Chamomile is a lovely herb which is valued for it’s soothing and calming properties, steeped in a herbal tea. Easily grown in the garden, chamomile can be harvested, dried and stored in the pantry for later use. Learn how to dry chamomile for tea, and enjoy this homegrown herb in your teacup throughout the seasons.
It’s great to know that we can grow our own chamomile plants right in the herb garden
Chamomile can be grown from seed. This sweet smelling herb is easy to grow, harvest and dry.
Chamomile looks like a small daisy, with tiny white petals. It grows in full sun, and is a very low maintenance plant.
There are several different species of chamomile which are popular to grow.
Popular Types Of Chamomile For Tea
Popular types of chamomile include:
- German chamomile, or matricaria recutita ( also known as matricaria chamomilla ), and
- Roman chamomile, or chamaemelum nobile.
Roman chamomile is also referred to as English and Russian chamomile.
This year I planted a Polish variety of matricaria recutita called Zloty Lan, which I grew, dried and harvested for tea.
There is also a wild chamomile variety called pineappleweed, or Matricaria discoidea, which can also be harvested for tea.
- Many may recognize this plant as one commonly found growing in their yard, not even knowing that it is a chamomile plant.
- pineappleweed has no petals, and has a wonderful fragrant scent of pineapples on the flowers and foliage.
Tea made from Chamomile is one of the most popular of all herbal teas.
Chamomile tea is called a tisane, meaning an infusion made with herbs.
The Benefits Of Chamomile Tea
The chamomile herb has long been used for it’s herbal benefits and medicinal properties. Chamomile tea is known for the calming and soothing effect it can have on the user.
If you have ever enjoyed a cup of chamomile tea, you likely know exactly what I mean.
Here is a great article from the National Library Of Medicine highlighting chamomile as a herbal medicine, and identifying it’s benefits: Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future.
Medical News Today has identified some research based benefits, as well as others requiring more study, in the article What Are The Benefits Of Chamomile Tea?
As with any herbal teas, always start slowly to determine how it is tolerated.
Chamomile tea should be used as a supplement, and never as replacement for medical treatment.
Avoid use with young children and those with chamomile allergies.
Why Dry Chamomile?
Drying chamomile will help to preserve the flowers, which are used to make the tea.
The drying process helps to remove the moisture from the blooms, allowing them to be safely preserved and stored for later use.
The benefit of drying and preserving is that you can harvest lots of chamomile blooms all at once. You can then dry the chamomile, and use it later for tea, as long as the flowers have been correctly dried and preserved.
What Part Of Chamomile Is Used For Tea?
Both the leaves and the flowers of chamomile have a wonderful fruity flavor and aroma.
It is usually only the chamomile blossoms, rather than the leaves, that are harvested for tea.
The young tender leaves can also be harvested and used for culinary purposes. These parts are most often used as greens in salads and used in other recipes, rather than in tea.
What To Harvest
The tiny flower heads are the main part of the chamomile plant harvested for tea.
It’s important to catch the flowers at just the right stage, when they are in full bloom.
Harvest them in this prime state for best steeping results.
The best stage to harvest is when the ray florets, which are the white petals on the outside of the flower, are pointing straight outwards, horizontal to the flower.
This is the freshest stage of the flowers, and best stage to harvest for tea.
As the small blooms begin to age, the ray florets will begin to bend backwards towards the stem of the plant.
This stage is less ideal for harvesting, as some of the blooms may have been pollinated, and have already begun to form chamomile seeds.
When To Harvest
Harvest the chamomile flowers in their freshest state.
The best time of day to harvest is earlier in the day, when the blooms are the most hydrated. Harvest after the morning dew has evaporated.
Although you will be eventually drying them, it’s always best to pick the flowers in the most ideal condition.
Harvest on a dry day, when there is no mist or rain in the air.
How To Harvest
The process for harvesting chamomile blooms is very simple.
All you need is a pair of clean scissors or snips, and a basket or bowl in which to place the harvested blooms.
With a pair of scissors or snips, cut each bloom identified for harvesting right under the flower head, removing it from the stem.
Collect all of the blooms that you intend to dry.
Wash The Blooms
Any herbs harvested from the garden can have small bugs or pieces of garden debris or dirt.
A good rinse in cold water will help to remove these extras from the chamomile flowers.
Once washed, set the flowers on a clean towel or on a piece of paper towel to dry.
Drying Chamomile Flowers For Tea
There are a number of different methods to dry chamomile flowers. These include air drying, and dehydrating, in either the dehydrator or the oven.
One of the easiest ways to dry chamomile is to air dry the flowers.
The blooms are small, and easily dried using this method.
Set the flowers out in a single layer on a plate or baking sheet, and set in a warm and dry space out of direct sunlight, to dry.
The flowers will dry out completely within several weeks.
Chamomile flowers can also be dehydrated using either a food dehydrator or an oven, on a very low setting.
Dehydrating In The Food Dehydrator
Drying in the food dehydrator is quick and easy.
