Botanical name: Matricaria recutita
Native origin: Southern and Eastern Europe, and Western Asia.
Part Used In Our Teas: Flowers
A common garden flower with very uncommon soothing and calming properties, chamomile grows up to 2 feet tall with daisy-like flowers and fine, feathery foliage. The word chamomile comes from the Greek word meaning ‘earth apple’, from chamomile’s sweet apple-like scent. Chamomile’s efficacy comes in part from its essential oil, which works to calm the nervous system and ease digestion, relaxing jangled nerves and twitchy stomachs.
Did you know? The aroma of chamomile is powerful, too. Breathing it in is thought to be deeply relaxing, and some people sew it into dream pillows.
Some of our favorite organic fair trade chamomile comes from Royal Ottoman Farms, including farms that are spread over 4,000 acres in Egypt.
Who would think that this pretty, happy-go-lucky little flower would represent the struggle, and success, of western herbal medicine? A common garden plant, chamomile played a key role in easing fear of natural remedies as “witchcraft” and familiarizing people with using herbs for health.
During the Medieval Period, Western Europe stopped having contact with the Middle East and India and became isolated and withdrawn from other cultures and especially medical traditions. Being too connected to nature was seen as “witchcraft”. Walled gardens became a way to protect people from the wilds of nature. They also became the place where an herbal revolution started to take place. Abbess Hildegarde von Bingen, an avid herbalist and widely considered the first woman physician in Germany, started educating people on the use of natural remedies. Under her influence, chamomile became an important and widely used plant, established in home gardens and becoming a go-to ingredient in home remedies for its ability to aid digestion and relax the body. It became a staple in even the most witch-averse of households, and paved the way for people to accept more forms of herbal medicine.
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The majority of our organic, fair trade chamomile comes from Royal Ottoman Farms in Egypt. Royal is a dedicated Fair Trade producer and goes above and beyond the requirements to meet the certification. The company reinvests more money than Fair Trade requires back into the community, and uses a percentage of their profits towards improving the quality of life for employees, offering benefits and support for things like continuing education classes, language classes and transportation to and from work.
We’ve chosen our source carefully to make sure both the quality of the herb and the quality of life for the growers are maintained. Over several decades, Royal has increased its farming land to include 4000 acres across Egypt. Both soil and water samples from these certified organic farms are collected and inspected annually by both Naturland and ECOA.
This is one case when being blue is a very good thing. Chamomile is packed with an effective essential oil that includes the compound chamazulene, which is a deep, azure blue when distilled. Good quality chamomile will have high amounts of this essential oil, which is concentrated in the flowering tops. Our pharmacopeial-grade chamomile blends are made just from flowers and have high amounts of this lovely oil, so every cup soothes and relaxes the way it should. Our microscopist first examines our chamomile to identify it, including checking for the presence of oil droplets. We then distill the herb in the laboratory to see and measure the beautiful, deep blue oil which is associated with its effect.
See those little yellowish oil globes around the tips? We see a quality marker in the presence and richness of these oil droplets. They’re precursors of the blue essential oil.
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