Some people think that dandelion is nothing but a pesky weed that’s can ruin a perfectly groomed garden, while others consider it one of the most useful gifts from nature. While it’s true that dandelion may not always grow in the desired location, this resilient plant actually has plenty of health benefits to offer.
In fact, the earliest mention of dandelion as a medicinal herb dates back to the 10th and 11th centuries in the Middle East. It was also used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat stomach problems and other health issues. From its roots to the flowers, almost all parts of the humble dandelion can be used to make tea, soups, coffee and other concoctions that can give your health a boost.1
What Is Dandelion Tea?
Dandelion tea is an herbal tea that’s made from the roots and/or leaves of dandelion. Some people also use its blossoms to make a tea that’s more delicate in flavor.2 Aside from the difference in flavor profile, the nutritional and medicinal value of dandelion tea may also differ depending on the parts that were used to make it.
Dandelion leaf tea is often consumed for its diuretic properties, while tea made from dandelion roots is known for its ability to help stimulate the appetite and relieve liver and gallbladder problems. The flowers and stems of dandelion may also be added into the tea mixture for additional nutrients.3
The flavors and nutritional profile of dandelion tea also depend on the season when the roots or leaves were harvested. Dandelion leaves are usually picked during the spring, while the roots are often harvested in the autumn or winter season, since they’re believed to be sweeter and higher in prebiotics during this time.4,5
Since dandelions are widely available and are extremely simple to grow, you can easily harvest them to make a tea of your own from fresh ingredients. You may also opt to buy tea bags made from dried organic dandelion roots or leaves. Whichever part of dandelion you choose to brew, rest assured that you’ll get plenty of nutrients from a cup of this herbal drink.
The Remarkable Health Benefits of Dandelion Tea
With all the publicity that dandelion tea has been getting lately, one of the questions that has probably crossed your mind is, “What exactly is dandelion tea good for?” To answer that question, check out the long list of benefits that you can get from dandelion root or leaf tea:
Helps soothe digestive problems: Dandelion tea has been used for centuries to help relieve minor digestive problems, such as upset stomach, heartburn and indigestion.
It may also help relieve constipation, since it stimulates bowel movement with its diuretic properties. Plus, it may help improve poor appetite.6
Helps maintain proper liver function: Dandelion tea is considered a “liver tonic,” since it helps detoxify the liver and improve the flow of bile.7
A recent study also shows that the water-soluble polysaccharides from dandelion root may help protect the liver from hepatic injury.8
Helps reduce water retention: Drinking dandelion tea may help reduce bloating, as it can flush out excessive water weight from your body by increasing your urine output.
A study conducted in 2009 showed that the first two cups of dandelion tea causes a significant increase in the frequency of urination within a period of five hours.
Helps improve kidney and gallbladder function: Dandelion tea may help improve the health of your kidneys and reduce your risk of developing gallstones by flushing out toxins, salt and excess water through increased urine production.10,11
Aids in the management of diabetes: Researchers suggest that dandelion root may help normalize blood sugar levels and reduce bad cholesterol, so drinking tea made from its extracts may be beneficial for diabetics.12
Helps improve heart health: Dandelion tea is a great source of potassium, an essential mineral for your heart health, as it helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure levels.
Helps fight cancer: Several studies have shown that dandelion root extract may help induce apoptosis in cancer cells without affecting the non-cancerous cells in your body.13
Helps relieve inflammation: Dandelion tea provides anti-inflammatory properties, which may help alleviate swelling and other health issues related to inflammation.14
Helps reduce your risk for obesity: A study published in the Journal of Nutrition Research and Practice found that dandelion may aid weight loss by inhibiting the activity of pancreatic lipase,15 making it a safe and natural alternative to common weight loss drugs.16
In addition to the benefits mentioned above, drinking roasted dandelion root tea may also be beneficial for coffee lovers who are trying to cut down their caffeine intake, as it tastes relatively similar to coffee but provides better health benefits.
In traditional Chinese medicine, dandelion tea is also given to breastfeeding women to improve their milk flow and reduce breast inflammation during lactation. Studies also suggest that it may help boost appetite and relieve constipation during pregnancy.17 However, it’s best to talk to your physician first if you’re planning to drink this herbal tea to guarantee that it’s safe for you and your baby.
Caffeine Content of Roasted Dandelion Root Tea
As mentioned above, roasted dandelion root tea is an excellent natural coffee substitute, hence why it’s often called “dandelion coffee.” But the question is, does it have any caffeine content?
While it tastes and looks relatively similar to real coffee, roasted dandelion root tea does not contain caffeine, which is why it’s great for those who are sensitive to this compound.18,19 However, like coffee, it can also provide plenty of antioxidants, plus other valuable vitamins and minerals.
Make sure that you don’t overindulge on this herbal drink, though. While there’s no set dosage for this tea, it’s still wise to drink it in moderation, since consuming it in excessive amounts may cause side effects like dehydration.20
How to Make a Cup of Fresh Dandelion Tea
Looking for a cheap substitute to store-bought dandelion root tea bags? Look no further than the dandelions in your garden. You can put these plants to good use by making your own cup of tea. Here’s how you can make dandelion tea using its fresh leaves, according to a recipe from Mama’s Homestead:21
1. Collect around six pieces of young and tender dandelion leaves. Wash them thoroughly under running water then pat them dry with a paper towel.