One thing to keep in mind, since the flowers are so small and lightweight, is that using a dehydrator will blow the tiny blooms all around during the dehydrating process.
This process is not as gentle as air drying, or even drying in the oven.
A lined dehydrator tray can help to prevent too much movement of the small white flowers.
Dehydrator temperature settings should be low, at 105°F to 125°F, or even lower.
Drying time will vary depending on the type of dehydrator, the temperature setting, as well as the size of the blossoms and moisture content.
The flowers will generally dry within one to two hours. Dry a little longer if needed.
Check on the flowers throughout the drying process, and remove them when they are completely dry.
They are dry when they are crispy to the touch.
Allow the flowers to cool to room temperature before storing them in an air tight container.
Dehydrating In The Oven
To dehydrate chamomile in the oven, use the lowest oven setting. The lowest temperature will dry, rather than cook, the chamomile blooms.
The lowest setting on my own oven is 170°F. This temperature setting works well for dehydrating.
If your lowest oven setting is too warm, you can also prop open the oven door slightly to allow some heat and moisture to escape while the blossoms are drying.
Set the flowers on a baking sheet, in a single layer.
Dry the flowers for one to two hours in the oven.
Make sure the flowers are completely dry before removing them from the oven.
Allow the flower pieces to cool down before storing them in an airtight container.
Store The Dried Chamomile
Once the chamomile flowers have been completely dried, they can be stored in an airtight container, such as a sealed glass jar.
I like to store dried chamomile flowers in mason jars, for an attractive display.
Label the container with the storage date.
Place the container in a cool and dark place, such as a pantry.
Dried chamomile is good for up to one year.
How To Make Tea From Dried Chamomile
The great thing about having your own dried chamomile is that you can make a cup of chamomile tea at any time you wish.
Knowing that the chamomile is from your own garden adds that extra special touch.
To make tea from dried chamomile:
- Place a teaspoon full of dried chamomile flowers inside a tea ball or tea bag.
- Steep in a cup full of hot water for 4 to 5 minutes.
- Try not to over steep, as this can lead to a bitter flavor in the tea.
- Add honey to taste if sweetness is preferred.
- Enjoy and relax!
Do You Have To Dry Chamomile To Make Tea?
You do not have to dry chamomile to make tea. Chamomile tea can also be made using fresh flowers harvested from the plant.
For a cup of tea using fresh chamomile flowers, place one teaspoon of freshly picked flowers into a tea infuser.
Steep in a cup of hot water for about 4 to 5 minutes.
If you find that the fresh flower tea is not quite strong enough, add a bit more to your next cup of tea, or steep the fresh flowers just a little longer ( but beware of bitterness the longer you steep ).
I find that the dried blooms create a darker color and a stronger flavor than the fresh blooms. This makes sense, as there are actually more flowers in the same volume of dried chamomile as the fresh.
The dried blooms have just shrunken in size as they have dried. They will expand and rehydrate as they are steeped in a tea ball.
Is Chamomile Tea Bitter?
Different types of chamomile can have different flavours, with some being more bitter than others.
German chamomile tends to be more bitter than Roman.
The key to reducing bitterness is to steep the right amount of tea for the right period of time. Try not to over steep if your chamomile tends to be bitter.
Remove the infuser from the cup of tea after the steeping period is done, so that it does not over steep.
If the tea is bitter at a five minute steep, cut it back to four minutes the next time, and so on, until you get the flavor right for your own chamomile tea.
Dried Chamomile Recipe Card
- chamomile flowers
- baking sheet
- food dehydrator
- Harvest the chamomile flowers in their freshest state, when the white petals are horizontal to the stem.
- The best time of day to harvest is earlier in the day, when the blooms are the most hydrated.
- With a pair of scissors or snips, cut each bloom identified for harvesting right under the flower head, removing it from the stem.
- Collect all of the blooms that you intend to dry and place them in a basket or bowl.
- Rinse the flowers in cool water to remove small bugs or pieces of garden debris or dirt.
- Once washed, set the flowers on a clean towel or piece of paper towel to dry.
- Flowers can be air dried for 2 weeks, or dehydrated for 1 to 2 hours in either a food dehydrator or in the oven.
- Temperature setting for the food dehydrator sould be 115°F to 125°F.
- Temperature setting for the oven should be at the lowest setting on the oven.
- Once the chamomile flowers have been completely dried, they can be stored in an airtight container, such as a sealed glass jar.
- Dried chamomile is good for up to one year.
Chamomile flowers are easy to grow and dry for tea.
Consider growing this daisy-like flower in your own home garden, so that you can make your own homegrown chamomile tea.
The dried flowers have a wonderful fruity flavour and smell. Just open up the container of dried blooms for a burst of this wonderful scent.
Making a cup of warm chamomile tea with the dried blooms is equally as simple.
Knowing that it’s your own chamomile tea made from flowers from your own garden makes the experience so much more rewarding.
Steep some chamomile tea, and sit back and relax, enjoying the delicate flavour of soothing chamomile tea.
Have you ever tried to dry chamomile for tea? Be sure to leave a comment below to share your experience.