Chamomile is a flowering herb from which the flowers and petals are picked and dried in order to make infusions.
Whilst generally indigenous to many regions in the world, most chamomile that you will see in day-to-day use for consumption will come from two specific varieties of Chamomile: “German” and “Roman”. These two chamomile varieties are most commonly cultivated, but probably the most highly praised is German chamomile as it is hardy, mid-coloured and strongly aromatic with apple and honey tones in the growing plant. Much of the most excellent quality chamomile available is grown in Egypt.
When referring to chamomile, it is the flower and petals of the plant that are used in infusions and that contain the flavour. The stem of the plant is less palatable and so it is easy to determine the quality of chamomile from the amount of fibrous stalk pieces included. The fewer of these, the higher quality the product.
Because of the strong apple and honey notes produced from infusing the flowers, chamomile is enjoyed by many as a standalone infusion, but these characteristics also make it an excellent ingredient when mixed with complementary flavours. As chamomile can have a distinct “cereal” flavour, it does not usually lend itself particularly well to tea mixtures as most teas are too savoury and dry to work with the subtle flavours; however it is excellent when combined with fruits and florals such as lavender, rose, orange and apple as it tends to add depth, character and mouth feel as well as distinct chamomile flavours to these blends.
Of course, no exploration of chamomile would be complete without discussing the possible health benefits of this remarkable flower. Extremely well-known for its supposed calming properties and often taken as a tonic for anxiety or sleeping problems, chamomile is also used frequently as a digestive and it is said to help with the symptoms of irritable bowel and stomach aches. Pharmacological research also suggests that chamomile may be anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antimutagenic and have positive affects upon blood cholesterol levels. So, chamomile is a floral all-rounder; delicious, distinctive and versatile. Needless to say we only ever stock full chamomile flower heads and all of our chamomile is organic. To explore some of the ways that we use this incredible ingredient, take a look at our Pure Organic Chamomile, Organic Chamomile Calm or Organic Chamomile and Lavender.
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For our version of the Bara Brith Recipe we soak the dried fruits in our favourite Tea Palace teas overnight for extra body, flavour and spice. Why not try out our recipe for yourself?
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