2. Cut the leaves into small pieces then put them in a cup.
3. Pour boiling water and steep for five to 10 minutes.
You may opt to drink your dandelion tea as is or serve it with a slice of lemon or orange. You may also sweeten it with honey, but make sure that you only add in a small amount since it is high in fructose.
Hearty and Comforting Dandelion Tea Recipe That You Should Try
Aside from making a simple cup of dandelion tea, there are also other ways to enjoy this herbal drink. Here’s a delicious and comforting chai recipe from The Kitchn that you will surely enjoy sipping on:22
Dandelion and Chicory Chai
1. Combine the water, dandelion root, chicory root, peppercorns, cardamom, ginger, clove and cinnamon in a saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and then simmer for five minutes.
2. Add the milk and honey, then increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Keep the saucepan uncovered.
3. Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it into a cup. Discard the solid particles, and serve the drink immediately.
The recipe above is not only rich in flavors, but it’s filled with nutrients too. It only takes a few minutes to make, and is great for a single serving. You can easily double the ingredients if you want to make more for your family or friends.
Here’s How You Can Store Dandelion Tea for Later Use
You don’t need to brew your dandelion root or leaf tea all at once after harvest, because you can actually preserve and store these ingredients for a long time, as long as you dry them first. When drying dandelion roots, make sure that you wash each root thoroughly before chopping them into small pieces. You may either use a dehydrator to dry the chopped roots, or you may simply place them outside under the hot sun until they’re all dried out.
You can also put them in the oven for two to three hours, with the temperature set to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the roots have been dried out, put the root tea in an airtight glass jar and store in a dry place, out of direct sunlight.23
Preserving the dandelion leaves is easier. You just need to wash the leaves thoroughly and pat them dry with a paper towel. Spread the clean leaves on a tray, and then leave them in a warm room or air cupboard to dry. Be sure to turn the leaves occasionally. After they’re all dried up, store them in an airtight glass jar out of direct sunlight.24
Common Side Effects of Dandelion Tea
While dandelion leaf or root tea is considered generally safe to consume, it may still cause a few side effects, which include:
Increased stomach acid
You may also want to avoid dandelion tea if you’re allergic to ragweed and other related plants, such as chamomile, chrysanthemums and marigold, since it may cause allergic reactions like itching, rashes and runny nose. If you’re taking medications or supplements, make sure that you consult your doctor before drinking dandelion tea, as it may interact with several drugs. This herbal drink is also not recommended for people with kidney problems and gallbladder disorders.25,26
Make Sure That Your Dandelion Tea Comes From Safe and Organic Sources
Making homemade dandelion tea may be fun and inexpensive, but you have to keep in mind that not all dandelions you see on the ground are beneficial for your health. This hardy weed pops up almost anywhere — from your well-kept backyard to the dirty street gutter.
If you’re planning to harvest it for consumption, make sure that you use plants grown in a clean area that’s free of pesticides, herbicides and other harmful pollutants. As much as possible, avoid those that grew near the roadway, and refrain from brewing the neighborhood dandelions unless you’re absolutely sure that chemicals weren’t sprayed on them.27,28
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Dandelion Tea
Q: Is dandelion tea safe?
A: Yes, dandelion tea is considered safe for most people, as long as it’s consumed in moderate amounts. When consumed excessively, it may cause a few side effects, such as abdominal issues and dehydration. It may also trigger an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to dandelion and other related plants. To ensure your safety, it’s best to consult your physician before drinking this herbal tea.29
Q: How do you drink dandelion tea?
A: Dandelion tea is best enjoyed when it’s freshly brewed. You can serve it hot or cold.30 You may also mix it with other healthy ingredients, such as lemon, cinnamon and honey, for additional flavors and nutrients.
Q: What does dandelion tea do for the body?
A: Dandelion tea has long been used to help soothe digestive ailments, such as poor appetite, constipation, upset stomach and indigestion. Its diuretic properties also make it useful for reducing water weight and flushing out toxins, salt and excess water from the kidney. Plus, it helps detoxify the liver by increasing the flow of bile.
Studies have also shown that dandelion tea may help fight certain types of cancer by killing the cancer cells without affecting the non-cancerous ones. It may also help regulate blood sugar levels, relieve inflammation, improve heart health and maintain normal blood pressure levels.31
Q: How do you use dandelion root tea?
A: You can drink dandelion root tea as is or mix it with other herbal preparations to enhance its nutritional value. Roasted dandelion root tea may also be used as a natural substitute to coffee, since they both have the same taste, color and antioxidant properties. The only difference is that dandelion root tea does not contain caffeine.32
Q: How often can you drink dandelion tea?
A: There is no set limit on the amount of dandelion tea that you can drink per day.33 However, it’s wise to limit your consumption to three cups a day to prevent any adverse side effects.34
Q: Where can you buy dandelion tea?
A: Dandelion tea bags are widely available in groceries and health stores. Store-bought dandelion tea may be a little pricey, though. If you’re looking for a cheap alternative, you can make your own homemade dandelion tea using dandelion greens and roots that come from safe and organic sources.