Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) are in abundance in springtime, with their pretty yellow flowers and fluffy seedheads inviting children to make a wish. Want to make the most of your dandelion weeds? Learn how to make dandelion tea with this simple recipe!
Dandelions have been used in times of hardship as a coffee substitute. But they’re not just a “poor” cousin of caffeinated beverages. Dandelion tea is delicious, and if you have a lot of weeding to do you can make use of these weeds by making your own tea. It’s best to harvest dandelions from your own garden, so you know that they have not been sprayed with any pesticides and that the soil they are growing in is not contaminated.
The main health benefits of dandelion tea are in the fact it contains no caffeine, though traditionally dandelion has been used as a digestive aid in herbal medicine. Their long taproots mine minerals from deep in the soil, making them available to us and other plants via their edible roots, leaves and flowers.
How to make dandelion tea
To harvest dandelion:
Dandelion flowers and seedheads can easily be mistaken for other similar ones like those of catsear (Hypochaeris spp). You can easily identify dandelions by their “lions tooth” shaped leaves and russet-tinged, hollow flower stem. Catsear has a fibrous green flower stem and furry, rounded leaves.
Harvest older plants – at least two years old – for making tea. Dandelion taproots are long, so a hori hori garden knife may help to lever them out. Don’t worry if you don’t get the whole root, it will grow back into another plant for you to harvest next year. The only part of the plant that you need to use for dandelion tea is the root. You can make another tea of their leaves, however we think they are nicest in salads.
Strip the roots of their leaves and flowers, and compost or use fresh in a salad.
Clean the roots:
Scrub dirt off roots well. Rinse them clean. Slice into rounds, around .5mm thick.
Roast the roots:
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Place dandelion rounds on a baking tray and roast for five minutes, keeping an eye on them to ensure they don’t burn. They will turn a rich brown colour and smell divine.
Grind the roots:
You can grind the roasted roots easily in a grain mill or mortar and pestle. Store in an airtight jar until you are ready to use.
To make dandelion tea:
Add 1 Tbsp of ground roots to a small pot. Add 1.5 cups of water and bring to the boil. Allow to simmer gently for 3-4 minutes. Pass through a tea-strainer and flavour with honey, spices and milk to taste. Enjoy!