Monastic Tea Garden – Chamomile
Greetings on a hot and humid day from the Ohio River Valley. 🙂 I thought this Saturday afternoon a good time to talk about Tea once again. You can see our previous post in this series here: Monastic Tea Garden – The Mints
In May 2013, a friend gave us three packets of German Chamomile seeds, which were lovingly sown in an unused section of one of our sacristy gardens. They re-seeded themselves, and this year we also sowed Roman Chamomile. The difference? German chamomile is a tall annual, and Roman is a perennial groundcover. Both have delightfully ferny foliage and cheerful daisy flowers. The flowers are what are harvested for tea. A great debate has raged over the centuries as to which variety is better for tea. We choose both!
Chamomile harvesting is an every day event during the summer months. Unlike most herbs, which are best harvested in the cool of the morning before the leaves have become limp from sun and weather, ripe chamomile flowers are best gathered when the sun has warmed them. We troop out at our noon recreation to pick the happy little blossoms. They are ready when the whole yellow center has opened up and the white petals have folded under the flower. Wash them two or three times, pat them dry, and put them in the oven – they will be ready for storage in the morning. The dried flowers should be crumbled before they are steeped in tea.
Chamomile is one of the celebrity herbal teas for its medicinal qualities: anti-anxiety, sleep-inducing, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer are some of its main uses! Many people – nuns included – are fond of it as a bedtime tea.
Be sure to stay posted for the next Tea article which will feature the herb Hyssop.