Dandelion Flowers and Dandelion Flower Tea

Learn all about dandelions in my ultimate guide to the health benefits, side effects and uses of this pretty flowering weed. Plus, discover how to forage fresh blooms and how to make hot or iced tea with either fresh or dehydrated flowers, roots or leaves.

A Guide to the Benefits and Uses of Dandelions and Dandelion Tea

Learn about where they are grown, how to safely forage for them and what they taste like.

Plus discover the array of uses that this medicinal herb has to offer and how to make a lovely cup of dandelion tea.

Common Dandelion Flower Questions

Let’s review this pretty yellow weed with some commonly asked questions:

What are Dandelion Flowers?

Dandelion flowers are pretty weeds and they grow everywhere. They often pop up in gardens, meadows, woodlands and even along the side of the road. They are native to Europe and North America but are commonly found all over the world and thrive in different climates. The dandelion flower (Taraxacum officinale) is a genus of flowering plants in the Asteraceae family, the same family as sunflowers, daisies and chamomile flowers.

The whole dandelion plant is edible and many people enjoy fresh and dried tea made from an infusion of the flowers, roots or the leaves. The darker and richer root is commonly roasted and used as a naturally caffeine free coffee substitute. The flowers are much lighter and floral for a delicate tasting tisane.

Once the pretty flower has been pollinated, the flower head turns to a seed head (the fruit of the plant). The seed head, often referred to as the ‘clock’, looks much like a fluffy-puffy white parachute and can contain as much as 500 seeds which blow away in the wind. You may have made a wish on one of these!

Are Dandelions Edible?

Yes! The whole of the dandelion plant is edible (and medicinal) including the blossom, roots, leaves and the stems. Each part of the plant has a unique flavour and aroma. The flower head will be far more floral and delicate than the roots. The leaves and stem will be more grassy, vegetal with a slight peppery flavour.

How to Forage for Dandelion Flowers

Foraging for dandelions is as easy as starting by looking in your very own garden. Most people will be familiar with these golden flowers growing wildly in almost every unkept patch of grass. These pretty flowers are usually best for picking in spring time or just after the summer. In certain climates, they can grow all year round. Dandelions prefer to grow in slight shaded areas, however, they still grow in full sunlight. Late morning time on a sunny day is ideal for collecting the best dandelions, they will be fully open in the sunshine.

There are a few look-a-like plants to be aware of when looking for dandelions. Dandelions grow on a single, hollow stem with spiky leaves that grow just at the bottom of the stem. The spikey green leaves resemble rocket leaves. They actually taste similar to peppery rocket too. Look-a-like plants include, false dandelions, also known as cat’s ear (Hypochaeris radicata) and sow thistle (Sonchus). Both of these look-a-likies are non toxic. True dandelions will only have one flower per stem and will be a brighter yellowy-orange colour compared to similar looking weeds.

There are lots of plant identification apps that are very helpful when foraging for medicinal flowers and herbs. When collecting dandelions, be mindful of herbicides and pesticides that may have been used. It’s always best to pick flowers in areas where you can be certain that chemical sprays have not been used. Also avoid high traffic areas from car pollution (or even dog pee!).

Once you have gathered your flowers and/or leaves and roots, gently wash away ants, other bugs and any dirt or pollen ready for making your tea or other recipes. If you have harvested lots of dandelions, you can dehydrate the leaves and flowers to use at a later date.

Dandelions vs Calendulas

Both dandelion flowers and calendula flowers (pot marigolds) share similar characteristics and both are part of the daisy family of plants. Both types of flowers grow wildly, both have health benefits and both can be used to make floral tea. Here is how you can tell the difference between the two:

  • Where they grow: Dandelions often pop up all over the place including lawns. Calendulas are less likely to spread across garden lawns and more likely to grow in borders and beds.

  • The root: Dandelions have a deep taproot whereas calendula root are more delicate and easier to pull out of the ground.

  • The leaves: The leaves of the dandelion are more jagged and ‘lion tooth like’ than the smoother leaves of the calendula plant. The leaves of the dandelion plant will grow at the base of the stem, whereas the leaves of the calendula plant will grow approximately two inches up the stem.

  • The flower head: Both flowers are singular on individual stems, dandelions are usually a more yellow colour whereas calendulas can range from yellow to orange to even having a red tint. Calendula petals are larger and smoother, dandelion petals seem to spray outwards resembling feathers.

  • The seeds: Both plants are self seeding, however, the dandelion produces a fluffy white ball of seeds whereas calendulas do not.

