Dandelion Tea: Introduction
Most people view dandelions as a weed that is a complete nuisance; however, this little plant can pack a positive punch. The dandelion is actually classified as a wildflower and it is a perennial plant. Dandelion tea has become increasingly popular and several recent studies have uncovered additional benefits for this amazing herbal tea. There are two primary methods for preparing this tea, and both of them have several benefits. The first method uses dandelion flowers (and possibly leaves), and the other uses the plant’s roots. Hopefully, this post will change your perception of dandelions and transform them from your lawn’s enemy to a useful ingredient for herbal tea.
Dandelion Tea: The Ultimate Guide
Since dandelions are common in most temperate climates, you probably already know what they look like. For those of you that don’t…
Dandelion leaves can be 10+ inches long and have jagged edges. The flower heads are usually bright yellow or orange. They are commonly open during the day, but they are closed at night. The flower heads are 1-2 inches wide and consist entirely of ray florets. The stems are long and skinny and may leak a milky latex when punctured. Over time, the flower heads mature into white round seed heads. These light airy domes are commonly referred to as blowballs (pictured below). For those of you that have seen kids pick these up, you know the name is appropriate.
Dandelions evolved about 30 million years ago and are native to North America, Europe and Asia. The common name dandelion is actually a butchered attempt at matching the original name of this wildflower. The French are responsible for naming the plant dent de lion, which is translated as “lion’s tooth.” This is a reference to the jagged leaves that are an integral part of this plant. The genus name Taraxacum originated from the Persian word tarashaquq.
Dandelion tea has been consumed by humans for over a thousand years. The first reference of consuming this tea was included in the ancient medical texts of Arabian physicians around 900-1000 AD. It was commonly compared to leafy vegetables. Over time, the tea spread to Europe, where the Welsh also used it for its medicinal properties. The Chinese doctors used dandelion tea to treat several digestive disorders and appendicitis. They also used it to enhance the milk flow of breastfeeding mothers.
Dandelion tea was a popular beverage for American colonial settlers, and they even taught the Native Americans how to prepare it. The plant was easy to find, and they also used it to treat several medical conditions. The Indian tribes created their own preparation methods, and these methods varied between tribes:
The Iroquois consumed the tea with large meals to improve digestion.
The Ojibwas drank the tea to prevent and reduce heart burn.
The Kiowa Tribe women consumed the tea paired with pennyroyal to reduce stomach cramps and PMS.
List of Benefits & Uses
Dandelions have several herbal tea benefits that have been shown to significantly impact overall health & well being in a positive way.
Antioxidants: Dandelion tea naturally contains several antioxidants. Antioxidants help the body eliminate free radicals. Some of the antioxidants found in dandelion tea include sesquiterpenes, phenolic compounds, and flavonoids. This results in the tea boosting the immune system and increasing overall health & wellness.
Anti-inflammatory: Many people consume dandelion tea to help with aching joints and muscles. Consuming this tea after an intense workout can help reduce muscle soreness. Some people have even used the tea to help with headaches. The active compounds helping achieve these effects are bisabolol, apigenin, and luteolin.
Improved Digestion: One of the primary reasons people consume dandelion tea is to help detoxify their liver and improve digestion. Dandelion tea is a diuretic which helps the body’s digestive system eliminate waste more rapidly. This helps reduce bloating due to water retentionDandelion tea also boosts healthy liver enzymes. If you feel like your digestion needs a boost, drink a cup of this amazing tea!
Assist Weight Loss: The boost to the body’s digestive system mentioned above can also lead to other benefits. The tea also contains active compounds that break down enzymes responsible for absorbing fat into the body. These two factors lead the tea to be excellent for weight loss. I suggest drinking this tea in combination with other healthy diet and exercise to maximize the positive weight loss effects.
Reduced Blood Sugar: Diabetes has become one of the most common ailments, and this condition can be extremely dangerous. Maintaining a level blood sugar level is very important for people suffering from diabetes. Dandelion tea has been shown to help keep blood sugar levels consistent and reduce large variations. The research into this benefit is in its infancy, but the early studies show promise.
Bone Strength: Dandelion tea contains several beneficial minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. These minerals are all effective at increasing bone strength and helps prevent & combat osteoporosis. This is especially beneficial for older women because they lose bone density at the highest rate. Consuming these minerals can help you avoid breaking bones as you get older.
Increased Circulation: The iron contained in dandelion tea is a very important mineral. The iron helps your body manufacture red blood cells. People with low iron can suffer from anemia, which can cause fatigue and weakness. By consuming this tea, you are helping your body absorb more oxygen which can help you stay energized.
