Now that the weather is getting colder and the night is coming earlier, I love a nice, comforting hot drink in the evening. However, coffee beyond three o’clock in the afternoon will wreak havoc on your body clock. Rather, I reach for something that will promote a restful sleep. My go-to warm drink is a soothing mug of tea de manzanilla.
Also known as chamomile tea, it is known to alleviate stress and cure insomnia, among many, many other things. I love a nice mug of tea de manzanilla on a cold winter night! Just inhaling the floral scent brings me back to a vibrant field of flowers.
Here’s how to make your own tea de manzanilla two ways – with fresh and dried flowers, so you can enjoy a cup all year round.
What you will need
- Fresh or dried chamomile flowers – be sure that they are organically grown, without chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Best if you grow them yourself!
- Boiling water
- Small sieve or tea strainer
- Optional: honey, mint, lemon
Take your pick
There are many commercially packed manzanilla or chamomile teas available in the market, but picking your own flowers ensures that you have the freshest tea.
Here are some great tips to picking the right flowers (source).
- The best time to pick flowers is in the morning – anytime between 6 a.m. to 12 noon. Choose the best flowers of the lot, discard any damaged ones.
- Soak the flowers in bowl of cool water. Some insects or other dirt might float to the surface, making them easy to remove.
- Run the flowers through a strainer and try to remove as much moisture as possible.
- Be sure that the stems are cleanly removed from the flower heads.
- Note that it is best if the fresh flowers are used immediately. If you absolutely must keep them, store them in the refrigerator, in a plastic bag, with a damp paper towel (source).
Manzanilla actually means “ground apple” (source) and you can enjoy the fruity undertones only when making manzanilla tea from fresh flowers. The fresh flower tea is also much sweeter, and not bitter at all like the dried variety may be.
A good teapot to use is one with a fancy built in infuser. The clear teapots with infusers are particularly nice because you can see the pretty flowers steeping.
However, you can also do your steeping in a separate container, then strain it through a fine sieve into your teapot.
- Bring your water to a boil. A good rule of thumb is to take eight ounces of water for each cup of tea.
- Measure four tablespoons of fresh chamomile flowers for each cup that you want to make. Obviously, the more flowers you use, the stronger the tea, so finding your perfect blend will be a matter of trial and error.
- Pour the boiling water into your teapot and stir in the flowers. You can throw in a little sprig of mint, too. Any variety of mint will do, but if you can get your hands on some apple mint, try it out, as it will bring out those apple tones from the chamomile even more. Let steep for five minutes, so the water absorbs all the sweet, fragrant goodness.
- Add honey to taste, and a squeeze of lemon, too.
While fresh is almost always best, dried manzanilla flowers are wonderful for enjoying chamomile tea in the dead of winter – perhaps, when we would appreciate a hot cup of tea the most (source).
- After cleaning the flowerheads, dry them on paper towels. Preheat your oven to 200º.
- Place your flowers on a tray lined with baking paper. Be sure to lay them out separately.
- Once your oven is warm, turn it off. Place your tray of flowers on the bottom rack and let them dry slowly.
- Check in regularly. The flowers should be completely dry in a few hours. If not, remove the tray, turn the oven back on, turn off when warm, and slide the tray in once more until thoroughly dry.
- Store the dried flowers in a cool, dry place, in an airtight container. It will last you four to six months!
- To prepare, simply add one tablespoon of dried manzanilla flowers to three cups of boiling water. Cover and let steep for five minutes
- Strain well and serve with honey and a slice of lemon. You might even want to give your tea a little extra kick with a squeeze of lime (source).
Tea de manzanilla is not just an invigorating drink. It also has many healing properties. This is because chamomile flowers contain medicinal oils including matricin and bisabolol, among others.
These substances have antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and sedative properties, making manzanilla a powerful, all-around natural remedy.
It is so potent, in fact, that chamomile is considered a medicinal drug in some countries (source).
Here are some benefits of drinking manzanilla tea:
- Ease menstrual cramps.
Drinking chamomile tea is great for curing menstrual cramps. I love this because it’s an organic way to relive pain – no more depending on medicine. So, when you start to feel any discomfort, drink a nice warm cup of manzanilla tea. However, the best way to really nip the cramps in the bud, try to drink the tea a couple days before your period (source).
- Calm muscle spasms.
This ties in with how manzanilla tea can calm menstrual cramps as well. Studies show that the tea raises the levels of glycine, which effectively calms spasms (source).
- Helps with diabetes and hyperglycemia.
Helps fight cancer. Research shows that drinking chamomile tea can help those suffering from diabetes and hyperglycemia. There are also studies being done that show chamomile can help reduce cancerous cells (source).
- Soothes stomach aches and anxiety.
I decided to put these two together because when I am stressed out our nervous, I get stomach aches. A cup of tea soothes the nerves.
- Cures insomnia.
Here’s another home remedy that I have personally tried and swear by. It is also one of the most popular natural solutions for insomnia, which is no wonder, because it really works! No more sleeping pills needed. The calming and sedative properties of manzanilla work great, so just have a cup of hot tea about half an hour before bed and enjoy a restful slumber (source).
Not just for drinking
Manzanilla tea has so many wonderful health benefits, both when consumed and when applied topically. I even remember my mom, who has terrible hay fever and allergies during pollen season, used to put used chamomile tea bags to help soothe her rashes.
Here are some handy uses for manzanilla tea, even without drinking it:
- Treat wounds and first degree burns. This is an interesting and very useful tip to keep in mind for a quick first aid cure. Manzanilla has antiseptic properties that can kill bacteria.
In fact, ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians have been making slaves out of manzanilla to hasten healing (source).
To treat, seep some teabags in water, drain lightly, and wrap the tea bags around the affected area. Cover with gauze (source).
- Medicinal mouthwash.
If you have sensitive gums or mouth sores, you know that medicinal mouthwash often tastes just like that – medicine. You can use manzanilla tea as a natural mouthwash. Its antifungal and antibacterial properties can reduce gum inflammation and keep infections and decay away (source). Bonus, I bet it tastes much, much better!
- Promote beautiful skin.
Make a mixture of chamomile with honey and use this as a face mask or on other parts of the body. The manzanilla’s antibacterial and bleaching properties can help brighten your skin and treat acne. The honey has a moisturizing effect.
Instead of cucumber slices, try putting soaked tea bags on your eyelids! They will relieve tired eyes and even help remove dark circles (source).
- Prevent dandruff.
Having dandruff is not only embarrassing. Dealing with an itchy scalp is also very bothersome. Calm your sensitive, itchy scalp by steeping some chamomile in boiling water for 30 minutes. Add some baby oil and strain. Use this concoction as a clarifying shampoo. Rinse thoroughly (source).
- Soothe your sunburns. Apply the manzanilla tea directly on your skin to help soothe sunburns, itchiness, and any other skin irritation (source).
I hope this post helped introduce you to the delicious manzanilla tea. It is not only a lovely and delicate drink. It also has numerous health benefits. Excuse me while I steep my tea! Have a hot cup of manzanilla, let it transport you to a field of summer flowers and enjoy a deep, restful sleep.
Do you any other benefits of tea de manzanilla? Any special ways that you prepare your tea? I would love to hear about it in the comments!