Manzanilla tea has been used to treat everything from fevers and colds to anxiety and insomnia, according to the American Botanical Council. This herbal, caffeine-free tea is easy to prepare and comes in both loose-leaf form and in teabags in just about any grocery store.
But if this tea is so popular, why does it sound unfamiliar? You probably know manzanilla tea by another name: chamomile, says Lisa Moskovitz, RD. Manzanilla is a Spanish-grown chamomile but doesn't differ from the herbal tea that may already be in your cabinet.
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What Is Manzanilla Tea?
The manzanilla or chamomile plant belongs to the daisy family and can be found in Roman and German varieties, according to the American Botanical Council. While Roman chamomile isn't usually used for tea (you can find it in perfumes), German chamomile is the type you'll find in stores.
You might also see German chamomile called wild chamomile, true chamomile or Hungarian chamomile, among other names, according to the American Botanical Council. But while the wording may be different, they all refer to the same daisy-derived plant and are nearly identical in flavor and function.
Health Benefits of Manzanilla Tea
Manzanilla tea is most commonly known for its relaxing and soothing properties, often used to promote good sleep.
However, the evidence is mixed when it comes to the sleep benefits of manzanilla. Compared to a placebo and to three other herbal remedies — valerian, kava and wuling — chamomile did not have any significant advantage on sleep quality in people with insomnia, according to a December 2015 meta-analysis published in Sleep Medicine Reviews.
On the other hand, one small October 2015 study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing found that chamomile tea may help improve sleep quality and depressive symptoms in postpartum women. After 40 women drank chamomile tea for two weeks, they experienced less fatigue than those who did not consume any sleep-promoting supplements.
Manzanilla tea is also thought to help soothe or alleviate digestive unrest, but the evidence in this area is limited. Researchers found that the herb showed antidiarrheal properties after feeding rats chamomile extract, according to a March 2014 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.
Chamomile may also be beneficial for lowering inflammation, according to a small October 2017 study published in Progress in Nutrition. After people with rheumatoid arthritis had two teabags' worth of chamomile tea twice a day for 42 days, researchers found they had fewer painful, inflamed joints.
Read more: What Are the Dangers of Chamomile Tea?
Side Effects of Manzanilla Tea
Manzanilla tea is generally safe to drink — even on a daily basis, Moskovitz says. But some people still need to be careful with chamomile.
- If you have allergies or reactions to herbs, grasses or plants of any sort, err on the side of caution before you drink manzanilla tea.
- Warfarin, a blood thinner, may interact with chamomile and cause adverse symptoms, according to a March 2014 article published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
- Cyclosporine, an immunosuppressant drug, has also been shown to interact with chamomile, causing elevated levels of the drug in the blood when the two are taken together, according to a January 2014 article published in the Journal of Toxicology.
- If you're pregnant, consult your ob-gyn before drinking herbal teas or taking supplements, Moskovitz says. Consult your pediatrician before giving the tea to young children.
Read more: Side Effects and Benefits of Chamomile Tea
Preparing Manzanilla Tea
While most tea comes pre-packaged in a small bag, you can also prepare your chamomile in loose-leaf form. Try this method, suggested by Claudia Sidoti, principal chef at HelloFresh.
- Remove the flower head from the stem.
- Rinse the chamomile flowers in warm water and pat dry.
- Boil water in a tea kettle or large pot.
- Place flower petals in an infuser (use a teaball or a cheese cloth) and steep in the water for about 5 minutes. Optional: Add a sprig of mint for extra flavor.
- Remove the flower petals and enjoy!
Fresh chamomile flowers work best for brewing tea, according to Sidoti, but if you need to store them, wrap the petals in a wet paper towel and place them in an airtight container. Use within 48 hours.
Picking a Manzanilla Tea
Although there aren't many factors that set one manzanilla tea apart from another, you can choose between loose-leaf tea, tea bags and even blends. Try these options, available on Amazon.
1. Harney & Sons Chamomile Herbal Tea
Harney & Sons makes a popular chamomile variety that comes in packages of 20 tea bags. The brand creates its own herbal blend with Egypt-derived flower heads.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $9.57
2. EarthWise Aromatics Chamomile Flowers
If you're not a fan of preparing your tea out of a sachet, EarthWise Aromatics makes a 1-pound organic loose-leaf blend.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $12.99
3. Tiesta Tea Lavender Chamomile
Tiesta Tea's caffeine-free blend combines loose-leaf chamomile and lavender. The brand promises a stronger flavor than other packaged varieties.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $11.99
- American Botanical Council: "Introduction to Chamomile"
- Sleep Medicine Reviews: "Herbal Medicine for Insomnia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis"
- Journal of Advanced Nursing: "Effects of an Intervention with Drinking Chamomile Tea on Sleep Quality and Depression in Sleep Disturbed Postnatal Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial"
- Journal of Ethnopharmacology: "Antidiarrheal and Antioxidant Activities of Chamomile (Matricaria recutita L.) Decoction Extract in Rats"
- Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: "Updates on the Clinical Evidenced Herb-Warfarin Interactions"
- Journal of Toxicology: "Cyclosporine and Herbal Supplement Interactions"
- Progress in Nutrition: "The Effect of Chamomile Tea Consumption on Inflammation Among Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients: Randomized Clinical Trial"