Dandelion Root Coffee

To brew a dandelion root coffee is not resembling anything like coffee neither is it plonking a tea bag in a cup of hot water.

I came upon dandelion root tea years ago, herbs in a teabag, and didn’t think much of it until I started to dig up the roots myself. Things get just more interesting when your own mind has a need to learn more about it. I imagine dandelion roots are just boring when you are not into it.

But behold, besides being able to use the dandelion leaves in a pesto or salad and the flowers make a beautiful yellow dye, the roots are simply delicious. The smell, once the roots are dried, is woody, strong and bold.

A wheel barrow full of the entire plant leaves me with only a small sieve of roots. After the roots are cut up in pieces and dried for a few days in the sun, its a rather sad looking harvest of the work that went into it.

How to make dandelion tea or coffee

I grind the dried pieces in an old-fashioned coffee grinder, a pestle and mortar will do too. There are several ways of preparing:

1. Boil the pieces with water in a pot

2. Using the French press, like you would do with coffee beans

3. Place the pieces in a teabag or some sort of a cloth or paper filter

1. When I choose not to grind the dried, (roasted) and cut-up pieces of root, I place them in an empty teabag, together with either grind coffee beans and yerba mate. You can also place the dried pieces of root together with dried mint, thyme or any other sort of herb to make a tea.

2. For a strong, bold, slightly bitter drink, I boil the grind pieces of roasted dandelion root, either together with some coarse grind coffee beans, in a pot with water and milk (soya).

3. Another, more pure option, (roasted) dandelion root goes well as a tea on its own. I usually add honey to sweeten.

Harvest time: the roots need to be harvested early spring or late autumn. These are the periods when the root is hefty with starch, because the plant can store energy rather than use it producing flowers and seeds.

A few facts

Dandelions are highly nutritious, being especially rich in potassium, iron, calcium, vitamins A and C and other minerals. Their long tap roots draw up minerals and other nutrients from deep in the soil. All parts of the plant are edible and medicinal. The leaves and the roots are bitter, unless blanched, but the bitterness is part of their therapeutic value.

The roots have the strongest effect on the liver. The leaves have more diuretic qualities while the flowers have a relaxing effect. Dandelions are often used for skin problems, for their cleansing action through the liver and kidneys.

Liver, gallbladder and spleen (cleaning the blood/immune system): the bitterness of dandelions stimulates digestion and cools and cleanses the liver, promoting the flow of bile (helps with digestion, it breaks down fats into fatty acids). The effect is called ‘opening’.

The diuretic effect: dandelion is the perfect -‘piss-en-lit’ or ‘pissabed’- diuretic because it is high in potassium (a mineral that your body needs to work properly, it is a type of electrolyte. It helps your nerves to function and muscles to contract.) Potassium is drained from the body when the kidneys are stimulated to pass more water. Being diuretic, dandelion has a role to play in high blood pressure as well as in swellings caused by fluid built up (this condition usually occurs in your feet, legs, or ankles).

Cancer, sleep & other: dandelion is still a remedy for urinary ulcers and detoxify the whole body, but are also nourishing and building, so the use for cancer and chronic diseases makes perfect sense. What’s more, dandelion is cooling and cleansing so would help give relief in fevers and other hot conditions.

Most information is extracted from ‘The herbalist’s bible’, John Parkinsons’s Lost Classic by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal.

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