Are you addicted to coffee and looking for a healthy alternative? Believe it or not, the answer may simply lie in your backyard–dandelion roots! Actually dandelion root tea. Those pesky dandelions can be used as a coffee substitute with the added benefits of vitamin A, B, C, and D as well as iron, potassium and zinc. Plus, the leaves are delicious in salads. So let’s get busy digging and make roasted dandelion tea.
First thing first. Let’s talk about the medicinal value of dandelions and why I go to great lengths to dig mine up.
Dandelion’s Medicinal Value
For years, herbalists in different countries have used dandelion roots to help alleviate certain aliments. The Native Americans boiled the plant and used it to treat kidney disease, skin disorders and upset stomach. In Chinese medicine, dandelions were given to help with digestion and milk production in nursing mothers. Whereas, European herbalists use dandelions to treat boils, diarrhea, diabetes, and eye problems. Nowadays, dandelions are mainly used to stimulate appetite, as a diruectic, and for gallbladder and liver issues.
According to the University of Maryland, there aren’t any qualified scientific studies on humans to evaluate the healing powers of dandelion. Most studies have used animals.
However, the University notes, dandelion root can act as mild laxative and can be used to improve digestion. The University further notes that preliminary animal studies indicate that it may help normalize blood sugars and lower total cholesterol and triglycerides while raising HDL (good) cholesterol in diabetic mice. However, not all animal studies have confirmed this virtue.
Other animal studies have shown that dandelion helps with inflammation.
Dandelion Precautions and Interactions:
With any herb, please consult your medical or holistic provider. Taking dandelion may cause an allergic reaction or may interact with medications. Please be aware of the following:
- If you are allergic to plants in the ragweed family, such as yarrow, echinacea, ragweed, chrysanthemums, and daisy, you may also be allergic to dandelions.
- Interacts with patients taking lithium, antibiotics, blood thinning drugs, medication changed by the liver, and water pills and diabetes.
- If you are pregnant or nursing
- May interact if you have issues with your kidneys or gallbladder
- May cause heartburn
How to Make Dandelion Root Tea
I like to roast dandelion root. It give the otherwise bland root a nutty flavor. When it roasts it smells like chocolate. (Or am I simply dreaming?)
1. Dig Those Dandelion Roots Up
It is quite simple to make your own dandelion root tea. I dig up my roots in the fall and especially right after it rains. The roots are bigger in the fall. At that point, the plant is focusing on its roots.
[Maybe you should add digging up dandelions to your fall garden maintenance list!]
I dig up the roots in my garden beds where the soil is much easier to work with. I have clay soil so I don’t relish the thought of digging up roots from virgin soil. The roots are quite long. Don’t worry if you don’t get the whole root.
Truth be told, I dig them up in the rain since the soil is saturated from the water. I dug up about 50 of them a couple of weeks ago. I take them anyway I can find them, large or small.
Don’t throw away the leaves. Either use them in your salad or dry them to make dandelion tea. I use the leaves as one of the ingredients in Every Day Mojo Tea that I sell.
2. Wash them Well
There will be a lot of dirt on the roots so set aside time to wash them well and cut off their leaves.
3. Grind them Up
I have a Blendtec but a small food processor may work. I like to grind up the roots to dehydrate them. They dry faster when they are small pieces. Some people just dry the roots and then grind them.
When the roots are straight from the ground, they are pliable and softer. When they dry, they are harder to work with.
4. Dry Them.
You can either air dry them, put them in a dehydrator, or oven dry them at the lowest temperature. I prop my oven door open with a knife and set the temperature to 135 degrees. They will dry overnight.
5. Roast Them!
You can either grind them at this time or roast them. Be very careful not to burn the roots. They will smell like burnt roots. Simply roast them at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. I roasted them for 10 minutes and I think they smell a little burnt.
The smell of roasting dandelion roots is so good.
6. Store and Use Them.
Store them in a dry, cool place. I use one of my spaghetti jars. Many say it is a nice change to drinking coffee without the caffeine. It does have a smoky taste similar to chicory.
Use 1 teaspoon per 8 ounce cup. Enjoy!
In case, you think the idea of digging up dandelions is not your thing, you can buy roasted dandelion tea HERE.
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