Health Is Beauty

My Love Affair with Chamomile: Growing and Making my Own Tea

Harvesting my chamomile flowers.

I’ve always been a bit, as they used to say back in the day, “high strung.” This was the old fashioned way of acknowledging that some of us are more prone to anxiety than others. While I have a bunch of tools at my disposal, including meditation, regular exercise, and Cognitive Behavioral techniques (I made the decision early in my 20’s to eschew any of the pharmaceutical solutions to my issues – I just really, really don’t like taking pills for anything), one of the most pleasurable ways for me to take a ‘chill pill’ is to quietly enjoy a cup of chamomile tea.

Wild chamomile growing in Colorado. Via Flickr User TheotherPaul.

I can’t remember when I first started drinking it, but not only does it soothe rumbly tummies, it definitely relaxes me in a significant and noticeable way (and for skeptics, there’s real science to back up the ‘folk remedy’ claims). If I drink a chamomile tea later at night, on a plane, or when I am tired from travelling — really any time I need to get to sleep but feel agitated — it will ease me to sleep pretty effectively. Though if I drink it during the daytime, it will just mellow me out.

I love everything about chamomile; the beautiful little flowers (the fact that they are flowers!), the warm, honey-like aroma, the slightly sweet and always mellow taste, and that it’s not only a wonderful drink, but that the pretty tiny-daisy like flowers are used in beauty products (to naturally calm skin).

Over the years, I’ve become a bit picky about the quality of chamomile that I like to drink, and can’t really enjoy a cup of tea made from mashed, dried-out, years-old flowers that don’t even resemble tiny blooms anymore. So this year I picked up a small plant from Gilbertie’s Herb Garden in Westport, Connecticut, and started growing my own (I chose German Chamomile).

The results are nothing short of totally lovely; I have been growing and harvesting my chamomile flowers for two months now from just one plant, and it looks like I will have a tin full before winter sets in. It’s quite pretty growing from a large planter, but I’m going to put it in the ground and it should overwinter. Right now, my plucked flowers are drying, but they should be ready for tea in a few weeks — just when the weather turns cold.

Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.