What is the Meaning of the Dandelion Flower?

  • Traditional beliefs: Folklore tells us that dandelions represent hopes, dreams and wishes. If you have ever picked a fluffy dandelion seed ball, you will be all too familiar with blowing away the seeds and making a wish, or the age old ‘he loves me, he loves me not!’ Apparently, if you blow all the seeds in one go, the person you love will love you back!

  • Spiritual meaning: Dandelions symbolize rebirth and strength as they can grow almost anywhere in almost any condition. Dandelions are extremely hardy weeds. They have been a very spiritual flower for centuries in which they are often described as an essence of love, light and healing.

  • Religious interpretation: Apparently, in the bible, the word dandelion means ‘lion’s teeth’ because the leaves look sharp just like the teeth of a lion. However, the French words ‘dents de lion’ also means lion tooth. Plus, the yellow petals are also just like a lion’s beautiful mane!

  • Astronomy significance: The life cycle of the dandelion represents the sun, moon and the stars. The yellow flower represents the glowing sun, the fluffy seed ball represents the white moon and the seeds blowing away represent the far-reaching stars.

  • Dream symbols: To see dandelions in your dreams interprets love, wishes and joy. It can also mean strength.

What are the Health Benefits?

Dandelions have been used for medicinal purposes for more than centuries. Each part of the weed has it’s own unique healing abilities, for instance the root has been long used as a liver tonic and the flower has long been used to make medicinal wine! Dandelions are highly nutritious and contain fiber, essential minerals and vitamins A, C, E and K. Let’s look at the health benefits in more detail:

  • Antioxidants: The antioxidants in dandelions help keep the body healthy by fighting free radical damage. Dandelions in particular contain the antioxidant beta carotene. It’s this compound that gives certain fruits, vegetables and flowers their bright vibrant colour. The body can convert beta carotene into youth promoting vitamin A (retinol).

  • Anti inflammatory properties: Dandelions contain healthy polyphenols. These antioxidant compounds include quercetin, luteolin and caffeic acid:

    • Quercetin: Quercetin is known for its anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory properties. There are also claims that it can be used to control blood sugar and prevent heart disease. However, these claims are yet to be studied fully.

    • Luteolin: Luteolin is an antioxidant found in yellow plants, just like dandelions and in chamomile too. Luteolin is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. The free-radicals found in these flowers help to protect cells from oxidative damage.

    • Caffeic acid: Studies show that caffeic acid may counteract the development of coronary heart disease, inflammation, diabetes and cancer. Caffeic acid derivatives are found in almost all plant sources but are especially high in coffee and potatoes!

  • Lactation support: Dandelion has long been used for lactation support in traditional Chinese medicine. The root of the plant contains inulin which is thought to be a galactogogue. Galactagogues is the name given for milk making aids, just like the lactation supporting herbs used in mothers milk tea. However, there is yet to be any scientific evidence to back up the claims that dandelion root is a lactation aid.

  • Colds and flu: Dandelion tea, tonics and tinctures have been used in traditional European folklore medicine for centuries. It’s believed that taking dandelion tea can be beneficial for fighting off colds and flu. This is due to many factors including the anti inflammatory properties and the vitamin C present. This study shows that the antiviral properties found in dandelion extract may help fight the flu!

  • Gut health and tummy troubles: The root of the dandelion plant contains a soluble fiber called inulin. This a carbohydrate found in many plants which is highly beneficial for supporting a healthy gut. This study shows that dandelions may help with constipation. Prebiotics (including inulin) may improve bowel function by positively influencing intestinal biota (gut microbiota, aka your gut health)!

  • Skin health: Many acne cosmetics contain dandelion extract as it contains antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Dandelion plants can aid in detoxifying the skin, clearing out the pores and helping to rid of acne. This study shows that dandelion extracts may protect human skin from UVB damage and from aging cells.

  • Appendicitis: Traditional Chinese medicine has long been using dandelion tea for the treatment of appendicitis! However, appendicitis is a life threatening medical emergency and so it is always best to discuss any treatments with your doctor.

What are the Side Effects?

Like all herbs and herbal remedies, dandelions and the tea made from them can have some side effects. Dandelions are non toxic, however, some individuals can have allergies to these flowers or to the pollen. Those sensitive or allergic to daisies and/or plants from the daisy family should take caution.

Individuals on certain medications should avoid this plant, especially those on blood thinners, diuretics, those with diabetes or liver/kidney problems. Whilst it is considered safe and many people take tea made from dandelions or other remedies on a daily basis, it is always best to discuss concerns and seek advice from your healthcare provider.

