Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday Mornings, Coffee and Chamomile

When I wrote coffee and chamomile in the title I realized it sounded like I was drinking some kind of gross hybrid beverage.  Let it be known therefore, that I like my coffee and herbal teas quite well and quite separately.  As you can see from the picture, chamomile here refers to the flowers I have growing on my balcony (german chamomile is better for tea than roman).  I was delighted at my last count (23 little flowers), but the size of these guys means I will likely be able to brew maybe two cups of tea in the end.  Internet searching suggests at least 2 tsp of dried flowers for a cup of tea, and these flowers are much tinier than I anticipated.  Ok, the scientist in me just got out a ruler and measured 3/8 inch diameter for the fresh flower and about 1/4 inch for the dried.  The fact that I have ANY flowers to harvest counts as a great success though, and I look forward to having two pots of these out next year.  They grow in a very tidy vertical fashion, perfect for my limited outdoor space.

Harvesting Chamomile

I am no expert, but I believe you have to wait to harvest until the white petals pull all the way back from the yellow buttons. And even then I waited some more because sometimes there was still green in the centers so I waited until it was yellow all over.  The scent of chamomile becomes stronger as it dries, I couldn't really smell much when it was fresh (maybe it was allergies too though).  The part to use for tea is the yellow buttons, but I don't plan on devoting my life to plucking away the white petals as I think they are rather pretty.  Discard the green stems.  I let the flowers dry on the countertop for a few days and then collect them into a glass jar.  Will keep you posted on how much I use for tea when I have enough.

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