My grandmother always grew her own chamomile for tea. She used to dry it in her attic, which was a magical place to explore during my childhood trips to her home in Italy. The smell of chamomile still brings me back to those days.
I think my grandmother believed chamomile tea with honey fixed just about anything. She used to mail us some of her dried tea every year, and my mom still gives me a jar of her own every so often.
So when I saw a chamomile plant at the garden center this spring, I scooped it up and popped it into a container to see how it would do. It’s a pretty plant, with a soft bushy look and sweet little white flowers. By the end of the summer, it can get a little tall and gangly, so take that into account when you’re planning out your garden pots.
I planted German chamomile, which is the most common variety. It’s an annual that can also be grown from seeds. Mine was planted in full sun, but it can also handle a little shade. And you only need to water it occasionally.
The fun part is harvesting. It’s important to pick the flower heads only, since the stems can add a bitter taste. I did this quite easily by just snipping the flowers off right at the top of the stems with a pair of scissors. Then I spread them out and dried them in a well-ventilated area.
It’s these dried flowers that make up the tea. Take some when you want to soothe your stomach, help relax your muscles, boost your immune system, ease menstrual cramps, or promote restful sleep. Store the tea in a jar, and use about 1 teaspoon of dried flowers per cup when you’re brewing your tea. And my grandma would have said to add a little honey and lemon too.