UTI Treatment: Many women suffer from urinary tract infections, which are extremely uncomfortable and irritating. It is extremely unfortunate for those that suffer from them regularly. Many times UTI’s can be debilitating and make people miserable. Thankfully many herbal teas can help reduce the occurrence of these unpleasant infections. Dandelion tea helps increased urination which assist the kidney and urinary tract staying clean. This makes the chances of an infection much lower.
Possible Cancer Benefits: Several recent studies have been completed analyzing the dandelion root’s affect on cancer cells. The preliminary results are promising and exciting. A study published last year (2016) included in-vitro testing of dandelion root extract that was very effective at inducing “programmed cell death selectively in 95% of colon cancer cells.” There were similar studies completed that documented dandelion root extract’s similar affect on Melanoma (2011) and Pancreatic Cancer (2012). These studies were completed by the University of Windsor in Canada. Although dandelion tea wasn’t specifically used in these studies, the chances of similar benefits are high.
Possible Side Effects
Dandelions are closely related to several plants that can cause allergies and allergic reactions. These members of the same family include ragweed, chamomile, and marigold. If you suffer from severe allergies, consult with your doctor prior to drinking this tea. this will help you avoid a potential allergic reaction. If you are allergic to these plants, or to dandelions themselves, you should probably avoid use of this tea, unless you receive permission from your allergist/doctor. This tea can also enhance blood thinning medications such including OTC pain relief headache medicine such as NSAID’s and acetaminophen. Be careful before consuming this tea with any of those medications. If you are pregnant or may become pregnant, you should also use caution and consult with your doctor.
Dandelion Tea Taste
Dandelion root tea has an appearance similar to coffee, which is why it is also known as dandelion coffee. The taste is also comparable to coffee, but it is smoother. The tea is easier to drink because it is less bitter and less acidic. The tea obviously doesn’t contain caffeine, and it is sometimes used by people trying to quit drinking coffee. Dandelion root tea blends often include roasted barley rye, chicory root and sugar beet. This can help add some sweetness to this bitter tea. I suggest adding your own personal sweetener to the tea, such as honey or sugar. I enjoy honey because its natural sweetness creates a tasty flavor profile and a wonderful aftertaste.
Dandelion Tea Recipe
If you plan on using dandelions from your yard or gather them from another natural area, make sure that the weeds haven’t been treated with any chemicals or pesticides. I would also verify that animals have not recently defecated or urinated in the area, unless you want those flavors added to your tea.
Dandelion & Lime Tea (Can be served hot or iced)
This recipe is perfect for either winter or summer, because it can be served hot or cold.
Ingredients for 2 Servings:
1 Cup of Fresh Dandelion Flowers (No stems or leaves)
3 Cups of Boiling Water
1 Limes, Juiced (you will only need the juice)
2 Tablespoons of Honey (or desired sweetener)
Step 1: Gather 1 Cup of Dandelion Flowers and place them in a colander. Now, rinse them under the sink with cool water to remove dirt and debris.
Step 2: Pour 3 Cups of water into your teapot and bring to a boil. Carefully pour the boiling water into a medium/large pot.
Step 3: Add the 1 Cup of Dandelion Flowers to the water pot, and allow to steep for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. This is where the preparation steps differ depending on whether you are serving hot or iced tea. Proceed to the appropriate steps below:
Steps for Consuming Hot Tea
Step 4: Use a strainer and pour the mixture into your desired tea cups. The strainer will remove the debris and soppy flowers from your tea.
Step 5: Add lime juice and honey (or desired sweetener). Now your tea is complete, enjoy!
Steps for Consuming Cold Tea
Step 4: Add the honey (or desired sweetener) and lime juice to the pot and continue to steep and stir for 1 minute.
Step 5: Allow the pot to cool for 10 minutes, and use a strainer to pour the mixture into a pitcher or other container. The strainer will remove the debris and flowers from the tea.
Step 6: Place the pitcher or other container in the fridge and allow it to cool for 1-2 hours. The tea is now ready to serve with ice (optional). Now your tea is complete, enjoy!
Dandelion Tea: Conclusion
We need to spread the word and help people realize that dandelions are not evil plants sent by Mother Earth to invade our precious lawns. These plants can be used to treat several common ailments and conditions. Consult with your doctor before consuming this tea.
Feel free to share your experiences or questions below. It will help us all learn and grow!