Meet Chamomile. At Herb Pharm, we grow our own, harvest it by hand and extract much of it fresh the same day it’s picked. Here’s how it works.
Chamomile grows in hip-high rows. The field smells amazing. Gentle, familiar, floral. Like a walk-through bag of tea. We start our harvest just as the morning dew is burning off. The Chamomile flowers open wide as the sun rises high in the sky. And our team is there to pick the flowers by hand.
Here’s Clara, one of our herbalist interns, explaining how to harvest Chamomile by hand.
We use modified ‘Blueberry Rakes.’ They make a delightful ‘ting’ sound as they run through the Chamomile stems.
When the rake is full, we drop them into large bins. Here’s what the flowers look like all piled up in a bin. Yes, it smells as lovely as you imagine.
Every hour or so, we carry the bins to the shade, weigh them, then spread the flowers out on cloth blankets in the shade.
From the shade, it’s off to the facility. Luckily, our facility is just down the road form our farm. We even made a short video to show you Chamomile’s super short road trip.
At the facility, the flowers arrive to a world of Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP). That means hairnets, beard nets, gloves and testing. First the team weighs each incoming batch. Then they spread the flowers on clean cloths on the ‘slab.’
Next, Mavis from Quality Assurance gathers samples.
Mavis collects samples of every batch of every herb every day. Ultimately, this is part of the process that lets us track every bottle of herbal extract all the way back to samples of the original batch.
Meanwhile, Don from QA puts the Chamomile through its organoleptic paces. That means he uses all five senses to examine the herb and compare it to previous batches and to third-party-verified specifications.
Once the samples are taken and the tests done, the flowers go into the vertical cut mixer (VCM). It cuts the flowers, mixes them with liquid menstruum and keeps a lid on so you don’t lose vapors or essential oils. From there, Chamomile’s busy day is essentially done. It went from unfolding on the plant to mixing with menstruum in a morning. But from here, it just needs to sit and soak. This step is called macerating. It makes sure the herb is fully extracted into the liquid. The soak can take weeks.