An overview of Dandelion Tea
Spring and summer are announced by dandelion flowers popping up left and right all over the world, letting us know that warmer weather is just around the corner – and is here to stay for a while.
Growing wild pretty much everywhere on earth (with the exception of the Arctic and the Antarctic), a couple of nations – particularly Bulgarian, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and even the United Kingdom – have actually commercialized the growing of dandelion flowers, in large part to turn them into dandelion tea.
Used as traditional all-natural medicine, with the first recorded use of dandelion for this specific purpose cropping up around 659 BC, dandelion has been used as a medicinal herb in the United States and in China – as well as pretty much everywhere in between.
In fact, some of the oldest recorded examples of a dandelion being used as a tea and as a medicine come from the Arab world. Arab medical experts throughout the 10th century used dandelion widely in their treatment protocols, helping to establish it as a medicinal herb in West when trade routes start to be established between these disparate cultures.
As highlighted above, the Chinese also traditionally used dandelion in a variety of different ways.
Considering it to be an energizer as well as a medicinal herb that could dry and cool the skin, ancient Chinese doctors recommended dandelion tea to clear away “heat” from the liver and the digestive system to help restore and rejuvenate the body from the inside out.
The same Chinese practitioners used dandelion tea as a mood enhancer, as a ceremonial beverage, as well as a solution to help improve and support women that were lactating.
In the United States, a number of indigenous Native American cultures took advantage of dandelion as well. Some used it as a gastrointestinal and digestive aid, others used it as a soap or as a poultice, and others still took advantage of dandelion tea to soothe sore throats and to fight back against illness and disease.
Interestingly enough, it was these Native American cultures that made the first clear distinction between young dandelion greens and old dandelion flowers as far as using these elements as medicine more concerned.
Young dandelion greens were eaten whole (as part of a salad) for the most part to take advantage of its more delicate medicinal properties, whereas older dandelion flowers were brewed up into a tea-like beverage and consumed for the same purposes.
Tips for Making Dandelion Tea
There are a lot of approaches you can take to working dandelion into your daily diet, but brewing it into a tea is probably the simplest and most straightforward approach – as well as one of the most delicious!
Similar in flavor to chamomile or nettle teas, if you like flowery tea already the odds are pretty good that you’re going to enjoy a glass of dandelion tea every now and again.
The first thing you’ll need to do is get your hands on dandelions to begin with.
Fresh spring and summer dandelions are the best approaches to take, and you’ll want to make sure that you get your hands on dandelions stems as well as dandelion flowers. There are different medicinal properties to both of these components of the plant and it’s best to “mix and match” these elements when brewing your cup of tea to get everything you can out of it.
In the springtime and in the summer getting these flowers isn’t going to be a problem at all for the overwhelming majority of people. The odds are pretty good that you can simply go out to any grassy area (including your front yard) and pull up a handful of dandelion flowers without any issue whatsoever.
Sourcing fresh dandelion for this tea can be a bit of a tricky situation in the fall and throughout the winter, but as highlighted above a number of nations actually grow dandelion crops commercially, pre-dry their dandelion flowers and stands, and sell these products internationally all year round.
After you have sourced your dandelions, though, you’ll want to go through this quick process to brew up a cup of dandelion tea.
Cut up your dandelion flowers and dandelion stems into smaller chunks, washing them (with cold water) ahead of time just to make sure that they are free and clear of dirt, debris, and anything else they may have been exposed to outdoors in the wild.
If you’re using commercially available or dried dandelion flowers and stems you can skip this step.
Next, you’re going to want to add all of your dandelions components into a cup or mug. You will want at least a tablespoon of dandelions for every half cup of tea you are looking to produce.
From there, simply pour boiling water (212°F) over the dandelion components in your cup and mug. Give the entire boiling concoction 30 minutes to steep, really allowing all of the biochemicals, flavor agents, and aromas in the dandelion parts to come out into the tea itself.
After 30 minutes have passed you’ll want to strain out the roots, stems, and the flowers of the dandelion that you have used (or remove your dandelion teabag/looseleaf tea components). Some people choose to leave these components in the mug and drink them up with the rest of the tea, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that approach if you’re interested in doing so.
A little bit of honey can be added to the tea mixture for a touch of sweetness, too. But the odds are pretty good that you’ll already find dandelion tea to be plenty sweet and may not be interested in overwhelming the delicate flavors and aromas of this flower with something as “heavy-handed” as honey.
Some people take an extra step when making dandelion tea. These folks chop up and then roast the individual dandelion parts at about 300°F for 120 minutes or so, letting them get pretty dark and pretty brown. Then they follow the steeping instructions above, creating a dandelion tea that’s a lot more like a dandelion coffee than anything else – but still pretty delicious and with a distinct flavor profile you won’t find anywhere else!
Dandelion Tea Health Benefits
Dandelion tea offers a whole host of health benefits that you’ll be able to enjoy almost immediately, some of the more pronounced than others but all of them contributing directly to your wellness in the short and long-term.
Here are just some of the biggest benefits you’ll be able to take advantage of when you are drinking dandelion tea on a regular basis.
Protect Your Bone Density
As we get older we lose some of our bone density, and the only way to resist this kind of degradation of the body is to make sure that we are pumping as much calcium into our bones as possible.
Dandelions are very high in calcium and drinking dandelion tea on a regular basis can significantly increase your overall dietary intake. In fact, researchers have conclusively found that dandelions contain 10% of your entire recommended daily value of calcium – which means that drinking a couple of cups of dandelion tea every day can get you 20% to 30% of the calcium you need very quickly.
Extra Vitamin K
Vitamin K is a big piece of your nutritional puzzle, a fat-soluble vitamin that not only helps to protect your bones (similar the way that we highlighted above) but also improves your overall heart health as well.
Unfortunately for most, vitamin K can be a little bit difficult to come by when eating the Standard American Diet. Thankfully though, dandelions have over 500% of the daily value you need – meaning just a single cup of dandelion tea will cover all of your bases here!
Cleans and Protects Your Liver
A properly functioning liver is such a huge part of a healthy and happy life, with this organ responsible for breaking down fat and detoxifying our body and our bloodstream. Our livers are also responsible for the majority of the heavy lifting when it comes to breaking down amino acids, metabolizing fat and cholesterol, and regulating many of our core internal functions.
If overloaded with stress, however, our livers can start to slow down their production and their efficiency. This is going to put your short and long-term health in jeopardy pretty quickly and isn’t a situation anyone wants to find themselves in.
Dandelion tea has a variety of biochemicals and phytochemicals that work to support the healthy function of your liver. You’ll be able to enjoy some pretty significant liver boosting benefits when you drank dandelion tea on a regular basis.
At the end of the day, there is a myriad of other health-boosting benefits and restorative properties that you’ll enjoy when you are drinking dandelion tea consistently.
You’ll be able to fight back against diabetes, clear up your skin and your complexion, flood your body with health-boosting antioxidants, and enjoy a significant bump in your dietary fiber intake.
Combine that with dandelions being a great source of vitamin A, dandelion tea serving as a diuretic to help you even out your blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and the fact that dandelion tea is proven to help prevent urinary tract infections and it’s easy to see why it’s as popular today as it is.