stomach is unsettled.
What exactly is it about chamomile tea that makes it so diverse, and what does it taste like when you make it? Spoiler: Unlike Jasmine Tea or Milk Tea, it tastes mildly sweet and floral, with hints of apple and honey. This makes sense, as the word chamomile actually comes from the Ancient Greek words for “earth” and “apple,” kamai and melon. These things and more are exactly what we are going to do a deep dive into in this article. Here is what we are going to cover:
- What is chamomile?
- What are the benefits of chamomile tea?
- How should you make chamomile tea?
- Where is the best place to find chamomile tea?
- Frequently asked questions about chamomile and chamomile tea.
Whether you are just deciding to learn about tea for fun or are starting to get into the world of tea, let this article be a good starting point when it comes to the wonderful world of chamomile.
We also want to preface this whole thing by acknowledging that chamomile is not really a “true tea” as it doesn’t come from the tea bush in any way. It’s more accurately a type of herbal infusion…but simply saying “tea” is shorter. Now, let’s go!
What is Chamomile?
Let’s start off with the basics: what on Earth is chamomile? Chamomile is a flowering plant that has been used for thousands of years by several cultures in traditional medicine, and it comes in two varieties: German and Roman. German chamomile is primarily found in Eastern Europe and some parts of Asia, while Roman chamomile is abundant in Central Europe and North America.
Roman chamomile is the by far the more common of the two that we have today, and it got its name because the botanist that found it in the 19th century found it growing near the Coliseum. Much of the available chamomile, in a form of homage to its origins, is found in Egypt. Both varieties can be grown in any area that has a temperate climate, though.
Chamomile has been known to calm the nerves and soothe an upset stomach and is a part of many traditional remedies for these types of ailments and more. In an article from the Molecular Medicines Report, they say that dried petals of this flower are recognized for being able to help with “hay fever, inflammation, muscle spasms, menstrual disorders, insomnia, ulcers, wounds, gastrointestinal disorders, rheumatic pain, and hemorrhoids.”
This is just the shortlist, there’s much more. Chamomile is full of bioactive phytochemicals and is still a widely used pharmaceutical all around the world, and it is actually listed as a pharmaceutical drug in 26 different countries. Who started this trend, though? Who was the first person to look at those daisy-shaped flowers and think, “Hmm…I’m going to eat that and see what it does for me.”?
The history of chamomile and chamomile tea is a very long and rich one. Ancient Egyptians and Romans both were using chamomile for its health benefits for ages before it became popular around the world.
Ancient Egyptians believed chamomile came from the gods and cured “the fever,” along with the common cold. In Ancient Rome, they would drink it as well as use it in incense. The Spanish used chamomile as a sherry ingredient, and in the Middle Ages, the English used it as a bittering agent in their beer making.
The same monks who used it in beer making also noticed that if they planted the chamomile near a plant that was struggling, that plant would begin to improve! Many of the ancients would use it to ingest for health, but also as a skincare cosmetic. Many of these uses are still in effect today! From healing properties to beverage components to cosmetics, chamomile is still a do-it-all kind of plant.
The way that it has always been prepared for use is by gently picking the flower heads and letting them slowly dry out. Once dry, the little golden nuggets can be steeped for tea, ground into powder and added to cosmetics, incense, salves, or even food.
Chamomile has been found to be an effective topical treatment for skin conditions like eczema for ages. Modern studies have shown it to be roughly 60% as effective as hydrocortisone cream when it is applied as a cream with chamomile extract. It can also be useful for speeding up the healing of wounds.
This can be achieved through bathing in chamomile or using tinctures. The increase in epithelialization (the growth of new epithelial cells) and the boost in drying out wounds has been noted in studies, but it would need more research before it can be recommended by modern medicine as effective.
Benefits of Chamomile Tea
Did you know that there are over one million cups of chamomile tea consumed each day around the world? Why do so many people drink this particular variety of tea? With its numerous health benefits and its mildly sweet flavor, there are plenty of benefits to drinking chamomile tea. Let’s go over some of these health benefits.
- Reduce Insomnia: Chamomile is a natural muscle relaxer and sedative, so chamomile tea is also sometimes referred to as “sleepy time tea” because of these magical properties. Chamomile tea has no caffeine, either so it’s a perfect nightcap. Get yourself all nice and cozy with your mug of chamomile tea and a good book and prepare to be relaxed. If you want, you can even take it a step further and get some chamomile essential oil into the mix to boost the sleepy factor.
- Fight Hay fever and colds: This seems crazy since we still have yet to discover the cure for the common cold, but Ancient Egyptians used to use chamomile as a way to cure and prevent colds. Modern-day studies show that inhaling steam from chamomile tea can help alleviate cold symptoms, but more research is needed before a solid conclusion can be made. It’s also been noted in studies where participants drank several cups of chamomile tea and had notably higher levels of antibacterial activity, leading to a better immune system to fight colds and hay fever.
