Chamomile might be my favorite food group. I drink so much of it that people often raise an eyebrow in curiosity. “Doesn’t it make you sleepy?” They ask. No, it doesn’t. Unlike valerian, which is a true knock-you-out-cold herb (try it if you suffer from insomnia), chamomile is not sleep-inducing, but merely a calming herb. And while I love coffee as much as the person next to me, I also cherish my herbal infusions. Multiple times a day.
A few weeks ago, I was walking through the Rittenhouse farmer’s market, buying my year’s worth of seasonal strawberries, I happened upon a display of fresh chamomile blooms at the Tooth of the Lion Farm and Apothecary stand. Fresh chamomile is a rare sight. In fact, I had never seen any before this day, and it took me less than two seconds to engage with the friendly person on the other side of the counter.
She said the fresh blooms were a must-try, and described them as having an apple-like essence and more depth than their dried counterparts. I never thought of chamomile as having an apple-like flavor, but it makes sense: the Spanish word for chamomile is manzanilla, meaning little apple.
My favorite way to consume chamomile is in an herbal trio I like to call the Holy Trinity: 2 parts chamomile, 1 part mint, 1 part lavender. Occasionally, I will even add in a bit of verbena. I drink this Holy Trinity mixture almost every evening (usually from dried herbs). This time, I infused these fresh blooms with fresh mint and lavender from my garden, and drank it with a spoonful of raw, local honey. It was befitting of its name: divine.