Growing Chamomile Tea: Making Tea From Chamomile Plants

Growing Chamomile Tea: Making Tea From Chamomile Plants

There’s nothing like a soothing cup of chamomile tea. Not only does it taste good, but chamomile tea has a number of health benefits as well. Plus, there is something so calming about the process of making tea from chamomile you’ve grown yourself. If you’ve never thought about growing your own chamomile tea plant for tea brewing, now’s the time. Chamomile is easy to grow and thrives in a variety of areas. Read on to find out how to grow chamomile for tea.

Chamomile Tea Benefits

There’s no wonder that a cup of chamomile tea soothes the soul. Not only does it have mild sedative properties, but has been used for centuries for its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-allergenic uses as well.

Chamomile has also been used to treat stomach cramps, irritable bowels, indigestion, gas, and colic as well as menstrual cramps, hay fever, rheumatic pain, rashes, and lumbago. The herb has been used as a salve for hemorrhoids and wounds, and the steam has been inhaled to treat cold symptoms and asthma.

Many people drink chamomile tea to reduce their anxiety and to aid in sleeping. Really, an amazing list of health benefits has been attributed to just one cup of chamomile tea.

Chamomile Tea Plant Info

Chamomile comes in two types: German and Roman chamomile. German chamomile is an annual, bushy shrub that grows up to 3 feet (91 cm.) in height. Roman chamomile is a low growing perennial. Both produce similar aromatic blooms, but German is the more commonly grown for use in teas. Both are hardy in USDA zones 5-8. When it comes to growing chamomile for tea, either will work.

German chamomile is native to Europe, North Africa, and areas of Asia. It has been used since the Middle Ages and throughout ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt for a plethora of ailments. Chamomile has even been used to naturally lighten hair and the flowers can be used to make a yellow-brown fabric dye.

How to Grow Chamomile Tea

Chamomile should be planted in a sunny location with at least 8 hours per day of direct sun, but not scorching sun. Chamomile will thrive in average soil and can be grown directly in the ground or in containers.

Chamomile can be grown from nursery transplants, but it also germinates quickly and easily from seed. To sow seeds, prepare the planting area by raking it level and removing any weeds. The seeds are extremely tiny, so guard them from any gusts of wind or you will have chamomile everywhere.

Scatter the seeds onto the prepared soil bed. It’s okay if the seeds aren’t evenly distributed since you will have too thin the bed soon anyway. Gently press the seeds into the soil with your fingertips. Don’t cover them; chamomile seeds need direct exposure to sunlight to germinate.

Mist the planting area until damp. Keep the area damp during germination, which should take about 7-10 days.

Once the seedlings are up, you will notice that they are a bit crowded. It’s time to thin them. Choose seedlings that are weak looking to remove and space the remaining seedling at about 4 square inches (10 sq. cm.) apart from each other. Use scissors to snip those you are removing rather than pulling them from the soil. That way, you won’t be disturbing the roots of the remaining seedlings.

Thereafter, the plants require almost no attention; just water them when they look droopy. If you scratch a little compost into the plot in the spring, they shouldn’t even need any fertilizer. If you plant chamomile in containers, however, it might benefit from a little organic fertilizer every third watering.

In no time at all you will be making tea from your own homegrown chamomile which you can use either fresh or dried. When making tea from dried flowers, use about 1 teaspoon (5 mL.), but when brewing tea from fresh flowers, uses twice that amount.

Grow a Flourishing Backyard Tea Garden for Brewing

by Jodi Helmer, AARP, March 25, 2021 | Comments: 0

Lorena Endara/Getty Images

Basil, lemon balm, sage and mint might be popular in pesto, lasagna and soup but Christina Dedora prefers using the herbs in tea.

Dedora started blending and selling herbal teas like Afternoon Delight, Dream Sweet and Flower Power through her business, Sanctuary Herbs of Providence. The process, she says, is easy to replicate in a home garden.

"Herbs are a great addition to the garden [and] people don't know how easy it is to make your own tea,” she says.

Technically, “teas” made from herbs aren't teas at all they are tisanes or herbal infusions. Only beverages made with the leaves of the Camellia sinensis (tea) plant truly merit the “tea” moniker.

But informally these herbal concoctions are called “tea because … if we called them tisanes or herbal infusions, people wouldn't know what we were talking about,” explains Dedora.

Home gardeners can grow plants to make their own herbal tisanes or traditional teas.

Growing a true tea bush

Camellia sinensis leaves are used to make black, green, white and oolong teas. Like other camellia species, this evergreen bush grows best in warmer climates.

Steve Lorch, founder of Table Rock Tea Company, suggests gardeners below zone 7 grow Camellia sinensis in greenhouses or pots that can be moved indoors in the winter. (Not sure of your gardening zone? Check out the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map). Tea plants tolerate sun or shade but prefer acidic soil.

"It's a pretty, useful ornamental plant [and] once you get it established, it's an easy plant to care for,” Lorch says.

After four to six years, plants are considered mature and produce up to five servings of tea per year. Processing Camellia sinensis takes a bit of work.

Lorch, who describes the process in detail in his book, How to Grow and Make Tea in the United States, notes that it involves harvesting new growth and using a combination of heat or steam, drying and rolling the leaves (depending on whether you're making white, black, green or oolong tea) to take the leaves from garden to teacup. The leaves also can be steeped fresh but won't have the same robust flavor as dried, hand-processed tea.

