When I was very small, we lived in the country. We had 10 acres of land with a few creatures of field and coop all nestled in a shallow river valley. The summers were hot, the winters were cold. Autumn smelled like bonfires. But the Spring was golden with butter cups and chamomile. There was one particularly flowery hillside that connected the lower pasture to the upper pasture. That short slope of grass, once nibbled by horses, later abandoned and left to grow wild, would grow quietly as the brown winter grasses were replaced by tender bright green ones and then, as if overnight, it would be a blanket of yellow. Shiny and petite, the buttercups would carpet the hill and beneath and between them would be the sweet smelling yellow buds of the chamomile. I would spend hours there in the sunshine, bees buzzing about, picking chamomile buds to bring back to the kitchen for tea.
Chamomile tea is said to promote relaxation and give the drinker a sense of calm. There is nothing more calming than warm spring sunshine on your face, sitting in a field of chamomile, believe me. Nowadays my chamomile fix comes in a bag, dried and fragrant. Once dried chamomile is not as honey-sweet or as brilliantly yellow as fresh, but it still steeps into a golden cup of relaxation.
As much a I love chamomile hot, perhaps with honey, possibly lemon, I think it really comes into its own when steeped, cooled and mixed with gin. Sounds weird? If you are a gin drinker you’ll understand the part that is played by plants, herbs and other aromatics in the making of gin. That’s what gives it its distinctive flavour. Strong chamomile tea, slightly sweetened plays perfectly with the gin and makes for a unique and refreshing cocktail as the weather warms up.
Chamomile Gin Fizz
1 Tbsp (heaped) chamomile buds, steeped in ½ C boiling water for 5 minutes
½ tsp honey
4 oz of your favourite gin, divided
ice in chilled glasses
2 wedges of lemon
Steep the chamomile in the boiling water. Discard flowers. Stir in honey and dissolve while the liquid is still hot. Allow mixture to cool completely.
Fill 2 tall “collins” glasses with ice and chill.
Once the chamomile tea is sweetened and cooled, divide between the glasses. Add 2 oz gin to each. Top up with club soda. Garnish with lemon wedge.