Dandelion Root Tea

Dateline: 20 January 2015

If you live close to the earth and pursue a lifestyle of self-reliance to some degree, there are definite times and seasons for doing things. When a task is not done in season, you miss your opportunity. This was almost the case for me last fall when it came to digging dandelion roots for making my yearly supply of "root-tea" (as I call it around here).

In This Past Essay I told how, after years of thinking about it, I actually put some initiative into digging, drying, and roasting dandelion roots for the first time in my life. It so happened that there was nothing hard about any of it and the finished product is something I like very much. I like the flavor, and I like the fact that the tea is good for a body (the liver especially).

Based on that experience, I determined that making my own root-tea must needs be a part of my seasonal routines, like making apple cider in the fall, and maple syrup in the spring. My understanding is that the dandelion roots are best dug in the late fall, after a frost, and before the ground freezes.

But late last fall, with a snow storm approaching, and knowing that the ground would surely freeze, I had still not dug a supply of dandelion roots. It was nearing dusk, the wind was bitter cold, snow flakes were in the air. I grabbed a garden fork and a bucket and headed off, on foot, through the woods, to my field.

My field is chock full of weeds, including plenty of dandelions. They are healthy, organic, wild dandelions. I dug roots until there was so much snow on the ground that I could not identify which weeds were dandelions.

I processed the roots exactly as I showed in the essay link above. But instead of roasting the ground roots right away, I thoroughly dried them in a food dehydrator. Then I roasted them later.

I am confident in my digging, washing, chopping and drying abilities. But the roasting part seems to be one of those skills that requires some time and experience to know how it is best achieved. I think I have a tendency to over-roast, to the point of burning the little bits. But I haven’t yet ruined a roasting. Just come close.

I equate this roasting of the roots to the first few times Marlene and I made maple syrup years ago. Finishing it off on the stove was something of a mystery and we were plenty nervous about it. But, in time, we’ve come to “understand the syrup.”  Now finishing and jarring maple is a familiar process that we do with knowledge and efficiency.

One of the nice things about having a cup of root-tea in the evenings is that I can share the routine with my grandson, Futureman, when he is here. I add cream and maple syrup to the tea, and he loves it.

To Futureman, the root-tea is "fawky" which is his word for coffee (he doesn't drink real coffee, of course). We're working hard at learning him how to pronounce the word more accurately. Since he has no problem saying "cow" we are referring to root-tea as "cow-fee." The strategy is showing promise.

I suppose that learning to properly pronounce words at nearly-three is much like learning to roast your own dandelion root tea at nearly-fifty-seven. These things take time. And then, one day, it’s an easy, natural part of life.


An At Home Daughter said...

Futureman is so cute!

Reminds me of several year back my Sister and her kids moved back in with our Parents and I while her Husband was sent to Korea. We had a lot of fog that Winter and every morning my tiny niece would look out the window and comment in her tiny little high pitched voice about the fog to my Mom, and ask her if she was drinking coffee. It came out Gamma it's focky (yes with an O )outside. You drinking copy?
I miss having her around since they moved away.


Jonathan Sanders said...

After learning from the video you linked last year, I am now a regular partaker of this beverage. I really enjoy strong black coffee, but I also like to sleep. I drink dandelion root coffee in the evening and get the pleasure of coffee without the caffeine.

I once let some roots get kind of dry just by leaving them in the frig for a few weeks, and never could get them to grind properly. I like to process them while fresh using a "Ninja" processor. I follow the old guy's instructions pretty closely - I probably let it smoke a little more before calling it done, but mine looks like coffee both in the jar and in the cup. I purchased empty tea bags which make the brewing quick and neat. (T-Sacs from

Roasting is certainly the secret; last winter I ran out and bought some bulk dried root, but since it wasn't roasted, it tasted terribly bland.

You bless many with your folklore and wisdom - Thanks, -Jon in Indiana

Lorraine Barnett said...

You never cease to enlighten me. I thank you!! I'm gonna need to try this brew! It would be wonderful to have a nice hot cup of Cow-fee in the evening!

Elizabeth L. Johnson said...

What I care about in seeing a picture of Futureman; so nice to see him back in your life. Will continue praying for him and his folks!

Herrick Kimball said...

Hi Kimberly,
Thank you for the comment. Little children can really brighten up our lives with their actions and words.

Very good. It's nice to know my blog post inspired you. The tea bags are a good idea. I've been meaning to try that. I now use a French Press for making coffee and root-tea, not the pour-through-strainer method I started with.

Yes, give it a try and see what you think. Maybe it is only cow-fee when milk or cream is added.

Your prayers on behalf of Futureman are greatly appreciated. Others have written saying the same. We take him back to his mother today, after being here for three weeks. It has been a good 3 weeks. I think he will be back again soon.

magnoliasntea said...

I tried dandelion root coffee last year for the first time after reading your article, also, and I really enjoy it. I don't care for digging the roots, but it's a means to an excellent end. I brew it just the same as the man in the video. I've never used a French Press - am I missing something?
I have to mention your American Made clothespins while I'm here: They are the best, most substantial clothespins I've ever owned. Thank you!

Jonathan Sanders said...

It is funny how embracing something like Dandelion root changes your perspective. I have an "organic" lawn, and I now get excited when I see big Dandelion clusters blooming. Instead of thinking about killing them, I think about harvesting them.

BTW, I have discovered a pretty nice way to surgically remove them from the lawn. Drive your shovel straight down to full depth about 1-2" away from the plant. Rock the shovel back until you feel the "pop" of the root at shovel depth. Pull the shovel back out and you should be able to wiggle the root out. It leaves a bit in the ground, but we want them to grow back!

Herrick Kimball said...

The French press is just a simple, easy way to brew a cup or two of coffee and it works for dandelion tea. I've been meaning to blog about it. Will do so soon.

Thank you for the positive feedback on the clothespins!

You are now thinking and acting in a more contra-industrial way. The neighbors may get alarmed if they find out you are actually consuming weeds.

Your digging method is logical, as long as you can put the shovel in the ground without hitting a rock. My field is so stoney that a shovel doesn't work as well as a fork. But I think your idea will still work to some degree with a fork.