When it comes to the world of herbal teas, chamomile sounds like an old friend. The name is familiar, reminiscent of late nights in the kitchen, winding down for bedtime. Hands wrapped around a steaming mug, inhaling the sweet aroma, fruity and floral - the perfect bedtime drink.
But bedtime isn’t all chamomile is good for! This versatile, antioxidant-rich tea has many qualities, from supporting your immune system to relieving aches and pains. In this article, I’m going to share:
- Which chamomile is used for tea
- The differences between the two main types of chamomile tea
- The health benefits of chamomile
- Where chamomile comes from
- Which chamomile tea is best for you
- More important facts about this classic beverage
Read on to learn what chamomile can do for your body!
What's the Difference Between German and Roman Chamomile?
Some may be surprised to discover that there are multiple chamomile varieties. However, only two of them are commercially used and consumed for pleasure and medicinal value - German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile).
All the other species of chamomile are considered garden varieties, weeds, or used for oil extraction.
German and Roman chamomile have many similarities, but also some striking differences. Regardless of which cuppa you enjoy, there are benefits galore!
I'll get into some of these different health benefits later. For now, though, know that they are different species, are grown in different ways, and have slightly different properties.
You may occasionally find German chamomile referred to as Hungarian chamomile, wild chamomile, blue chamomile, or scented mayweed. Some of Roman chamomile's aliases include English chamomile, low chamomile, and garden chamomile.
Health Benefits of Chamomile
Still valued today, chamomile's medicinal use can be traced back thousands of years, all the way to ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome.
Herbalists know both the German and Roman chamomile varieties are attributed with the following properties:
- Stops the growth of bacteria (bacteriostatic)
- Helps relieve flatulence (carminative)
- Relieves muscle spasms (antispasmodic)
- Helps dissolve and eliminate mucus (making it an excellent choice for chest colds).
These benefits are why chamomile is often considered an excellent herbal remedy for relieving cold symptoms and helping to support the immune system.
You're probably still wondering, 'Stephany, what actually are the differences between German and Roman chamomile?' When it comes to chamomile many of the differences lie in the benefits.
German chamomile is good for skin, and can be beneficial when used as an essential oil (which is contained in small amounts in the teas).
Some other German chamomile benefits include:
- Improving digestion
- Helps with menstrual symptoms
On the other hand, Roman chamomile helps with:
- Mood swings
Roman chamomile also has antiemetic properties, meaning it can help with nausea and vomiting.
While chamomile isn’t as high in antioxidants as some other teas are, it still contains plenty of these free radical-busting molecules, which only add to its benefits.
To learn more about the antioxidants in chamomile and what they do, check out my post about antioxidants in rooibos, honeybush, and chamomile.
Where Does Chamomile Come From?
Chamomiles hail from diverse areas such as western Europe, western Asia, and India, though they are found as far afield as Africa, the Americas and Australia.
Egypt is a main cultivar of chamomile, and provides some of the highest quality plants fed by the rich environment. All of our chamomiles sold at Matcha Alternatives are ethically sourced from Egypt - the best of the best!
However, it's important to note that “Egyptian chamomile” is not a third variety of chamomile tea - it's just German chamomile that happens to be grown in Egypt.
Incidentally, Roman chamomile is harder to grow on commercial scales, and is more commonly used in gardens rather than tea.
Which Chamomile Tea is Best for You?
Like we discussed earlier, Roman chamomile is harder to grow on a commercial scale, meaning that you'll find it easier to get ahold of German chamomile. From a simple purchasing perspective, German chamomile is more convenient.
Both varieties of chamomile have similar health benefits, but they differ in some of the key ways mentioned above, which might sway your decision depending on what you want to get out of your chamomile.
One thing to note is that Roman chamomile is associated with inducing labor. German chamomile, on the other hand, has relaxant effects and has not been observed to cause any harm during pregnancy, despite wide consumption by pregnant women.
Here at Matcha Alternatives, we only sell German chamomile.
Fun Chamomile Facts
- German chamomile has earned the title of the official medicinal variety.
- Chamomile is caffeine-free!
- Low in tannins and anti-inflammatory, chamomile can support mouth health and does not cause dry mouth - unless you over-brew it, in which case there may be an astringent, drying sensation.
- Chamomile's sedative action is less potent than the herbal supplement valerian, and doesn't cause grogginess or have withdrawal symptoms (unlike valerian). This is why it's often considered the best herbal tea for sleep.
- German chamomile has been used safely in small amounts to help children sleep.
- Both chamomiles can lighten hair and are used to add a golden tint, though German chamomile contains more apigenin, the agent responsible for the pigmentation.
- Chamomile's ORAC level is ~1000 / 8fl oz. ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, and is a scale to gauge antioxidant units.The higher the ORAC value, the higher the antioxidant level. For comparison, the same amount of Matcha has an ORAC of ~1384 (if you want to know more about ORAC levels and how they're measured, check out my post on the subject).
A Note from the Herbalist
If you're a chamomile fan, this bundle is for you! Classic pure chamomile, along with a pair of gorgeous lavender and citrus blends to help you sleep and fight off colds. Plus, save $5.50 off the regular price on the 4oz trio!
We blended chamomile with our pure honeybush tea to create a delicately sweet bedtime drink you won't find anywhere else!
Like a tropical twist? We've got you covered! This blend of chamomile, grassy bamboo, and sweet pineapple is the perfect relaxing drink.
All of the information regarding the herbs, botanicals, minerals, vitamins, etc., is information drawn from traditional use data or academic research and should be regarded as such. If you, the reader, has a health or medical concern, please consult your healthcare professional. The information found here is not meant to diagnose, treat, prescribe or cure and has not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is for educational purposes only.
Further Reading & References about Chamomile
Mills, S., & Bone, K. (2005). The Essential Guide to Herbal Safety. Philadelphia, PA: Churchill Livingstone.