A weed is just a plant growing somewhere you don’t want it to. Have you ever heard that? I’ve never been much of a forager….or even much for identifying more than a handful of “weeds” I’d see growing in the yard before I yanked them out and tossed them.
In fact, I was pretty proud of myself a few years back when I read about wild plantains that were great for bug bites and stings! And then a little while later, I learned that jewelweed is a fantastic treatment for poison ivy and often is found growing right alongside it! How convenient of Mother Nature!
My latest adventure has been uncovering the myriad options available with every suburbanite’s nemesis….the dandelion.
The Perks of a Dandelion
It’s the plant you can’t kill no matter how hard you try that was the biggest surprise, and now I’ve come to the point that I actually am sad when its season is finished.
The flowers are early bloomers for our pollinators, the greens promote good digestion and some even say liver detox, even the roots are edible. And every small child knows that blowing across the seed pods spreads all your greatest wishes out into the world and ensures they’re certain to come true. But today I want to focus on dandelion flowers.
Armed with a bowl and specific directions to fill it to the brim with the most open and full yellow blossoms they can find, my children head out to the yard.
A bit later, they head back in, some with more flower heads than others. Some with a caterpillar or a story of the different kinds of bees they saw flitting around, but hopefully among them, enough flowers to make today’s treat: dandelion tea.
“Do you want dandelion mint tea or dandelion lemon balm tea,” I ask. There are mixed answers, but mint seems to be the popular vote, and one little blond head is already bobbing back out to gather some. The good news is, it really doesn’t matter how much they bring back, as long as it’s about a handful. We can make it work with a little or a lot!
My 9-year-old daughter is the tea making queen, so she fills and turns on the electric tea pot….or sets a pot of water to boil on the stove. While it’s boiling, we wash the mint leaves and soak the dandelion heads in cold water (we don’t want any little critters tagging along in our tea).
The crowning achievement is being able to tell Daddy at dinner, “I helped make the tea!” Whether it’s the 3 year old who gathered her age in flowers, or the 9 year old who actually did the boiling and straining, everyone takes ownership of their part….and we have a free treat from our property to go with our meal. Talk about farm to table!
My Recipe for Dandelion Tea
- As many dandelion flowers as you can manage (2-3 cups at least)
- 2 qt boiling water
- Honey to taste
Soak dandelion flowers in cold water for 10-15 minutes. Drain and rinse.
Put flowers and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Boil for 15-20 mins. Strain liquid and compost flowers.
Put desired amount of honey into pitcher and pour boiling water. Stir to dissolve.
Add ice to cool.
Enjoy! You can add water if the tea is too strong, or less ice if it’s too weak.
The great thing about this is that you can’t really mess it up. If you have more flowers, use more water. If you have fewer, make less. And frankly, it was basically free and your only obligation is to enjoy it!
Editor’s Note: Originally published in August 2018.