Chamomile tea is one of the most popular teas and herbal supplements out there. But what is chamomile tea, and what makes it so special? Let’s take a look at the unique properties of chamomile tea as both a tasty beverage and a health supplement, as well as what the best chamomile brands are for both.
What is Chamomile Tea?
Chamomile tea is derived from flowers and buds of the chamomile plant. Caffeine-free and gluten-free, it can be enjoyed by a variety of people regardless of health concerns, as it won’t cause anxiety or an upset stomach. Traditionally, it is a bedtime tea heralded for calming effects. The tea is created by steeping chamomile flowers in a cup or pot of hot water.
What Does Chamomile Tea Taste Like?
Chamomile tea is a delicious blend of fruity and herbal notes and has a smooth and refreshing finish. Many who partake of chamomile tea describe it as tasting a bit like an earthy apple. The robust but gentle scent is relaxing which made it popular in ancient times as a scenting agent.
The Chamomile Calm
Chamomile tea increases the production of serotonin and melatonin in your body. Both hormones can help improve mood, alleviate stress, and relax. Also rich in antioxidants, chamomile tea helps to open blood vessels to promote more efficient circulation, which helps with inflammation and alleviates minor aches and pains, including headaches. While the effect is not particularly strong, it’s perfect for relaxing and comfortably slipping into blissful sleep.
Does Chamomile Tea Help with Anxiety?
The same serotonin and melatonin production encouraged by chamomile tea for sleep also helps with anxiety. While the effect is not strong enough to be a substitute for medication, it will help alleviate minor day-to-day anxiety and promote relaxation. The effect is subtle enough that it should not impair the ability to perform regular daily activities, and can be taken at any time, including at multiple points throughout the day.
Are There Other Health Benefits of Chamomile Tea?
Chamomile tea boosts immune health, as it is rich in antibacterial properties, and the robust but gentle scent can clear sinuses. It is also great for digestive problems, and to relieve gas or prevent stomach ulcers, while the anti-inflammatory nature of chamomile helps prevent diarrhea. Lastly, chamomile may be used as a topical treatment for skin conditions such as eczema and rosacea and may help improve scar healing as well as minimize wrinkles.
What Chamomile Teas Are the Best?
Egyptian Chamomile is generally considered the best chamomile tea. Native to the Nile River valley, it has the most balanced and widely-appealing flavor of all types. Egyptian chamomile has a unique taste because the environmental conditions of the region—the rich soil of the Nile—produces a fuller flavor and encourages exceptional smoothness
German Chamomile, sometimes called Italian chamomile, wild chamomile, or Hungarian chamomile, is a widely-used annual plant grown across Eurasia but can be found in many parts of the world. The reason German chamomile is sought-after is for its high concentration of bisabolol and chamazulene. These compounds produce the tea’s calming effects, generally making it the second best after the scarcer Egyptian chamomile (and thus one of the most widely used).
Roman Chamomile is sometimes simply called by its botanical name, which is Chamaemelum nobile. Roman chamomile has a bolder and more bitter taste, and so it often appears in tea blends to help smooth out the taste. While it still has chamomile’s classic health benefits, the relaxation is a bit less pronounced. Given its unique flavor, Roman chamomile is generally enjoyed more as a matter of preference by those with sophisticated palettes, and probably shouldn’t be chosen by those explicitly looking for health benefits.
How Do I Choose Chamomile Tea?
If you’re interested in trying out chamomile tea for its lovely taste or myriad health benefits, and you have an idea of what type of chamomile would be best for you, it can still be hard to determine how to go about picking out your tea. While you can grow chamomile in your own garden and enjoy a fresh cup of brewed chamomile anytime this way, it will require a lot of work for a relatively small yield.
Skip the teabags and look for loose flowers that are certified USDA organic, as these tend to be grown in more rural areas away from industrial pollutants, and generally include the best parts of the plants whereas tea bags include dust and less helpful parts of the plant. If you must use a tea bag for lack of options, try to find larger tea bags, and let your chamomile steep for a long period of time—this helps to allow the flowers to expand and release all their health benefits!