There are many different types of teas, but when it comes to the flowers in them, there is only a handful you'll find at your Local Tea Shop. These include jasmine and rose for lighter teas like White Tea and oolong respectively; chamomile, lavender, and elderflower for more floral tastes; peppermint and spearmint for strong minty flavors.
In this blog, we are looking at another type of flower that is in some types of tea- chamomile. Also known as "German Chamomile", this plant has been used for flowering gardens and herbal remedies for many years. Today, it's often used to make different varieties of tea as well! So let's get started with digging into the information on this unique variety of florals!
The Name: Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
This may not be a surprise to the majority of people who have had this tea before... but chamomile is actually the name for two plants. The most famous one you'll find being used in teas today is called German chamomile. There's also Roman chamomile, which is from a different species and will not be discussed here.
German chamomile is slightly less known than the other variety, but it holds all of the value one could put into its name.. "Matricaria" means 'spotted mother', presumably because of how small its white flowers are. The 'recutita' portion? That means it has been 'recut'. You'll often hear this term as you dig more into herbalism; it refers to plants that have been cut back by at least 50% in order to stimulate new growth. This may be done every year or only once in five years! It's up t the gardener/herbalist to decide when it's best for their plants.
The Plant: A Rising Star of Tea Florals!
As you can see in the image above, German chamomile is a rather small plant. It grows almost 4-8 inches tall and has very small flowers that grow in clusters on top of stems. This makes it unique compared to other flowering plants that are sometimes used for teas because there will be more than just one flower per bunch. In many cases, this means you get even more flavor than jasmine or rose which may only have 1-3 petals per drop of tea! The flowers themselves are white with yellow centers (looking similar to actual daisies). They can be harvested before or after the seeds have formed, but should be dried properly to stop them from going bad.
The Taste: A Different Sort of Floral Tea!
As opposed to using rose petals for a more subtle floral taste or jasmine flowers which give off a stronger honey-like flavor, German chamomile is all about an interesting and unique sort of minty taste. It's not quite a peppermint nor spearmint- it has a true herbal undertone that may be difficult to describe if you haven't tasted it before. Many compare it to chamomile tea which can often have other things mixed in such as lemongrass (to give off a citrus note) or dandelion (which gives the tea a more bitter and earthy taste).
The Process: What Happens When You Make Chamomile Tea? The process of making chamomile tea can be one of the easiest for florals. Because it's milder than jasmine or rose, you don't need to go through an entire steeping process to get the most out of this herbal tea. Remember that these flowers are tiny- so if you've ever used them in anything before you might notice that they really do not hold up well when steeped in water due to being over-brewed or improperly dried and stored. We've found that the best way to make chamomile is by first bringing two cups of water to a boil. Once it's at the full rolling boil, we add in one to two teaspoons of chamomile for each cup of water (two teaspoons if you're making more than just two cups). The best part is that this only needs to be done once!
Once you've added your flowers/leaves into the boiling water, let them steep for ten minutes and then remove! Instead of steeping multiple times as you do with other teas, simply strain out the plant matter and enjoy. This can either be done by using a strainer on top of an empty cup or even getting something like a Tea Ave Stainless Steel Tea Infuser. Just remember: keep these plants fresh after they have been dried! If you're not using them immediately, store them in a sealed container and keep them somewhere dry.
Are You Ready for the Best Chamomile Tea? It's really hard to beat chamomile tea. After all, it has been a part of folk medicine for thousands of years and even in the modern-day, we can see why! The taste is unique yet simple and powerful- no wonder it takes over Germany each year! While you might not have known that German chamomile was an option until now, hopefully, this article gave you some insight into why this variety is worth checking out.
The fact that not many people know about it makes it worthwhile to try out and experiment on your own. If you've already tried rose or jasmine, you are most welcome to share your experience here!