Whole Chamomile flower heads - a calming infusion
Chamomile is a member of the daisy family, and many people swear by it as an aid for relaxation and sleep, especially in the evening. Its mild, floral character is certainly a world away from the caffeinated pick-me-ups of tea and coffee.
Since ancient times chamomile has been a popular treatment for a range of ailments such as anxiety, insomnia, digestive complaints, cold symptoms and others. Scientific studies of the effects of chamomile on humans have been too few and inconclusive thus far to claim a medical basis for the traditional claims, and as such they still have the status of folk remedies.
But I can officially confirm it’s great for rats. Recent studies on rodents have found chamomile to have anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial effects, to speed up wound healing and lower cholesterol – which is surely good news, even if you aren’t a rat.
Many chamomile blends, especially tea bags, contain finely ground chamomile that resembles dust. But we don’t – we use nothing but whole chamomile flower heads, which deliver a mellower, smoother flavour. (Not the petals though. I’ll be honest, we don’t go out and collect the flowers ourselves. We buy them in, and we don’t know where all the petals go. It would be nice to think that somewhere out there a very earnest little boy with a blanket is plucking them she-loves-me-not fashion, but it’s unlikely.