Chamomile herbal tea is well-known for its calming and relaxing properties. This makes it a highly-desirable form of tea. If you grow chamomile at home, you will be able to harvest and dry chamomile for use in tea year round.
Chamomile Tea Benefits
It is no secret that chamomile has properties to relax the body and mind. However, drinking chamomile tea has many other benefits. Recent scientific studies by the American Chemical Society have proven that manzanilla increases glycine, which relieves muscle spasms. This makes effective for relieving menstrual cramps in women. It also increased levels of hippurate, which are associated with boosting the immune system and fighting off certain infections. Its relaxation properties also help to battle insomnia. Finally, manzanilla also contains chamazulene, which has anti-inflammatory properties that may help individuals with rheumatism, gastritis, or arthritis.
Harvesting Chamomile Tea
To get the most benefits out of your chamomile, the leaves need to be harvested at their peak of growth. This will ensure that you get the most oils out of your flower heads. Your chamomile should be harvested on a dry day, because if you harvest them while wet they may grow mold instead of drying.
You can tell your chamomile are ready to harvest when the buds begin to fully open. Then, you can use one of two methods to harvest the chamomile. You can either cut the stem, which will allow you to hang the flowers to dry, or harvest just the heads. If you harvest the heads, pinch just below the flower to detach it. This will encourage the growth of new flowers for another harvest.
There are a few different methods that can be used to dry chamomile. However, whichever method you choose, be sure to clean the flower before drying it. You can do this by soaking it is cold salt water for about ten minutes. Then, drain the flowers, rinse them, and allow them to soak in clean water for an additional five minutes.
If you harvested the entire flower, stem and all, you can tie the flowers together and hang them in a cool, dry place. The advantage to this method is that it releases a very pleasant aroma as the flowers dry. You can also use the leaves in your chamomile tea. However, the tea leaves will not have quite as many oils as the plant.
If you chose to pick the individual heads off of the chamomile plants, you can choose one of several methods to dry the flowers. First, you can place the manzanilla between either two paper towels or some cheesecloth, and set in a cool, dry place to dry. You can also use a dehydrator or the oven. Be sure to dry them on a very low setting and check frequently, to avoid over-drying the blossoms or burning them. Once they have dried, store them in an air-tight jar to ensure lasting freshness.
Chamomile tea benefits have been noted by many different cultures. It can be used as a medicinal herb or even just to relax. By harvesting and drying chamomile properly, you can enjoy fresh-from-the-garden chamomile tea year round.