Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Truth about Dandelion Coffee and Tea

Dandelion coffee (also dandelion tea) is an infusion or herbal tea, and coffee substitute, made from the root of the dandelion plant. The roasted dandelion root pieces and the beverage have some resemblance to coffee in appearance and taste.

Dandelion coffee was mentioned in a Harpers New Monthly Magazine story in 1886. In 1919, dandelion root was noted as a source of cheap coffee. It has also been part of edible plant classes dating back at least to the 1970s.

Harvesting dandelion roots requires differentiating 'true' dandelions (Taraxacum spp.) from other yellow daisy-like flowers such as catsear and hawksbeard. True dandelions have a ground-level rosette of deep-toothed leaves and hollow straw-like stems. Large plants that are 3–4 years old, with taproots approximately 0.5 inch (13 mm) in diameter, are harvested for dandelion coffee. These taproots are similar in appearance to pale carrots.

After harvesting, the dandelion roots are dried, chopped, and roasted. They are then ground into granules which are steeped in boiling water to produce dandelion coffee.

Dandelion coffee is said to be a good tonic for the liver. A bitter tonic made from the dandelion root is also used as a laxative.

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