No more will you have to complain about those pesky dandelions messing up your lawn or casting their seeds to the utter extremities of your yard. You may, perhaps, begin to hope that more of them will grow even aiding their seed dispersal through your garden beds.
For what many gardeners see as a weed, herbalists have been capitalising on its many benefits and drinking its tonic-like properties for millenia. We’re talking about dandelion tea, of course. It’s a herbal tea produced from this annual weed that has some wonderful characteristics and beneficial qualities.
While you may have been cursing it growing throughout your garden, perhaps even spraying it with a selective herbicide or worse – glyphosate, many gardeners are beginning to latch onto the idea that this oft free gift is just that – a free gift. I’ve never heard any gardener complain that they couldn’t get dandelions to grow in their yard. Usually, it’s the opposite viewpoint.
Yet, with a change of perspective, those dandelions could be seen as the ultimate natural ingredient for many of our ailments. Those dreaded yellow flowers can easily become the elixir-of-life known as ‘dandelion tea’. Pregnancy, menstruation pains and bloating, constipation, liver complaints and even weight-loss have been eased by drinking regular cups of this tea – and by regular, I mean one per day. It’s a natural herbal tonic that offers laxative and diuretic properties and helps reduce toxins and gases in the body.
So, how do you make dandelion tea?
Most dandelion tea is made from the root of the dandelion weed or the yellow flowers. Dig up a few of these weeds, wash out any grit and soil and then cut away the foliage. Then the roots and flower petals can be steeped in boiling water for 2-3 minutes before being drained off. You can leave them in the pot for longer but the bitterness will increase if you leave them too long.
As dandelions mainly grow and flower towards the end of winter through late summer there will be a period where fresh stock can’t be obtained. In this case, dry some surplus roots and store in a cool location to get you through the autumn and winter months. Dandelion tea made with dried root will taste considerably stronger, so you shouldn’t need to use as much, but it will also have a darker colour – mere aesthetics.
Dandelion tea bags are another option for months when this herb doesn’t grow and they are often sold in grocers or online. The tea bags usually come in packs of 30 allowing you a month’s worth of stored tea.
Are there any side effects to drinking dandelion tea? Sure, like anything it should only be taken in moderation. If you consume numerous cups per day then instead of benefiting your inner organs you could instead be harming them considerably. Also, if you’ve used chemical herbicides or pesticides on these plants then more rigorous washing is needed before you make a tea out of them. In fact, I would even suggest that you leave them alone altogether, just to be safe, and then begin harvesting dandelions from the next season onwards.
It goes without saying that dandelions found in public open spaces may also be contaminated and should probably be left alone as well.