Hop flowers are the yellowish-green female flower bracts of a tall vine in the hemp family. The organic hops we offer are suitable for use in brewing beer (classified as strong bittering hops with high alpha acids) as well as a dietary supplement.
Humulus lupulus L.
Botanical Family: Cannabinaceae
Common name: Hops
Synonyms: Hop, English hops, common hop, lupulino (Spanish)
The Plant: The hops plant is a perennial climbing vine that grows up to a foot a day under good growing conditions: plenty of water, rich, deep soils, warmth and sun. The leaves are large, rough, and hairy, and the tough stems spiral clockwise as they grow, covering a trellis or -- in the wild -- fences and trees.
During the Middle Ages, it was discovered that hops could be used as a preservative for beer. Later it was found that it could be used as a flavoring.
The hops plant is dioecious, meaning that male and female flowers grow on separate plants. In order to prevent the fertilization of the flowers and the development of the heavy fruits, only female plants are cultivated for beer.
Many named varieties have been developed specifically for use in beer. Nearly a million pounds of hops flowers are grown in the United States for this purpose, based on their alpha acid content (bittering principle) and aroma characteristics.
Hops flowers are comprised of the plant's cone-like fruits or strobiles. These are harvested when firm and still a nice, yellow-green color, generally in late summer. The strobiles must be dried quickly to preserve their delicate constituents.
Hops flowers for the brewing industry are milled and pressed into granules and are not suitable for herbal use. Since more than 95% of the hops crop is processed in this manner soon after harvest, good quality hops flowers for herb use are not always readily available, despite the large, worldwide harvest.
Constituents of Note: Hops flowers contain 15 to 30% of a hop resin called lupulin, 1 to 3% essential oil, flavonoids (such as quercetin, kaempferol) and bitter acids (humulone and lupulone).
Quality: Hops flowers (strobiles) are cone-shaped and consist of overlapping, papery bracts. The herb is readily identified by the characteristic glandular plant hairs (trichomes) that contain the orange-yellow resin or lupulin; these can be seen on whole hops flowers by pulling back the bracts. Hop flowers should be light green. Yellow or brown hops have been harvested late, often causing the bracts to open and the valuable resin to drop out.
The flavor of hops is strong, aromatic, and bitter, and the aroma is strong and aromatic. It's important to store hops flowers in a cool, dark, air-tight, moisture-proof container and to replace them every year, as they have a shorter shelf life than many other herbs.
Regulatory Status: GRAS (Title 21 182.20) as a natural flavoring and Dietary Supplement
Did you know? The hops plant is in the same family as marijuana, Cannabinaceae. Because of this relationship, experiments grafting hops onto marijuana plants have been successful. Hops, however, do not have any of the cannabinoids (constituents responsible for marijuana’s effects), and grafting hops onto marijuana does not change that.
Directions: To use as a tea, pour 1 cup boiling water over 1 teaspoon of hops flowers. Cover and steep for 10 minutes.
Suggested Uses: A calming herb, hops flowers naturally promote relaxation*. They are used as a tea (particularly before bedtime) to combat restlessness and tenseness.
Hops flowers are also used in poultices, sleep pillows, herbal bitters mixtures, and herbal baths.
Hops extract is an ingredient in skin-care preparations and is used as a flavoring (in very small amounts) in some prepared foods.
This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Caution/Safety: The Botanical Safety Handbook* classifies hops as:
Class: 2d Some writers advise against use in depression.
Per the German Commission E Monograph** for hops, there are no known contraindications, side effects or drug interactions.
*Michael McGuffin, ed., American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook, (New York: CRC Press, 1997)
**Mark Blumenthal, ed., The Complete German Commission E Monographs, (Austin TX: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998
Origins: Hops flowers are cultivated in temperate regions of the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Our certified organic hops are Pacific Gem variety (with an alpha acid content range of 13 to 16%), and are cultivated in New Zealand.