German chamomile is one of the two plants known as chamomile from unrelated species; the other is Roman chamomile, Chamaemelum nobile. Each has similar daisy-like flowers with a rich apple scent, but German chamomile is the one most often used for tea and medicinal purposes. The Greeks, inspired by its distinct fragrance and creeping habit, named it khamai (ground) melon (apple). In ancient Egypt, chamomile was used to honor the gods, embalm the dead and cure the sick and the early Romans enjoyed it as a beverage as well as incense. In Germany, it was used as a bittering agent in beer until hops took over that function. Today, chamomile’s legacy lives on as children hear of its calming effect on Peter Rabbit after a tense night in Mr. McGregor’s garden!
Indigenous to western Asia, German chamomile is an annual that grows 2-3 feet tall and has feathery foliage with its characteristic daisy-like flowers. You can direct seed in the fall or spring, but each plant yields only a handful of flowers, so in spring sow additional seed every three weeks to prolong the harvest. It prefers full sun but will grow in partial shade. Once a patch is established, it should self-sow if some flowers are left after you harvest. The flower heads are picked in full bloom just as the petals slightly droop. A blueberry rake is a great tool to aid the harvest. Spread the blooms over a wire screen to dry in a shady, airy place then store in an airtight container as the flowers absorb moisture easily.
Chamomile is one of the most popular herbal teas in the world with a long history in folk medicine and has never fallen out of fashion. It has a distinct apple-like taste as well as a delightful aroma that leads to an overall feeling of well-being. Of course, chamomile tea is not only delicious, it is a calming beverage that is naturally caffeine free and also has comparable health benefits to green tea. It is an anti-inflammatory for the skin, an anti-infective for many common ailments, and is an anti-spasmodic for indigestion. Though not considered a “kitchen herb”, it should be grown in every cook’s garden as an edible flower whose petals may be added to salad and fresh blooms may be used to decorate cakes. Chamomile also makes a relaxing bath, hair rinse to bring out the highlight especially in blonde hair, eye tea to reduce puffiness, great potpourri blends and pressed flowers for crafts.
TEA TIME TRIVIA
Chamomile has been used
as far back as recorded history
as a bedtime or naptime prelude
for its body and mind relaxing properties
DAYS END TEA
1/2tsp dried chamomile
1/2tsp dried mint
1/2tsp dried lavender
honey or lemon
Combine the herbs in your warmed "tea for me" pot and add 1 cup boiling water. Steep for 5 minutes and strain. Add 1tsp of honey or lemon. Sit back, relax and enjoy!!!
1/4 c dried or fresh chamomile flowers
1/2 c softened butter
1 c sugar
1 3/4 c flour
Chop the chamomile blossoms, set aside. Cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour and chamomile. Drop by scant teaspoonfuls onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
CHAMOMILE FRUIT SALAD
1c chamomile tea prepared with lemon and honey
1tsp chamomile petals
Wash, core, peel and slice all the fruit Combine in a serving bowl and add the prepared and cooled tea. Sprinkle the chamomile petals over the fruit salad and serve.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”