Sunday, March 29, 2015

How to make dandelion root tea, and why everyone should drink it

There are many reasons to drink dandelion root tea, and it's fun and easy to dig your own roots, dry them, and make them into a delicious drink – even use it as a coffee substitute! You can use the whole plant: roots for tea, greens for salads and soups, flowers in wine and syrup.



It's no wonder dandelion is one of the top six herbs in the Chinese herbal medicine chest. Why? It is packed with vitamins A, C, D and B complex, many minerals like zinc, iron and potassium, and is super high in calcium. It's a famous liver tonic, healing and nourishing this important organ. It is celebrated as a great blood builder and is often used as a treatment for anemia because it's so high in iron and zinc. Dandelion helps maintain regularity because of its mild laxative properties, helps skin problems, detoxifies poisons and toxins, and helps digestive problems. It even lowers cholesterol! Some people use dandelion for viral infections and cancer.


Wow, right?

When she was pregnant with me, my mother was hospitalized for three months because of jaundice. Talk about liver issues! Every single acupuncturist I've ever visited says that I have weak liver chi and a blood deficiency. Some of this is probably genetic (thanks, Mom!), and some of it has to do with the fact that I gave birth to three children. So whatever I can do to build up my blood and nourish my liver, count me in!
Enter the lowly dandelion. Although many consider it a weed, healers respect and love it.  I like its German name so much better: Loewenzahn, which means lion's tooth, implying its power.  I love dandelion root tea and drink it daily. So instead of ordering it at Mountain Rose Herbs, which I have done for years, I wanted to dig and prepare my own this spring.

Let me show you how.



The good news is that dandelion grows everywhere - you can see it growing in the crack of sidewalks.  Find a spot where no pesticides were sprayed.  I am fortunate to live in the wilderness where everything is pristine, so I visited my friends who have a huge organic pasture, framed by gorgeous mountains.  It was hard to dig dandelions, because all I wanted to do was pet the little piglets that watched me.



I think digging is easiest when the soil is wet, because the shovel inserts easier and the root can be separated from the soil better, but it definitely is muckier.  Never mind!  Nutrients from this muddy mess were absorbed into the lovely dandelion roots, which we will absorb into our bodies!  
Dig right next to the leaves and lift up, teasing out the tap root.  Dig as many roots as you can.  It helps to have other people digging nearby, so you can catch up on gossip.  It also helps to have piggies watch you while you dig.  Resist the urge to pet the pigs every five minutes.  You came here to dig dandelion roots, didn't you?



The next step is washing all the mud off.  It's nice to do it outside so mud doesn't get splattered all over your sink.  Just drop the plants into a bucket with cold water and slosh things around.  Rinse.  Repeat.  Rinse.  Repeat.  Do it as often as you have to do make the water run clear-ish.





At that point, I cut off the green dandelion leaves and put them in a different container to dry them separately (for tea and soup).  I scrub the roots with a sponge, but you can also use a brush.  Whatever is easiest to get most of the dirt off.




Now the roots go into my Cuisinart food processor (or cut them by hand, but seriously?  If you have a machine, use it).  Pulse them til they are cut into small pieces, preferably kind of uniform size, but if not, don't sweat it.



After the roots are nicely chopped, spread out this mess on a cookie sheet.  Put it in the oven at 250 degrees and leave the oven door open so that moisture can exit.  Stir the roots every half hour.  It takes about two hours to dry and roast them this way.  Don't let them burn.




You don't have to chop them up or roast them, by the way.  When I did my first batch, I washed and scrubbed the roots and put them in a food dehydrator whole.  I dried them on medium heat (about 130 degrees) for several hours.  You know they are ready when the roots easily snap into pieces when you break them.  



I like the oven method because it roasts the roots and gives them a deeper color and flavor.  You can run them through a coffee grinder if you want everything to be ground - remember, it's a coffee substitute.

To make the tea, put about 2 Tablespoons of root in a pot with four cups of water.  Some people say to use 1/3 cup of root to 4 cups of water.  It depends on how strong you want your tea.  Cover with a lid, bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes or longer.  



Pour this tea through a strainer, put some honey and cream or rice/almond/soy milk in the drink, sit down by the wood stove, put your feet up, and enjoy.  Know that your liver and blood are being strengthened as you sip!





PS: I dry the leaves as well, then use them dried in soups and tea.  Use your preferred method of drying: I put them in the food dehydrator on low heat for a few hours, and that did the trick.



What is your favorite way to detox in the spring?

13 comments:

  1. I like Dr. Beiler soup. But I have to get the ingredients from the Natural Food Store because my garden isn't in yet. (grn beans, celery, parsley and zucchini). The dandelion probably tastes a bit "medicinal", right? I have switched from black tea to honeybush tea from Africa. It's like rooibos but lighter flavored. We don't really have dandelions around here. We have star thistle which as far as I can tell is only good for the beekeepers.

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    1. There's a link in the post where you can order dandelion root. It's Mountain Rose Herbs, and they are great. Yes, this spring time is hard, isn't it, when you don't have your own veggies growing yet and you have to buy them... I have lots of kale and collards right now, that's all!

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  2. It's a great article or post and to be shared with every one.. My only criticism is that it need not be s substitute for coffee which also has numerous benefits, more antioxidants then green tea, and a good preventative for several cancers, including diabetes. Let's drink both!

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  3. And to think I pulled them all out (massive tap roots and all) and fed them lock stock and barrel to my goats! Next time I will save thebest ones for me! :)

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    1. Well... I bet it's really, really good for the goats, too!

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  5. Looks delicious in the Stephen Murray mug! Happy Springtime from the Cuseos in Colorado!

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    1. Yes, it's a Sauk Mountain Pottery Mug! Happy springtime right back at you!!!

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  6. Amazing blog and very interesting stuff you got here! I definitely learned a lot from reading through some of your earlier posts as well and decided to drop a comment on this one!

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  7. Dr. Perlmutter who just published his new book "Brain Maker" recommends dandelion greens: "Dandelion greens are a rich source of prebiotics. Buy a bunch of these greens for the week and add them to salads and vegetable dishes." I use them in soups and smoothies too. Thanks for sharing the process Corina. You are awesome!

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  8. Tuyet, what great validation! Thanks!

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  9. What you're saying is completely true. I know that everybody must say the same thing, but I just think that you put it in a way that everyone can understand. I'm sure you'll reach so many people with what you've got to say.

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