- Solve Gastrointestinal Issues: An upset stomach can be caused by any number of things, and ingesting chamomile helps with several of them. It aids in dealing with gas, upset stomach, colic, gastric ulcers, and more.
- Ease Menstrual cramps: Are your muscles all knotted up in your lower abdomen during your period? Having a nice, hot cup of chamomile tea can help with that. As a natural muscle relaxant, chamomile tea will help loosen up that knot. Not to mention that the warmth of the mug will feel nice if you rest it against your lower tummy.
- Reduce Anxiety: If you are feeling that nervous energy that can sometimes come with anxiety, maybe give a daily cup or two of chamomile tea a try. The chrysin in chamomile is known to help reduce or calm anxiety by acting as a relaxant, as does the apigenin (which can also be found in alcohol and is what makes it a nice sedative). Basically put, chamomile tea sets off the serotonin and melatonin production to help put your mind at ease.
- Anti-cancer: Some recent studies have shown that the apigenin in chamomile minimally aids in tumor growth inhibition, but it shows a promising reduction in cancer cell viability. This path of study is still in progress, but it seems promising.
How to Make Chamomile Tea
There’s always a certain feeling of peace and ceremony that comes with making a cup of tea. Taking the time to heat the water, steep the tea, and drink the tea all give a brief window of time where you can focus solely on the task at hand and blissfully enjoy the moment. Let’s talk about how to make the perfect cup of chamomile tea.
- You will need a handful of fresh or dried chamomile flowers (or a tea sachet) and boiling water. For an extra kick, you can add a couple apple mint leaves.
- Boil your water (spring or filtered is ideal).
- Pop the flowers in an infuser, or drop in the tea bag, and let steep for 5 minutes. If you’re adding those apple mint leaves, now is the time.
- Once it’s fully steeped, remove the petals and apple mint leaves and pour your perfect tea into your favourite mug and enjoy!
Some good add-ons for your newly made cup of chamomile tea would be some milk and honey, or just the honey if you don’t want a latte-style beverage. A few other great chamomile tea recipes are a spiced chamomile tea latte, a chamomile lavender tea, and a chamomile ginger iced tea.
Did you also know that chamomile pairs well with more…adult beverages? As a great example: chamomile and gin work really nicely together, and you can make a cool chamomile-infused version of a gin fizz that will soothe your soul and dazzle your taste buds!
Some herb beers are also made with chamomile. For those times when you’re feeling a little under the weather, check out a chamomile hot toddy to soothe your body.
There are plenty of great beverages you can make with chamomile, so just browse online until you find one that strikes your fancy!
Best Places to Find Chamomile Tea
Now that you know all of the great health benefits of chamomile and how to make a perfect cup of chamomile tea, where should you go to get that tea? We’re going to help you out there and give you some of our favourite brands and where to find them.
As a start, you can get a wide variety of chamomile teas at your local grocery store so that is a great place to start. As far as brands, here are a few great ones.
There are so many other brands you can choose from, and so many countries you can get your chamomile from. It may take some trial and error, but you will eventually find your own favourite go-to.
Now that you’ve learned all there is to know about the extensive history of chamomile and chamomile tea, doesn’t it feel much cooler and historically impactful to drink?
The huge variety of health benefits ranging from gut health, skin health, immune health, and sleep aid (and several other benefits) make this a truly versatile and perfect tea to have on hand at all times.
We’ve talked about how to make the perfect cup of traditional chamomile tea, as well as a variety of other chamomile beverages, and some of the best brands of chamomile tea that you can find in most grocery stores! Long story short, chamomile tea should be in every home.
Where did chamomile tea come from?
Chamomile tea was first found in Ancient Egypt (that we know of), and later in Ancient Rome. The first documented use of chamomile as medicine is from 1550 BCE in Eber’s Papyrus.
Can you drink too much chamomile tea?
Yes, yes you can. If you drink too much, it could cause extreme drowsiness and even vomiting. Aim for 1-2 cups a day and try not to drink more than 5.
Can you be allergic to chamomile tea?
Actually, yes. You could have an allergy to plants in the daisy family, which includes chamomile. It’s a relatively low percentage of people that have this allergy, but you never know.
How long does (unbrewed) chamomile tea last?
Chamomile tea can last 6-12 months before it loses its freshness and flavour.
Is chamomile tea good for you?
In a nutshell, absolutely. There are numerous physical health benefits, and there are also some mental health benefits to the process and ceremony of making your tea.
About the Author
This article was written by Jordan O'Hara, Founder of Windansea Coffee.
You can learn more about him here.