For most of us, tea is a staple, like bread or milk. There’s nourishment to seek, caffeine too, and for most parts, that’s all there is to a cup. But on days when you’ve spent a little too long crawling your way out of traffic, being trapped in an endless soiree of meetings, and then find yourself lying in bed a little too preoccupied than you’d like to be, nothing does it quite like a hot cup of something light and relaxing. Something to help you tune out the madness of the day and get you going for the next.
That for us is a job best left to chamomile; chamomile tea to be exact.
Tea is a shortcut to relaxation, we know it as well as you. But if you want to keep the caffeine out and, restlessly enough, still get a comparable comforting experience that comes with tea, flowers provide an easy alternative to the convention. And our experience with chamomile has proven this splendidly.
All you need to know about chamomile tea
For starters, chamomile tea isn’t in fact tea. It is a tisane, a term used to describe an infusion of flowers, herbs, or any sort of botanical other than tea leaves. And the consumption of it in the form of a beverage is not really a new phenomenon. As with any culinary innovation, there’s a little bit of cultural history involved.
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For as far as one can tell, the concept of drinking chamomile tea is old as tea itself. Chamomile flowers have been deemed safe and healthy for consumption; the flowers typically simmered in hot water and the resultant brew consumed for treating common cold and fever. Even the ancient Egyptians used it as a part of their skincare regimen!
Speaking of the brew itself, chamomile tea tastes similar to stewed apples. In fact, the term chamomile is derived from the Greek word ‘khamaimēlon’ which, translated literally, means ‘earth apple’. It is the centre yellow foliage of the flower whose scent resembles cooked apples and also the reason for the flavour in the cup.
And while the brew may seem effortless and simple-looking, it’s anything but that. Chamomile tea is a proven remedy for alleviating instances of inflammation, stomach aches, fatigue, nausea, and even insomnia. Consumed right before bed, a cup of freshly brewed chamomile tea is known to aid sound sleep and help you wake up looking fresh and relaxed.
Chamomile Tea from Halmari
The sweetness of the flowers also makes them a suitable inclusion in desserts, popularly combined with custards, ice creams, cakes, and sorbets. Here, the flowers lend a lovely rounding note, sweet and resembling over-ripe or cooked apples, and like a warm tropical sun, give brightness and depth to a bite.
It’s an infinitely forgiving ingredient, so there’s no way you can add too much of it to anything. Included prudently, chamomile has the ability to elevate most [sweet] dishes, adding a kind of complexity you can only hope to win out of a chef’s conceit.
How to make chamomile tea
The simplest way about it is to toss in a few teaspoons of dried chamomile flowers in hot water, steeped for about 5-7 minutes. Since the flowers don’t lend astringency or bitterness, it’s rare to ruin a cup even if the flowers are allowed to steep for a little too long. And if you are looking to amp up the flavors, a slice of lemon or a dollop of honey should do fabulously.
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Another way to include chamomile into your tea routine is by mixing the flowers with tea leaves you normally use. In our experience, the dense flavour of chamomile complements tippy Assam black teas and oolongs really well. Combined effectively, you can enhance the sweetness and drupe-like notes of an Assam black tea with the inclusion of some dried chamomile flowers and end up with an even tastier cup.
Try Halmari’s excellent Chamomile Tea for your first cup!