There is a learning curve, Lorch admits, but with a little practice it can be a DIY process. He adds: “Tea has been around for thousands of years there is no special equipment needed."

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Herbs to flavor your brew

Growing herbs for tisanes or herbal “teas” is much easier. Choose a sunny garden spot to plant seedlings like chamomile, lavender, echinacea and lemongrass, which are sold in most nurseries. Peppermint, spearmint and catnip can even be grown in containers on the patio.

Herbal teas also offer significant health benefits: Chamomile is linked to improved sleep quality peppermint has antimicrobial and antiviral properties and has been shown to ease digestive upset and ginger is associated with lowered inflammation.

If you're growing herbs for tea, Dedora suggests steering clear of pesticides. Harvest fresh herbs in the morning when the oils — and flavor — are strongest. You can steep fresh herbs in boiling water to make garden-to-teacup brews but dried herbs pack a bigger flavor punch.

"Dried is the way to go,” Dedora says. “Dried herbs dry in the oils so you use less."

To dry, harvest a handful of herbs on the stem and bundle the stem ends with an elastic hang them in a dark room. Exposure to direct sunlight will degrade the oils in the leaves, while a humid spot — like a bathroom — could cause mold to grow on the leaves.

Once the leaves are dried, which takes about two weeks, strip them from the stems (a process called garbling) and store them in a paper bag or glass jar until you're ready to make tea. Dedora notes that dried herbs have a shelf life of up to two years.

Plan to use about one tablespoon of dried herbs per teacup double the amount if using fresh herbs. You can purchase reusable tea bags or a tea strainer (also known as a tea ball) to separate the fresh or dried herbs from the water. You can use a single variety of herb, like peppermint, or mix multiple herbs, like lavender, lemon verbena and spearmint, to make custom tea blends. Don't be afraid to get creative.

"Not only is [tea from herbs growing in your backyard] healthier and fresher but you're saving on your carbon footprint,” Dedora says. “There is absolutely a wow factor."

Recipes for Herbal Infusions to Make at Home

  • 1/4 cup dried peppermint leaves
  • 1/4 cup dried lemon balm leaves
  • 2 cups water

Place the peppermint and lemon balm leaves in a teapot. Bring a kettle of water to a boil and pour it over the leaves, leaving them to steep for three to five minutes. Strain the leaves before drinking.

  • 1 tablespoon dried lemon verbena leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried lemon balm leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried bee balm leaves
  • 2 cups water

Boil the water, add the lemon verbena, lemon balm and bee balm steep for three to five minutes. Strain the leaves, pour the tea into a warm mug and serve.

Recipes from Growing Your Own Tea Garden: The Guide to Growing and Harvesting Flavorful Teas in Your Backyard by Jodi Helmer

Jodi Helmer is a contributing writer who covers gardening, health and the environment. She has also written for Scientific American, National Geographic Traveler and NPR.

How to Start Seeds Indoors (Tip #6)

When learning how to grow chamomile from seed you should almost always start your process indoors.

Step 1

You will want to start your chamomile seeds inside approximately 6 weeks before you plan on moving your chamomile into your garden or moving your larger container.

You want to first start by filling your 3 inches pot 80% full with your potting mix.

Next, you will want to spray the soil immediately after 5-10 times. You want the soil to be damp, but not soaked. You will know the soil is damp when it turns a dark brown color.

Step 2

Next, use the tip of a pencil and make a circular motion to form a tiny hole. This will be approximately 1/8 inch deep.

Then place 2 seeds into the hole and brush the soil over the seeds.

You will then spray the soil again 5 to 8 times. Moisten, but do not dampen the soil.

Step 3

After planting your seeds place your pots in direct sunlight or under your grow light. Your seeds will need approximately 8 hours of sunlight.

If you put your seeds under the grow light keep it approximately 4 inches from the bulb. Anything closer will burn the seeds. Anything further away with not provides enough heat and light.

You will also need to make sure the room temperature is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the air temperature does not stay around this temperature then your seeds will not germinate or pop through the soil.

If you don’t have an area that will stay consistently around 70 degrees, I would recommend investing in a Plant Heating Mat.

A Plant Heating Mat is the perfect way to keep your pots and seeds at a consistent temperature that we may not otherwise be able to. The best part about a heat mat is you just plug it in and you are all set.

Step 4

After your initial planting, you will need to spray the soil once to twice a day. You will know it’s time to spray if the soil looks a light brown color or feels dry to the touch.

It will take approximately 7-14 days for your seeds to germinate or pop through the soil.

Do not worry if it takes a few days later as each growing situation is different.

Step 5

Continue spraying your chamomile (as referred to step 4) over the next 4-8 weeks.

Once your chamomile reaches 3 inches tall you will either want to move them into your larger containers or move them outside.

If you move your chamomile plants into a larger container you can continue to water them twice a day until they are ready to be harvested.

You should only move your chamomile plants outside if the temperature is above freezing.

You can view your hardy zone below to determine your first and last frost date of the year.

When transplanting your chamomile plant into a garden you will want to dig a hole that is the size of your chamomile plant root ball (where the roots meet the soil). Next, cover it with soil and water it for 30 seconds.

It should also be noted that chamomile grows best in soil with a pH from 5.5-7.5.

It should also be noted that you will not need to thin your chamomile plant like you would with vegetables or herbs.

If you learn better watching a video then I recommend watching the below youtube tutorial:

Watch the video: How I make chamomile tea from dried chamomile.