I never though I'd write an ode to roasted dandelion tea. But here I am, singing the praises of this toasty, grassy, slightly bitter backyard weed.
You know dandelion—it's bunny food. The stuff that springs up, unwanted, in the middle of your lawn. A friend tells me that her Italian grandfather used to go out to the yard and pick all the dandelion leaves to make dinner—the bitter, weedy greens are particularly lovely when paired with a generous glug of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. I don't have a lawn, but if I did, I'd probably rip it out and plant a dandy patch.
A couple of years ago I stumbled across Traditional Medicinals Roasted Dandelion Root tea at the market. It brews to a deep golden brown, and is certainly not subtle: It is definitely slightly medicinal in favor. If you drink your coffee black, are particularly sugar sensitive, and take your whiskey neat, this bitter, powerful tea might very well be for you, too. The flavor is almost nutty, and it has a warm, toasty smell to it. The closest thing, tea-wise, that I know is kukicha, but that lacks the astringent quality of dandelion, which balances the warming toastiness with something pleasantly...healthy tasting.
Dandelion has long been praised in Eastern medicine as a detoxifying, cleansing green: In Chinese herbalism, dandelion is taken after a rich supper to promote digestion. I'm not qualified to promote or refute these claims, but I also don't really care about them: I love roasted dandelion for its flavor alone.
Recently, I made a big new move, and tried Dandy Blend. Unlike the bagged tea I've come to love, Dandy Blend is a mix of dandelion root, chicory root, barley, and rye. It was created by a natural health practitioner named Dr. Peter Gail as an alternative to coffee; its powdered formula is similar in looks to a jar of good old Cafe Bustelo. While I would not, as a lover of both Dandy Blend and coffee, say they are in any way equals, I will say that my recent increased caffeine consumption (thank you, Trade Coffee and my constant proximity to the espresso machine) has been kept in line by an afternoon iced dandy drink.
If you, like me, like a strong coffee, one note: absolutely disregard the packaging that recommends servings in teaspoons. Instead, measure your dandy blend with a coffee scoop or tablespoon to get a coffee-adjacent flavor intensity. I like to use one big tablespoon per drink, and sip it in a big open mouthed jar over ice. Dandelion root goes particularly well with oat milk and a bit of honey, or sometimes if I need a caffeine fix, I mix an espresso in there, too (sorry, Dr. Gail.)
Dandy Blend is also wildly well priced. Unlike other beverages beloved in the health space—your golden milk mixes and your matcha—even if you gluttonously disregard the teaspoon measuring system in favor of tablespoons, a standard seven-ounce bag of Dandy Blend usually goes for a relatively affordable nine bucks and will last you 30 or more drinks. Just don't be surprised if you find yourself 30 or so Dandy drinks in come June.
$3.99.00, Thrive Market
Originally Appeared on Epicurious