Are Dandelions Safe for Pets to Consume?

Many plants that are safe for humans are toxic for pets and vice versa. Dandelions are one of the safest weeds around and many people give their dogs dandelions for medicinal purposes. The whole plant is edible, with the exception of the stem which can sometimes have laxative effects, especially on animals. It’s always best to discuss any concerns you have about your pet’s diet and health with your veterinarian.

Uses for Dandelions

Dandelion flowers, roots and leaves have been used in many different ways for thousands of years. Here are some of my favourite ways to use these pretty yellow flowers:

  1. Make tea: My favourite way to use dandelion flowers is to make a lovely cup of tea!* Infuse the fresh or dried herb in freshly boiled water and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes, add a drizzle of honey and enjoy. *Herbal teas will only last up to 2 days stored in the fridge and therefore it is always best to freshly make the tea when needed.

  2. Iced tea: Make a large glass of iced tea with the fresh or dried flowers. Strongly brew your tisane, add your sweetener of choice and pour over a large glass of ice. Add mint sprigs, slices of lemons, limes and/or berries. Infuse your flowers in sparkling water for an easy sparkling iced tea recipe!

  3. Homemade dandelion and burdock soda: Make dandelion and burdock soda, cordial or beer using dandelion roots and burdock roots. Try this dandelion and burdock cordial recipe by Liz Earle.

  4. Coffee Substitute: Dandelion root has a much stronger taste compared to the leaves and flowers, it is often roasted and enjoyed as a healthier alternative to coffee.

  5. Salads: All parts of this plant are edible and can be used in salads and other sweet and savoury dishes. The root can be roasted just like other root vegetables. The leaves can be used just like rocket (arugula) and the flowers can be used to add colour and crunch to salad toppings.

  6. Medicinal wine: Medicinal wines have been used for centuries. Many different herbs, spices and flowers can be infused into wine for their health benefits. Dandelion flowers can be either infused into wine or can be made from scratch. Making flower wine from scratch can take up to two years to ferment into tasty alcoholic wine, so patience is a must!

  7. Dandelion syrup: Make sweet Scandinavian syrup with dandelions. Traditional summer time syrup is made with dandelion petals, apples, lemons and sugar. Use on pancakes, waffles, ice cream or in delicious tea lattes!

  8. Soap: Use whole dandelions to make homemade nourishing and soothing soap. Try this recipe for dandelion soap using the whole plant with coconut oil and essential oils by Grow Forage Cook Ferment.

  9. Tonics: Dandelions are commonly used in liver tonics and tonics to help digestion. DIY liver tonics and tinctures can be made at home or are available for purchase at health food stores.

  10. Flower ice cubes: Strongly brew your floral tisane and pour into ice cube moulds for use in iced tea at a later time. You can also add the beautiful whole flowers into your ice cubes with or without the steeped tea. Add to water, sparkling water or lemonade for a pretty and refreshing beverage.

  11. Candy or cough drops: Make candy with dandelion blooms and sugar. Try this sweetie dandelion candy recipe from Homestead Lady.

  12. Hot toddy: Make a soothing dandelion hot toddy by brewing your flowers in freshly boiled water, add honey, slices of lemon and your favourite tipple. If you love hot tea recipes try this chamomile hot toddy.

  13. Bath soak: Add freshly brewed flower tea to your bath to make a healing therapeutic bath soak.

  14. Top cakes: Top cakes and desserts with the pretty edible yellow flowers. You can also top cakes with lots of other pretty flowers such as purple violet flowers.

  15. Jams and jellies: Make jam or jelly using sugar and pectin to make sweet jam perfect for afternoon tea time.

  16. Salves, oils and ointments: Make infused creams, salves, oil or ointment for hydration and to soothe dry skin.

  17. Honey: Infuse the flavours of dandelion into floral wildflower honey just like this lavender infused honey recipe.

Tasting Dandelions

The whole dandelion plant is edible and can be used to make tea and can be used in many other recipes too. Each part can be used in a different way and each part will have a unique flavour:

  • Dandelion Blooms

    • The flowers are often used to make tea and for adding colour and texture to salads or to top cakes. The flower part has a much more delicate taste compared to the leaves and the root.

  • Dandelion Leaves

    • The leaves not only look similar to rocket leaves but they taste similar to rocket leaves. The leaves are often added to salads and sandwiches.

  • Dandelion Root

    • Is commonly roasted and used as a naturally caffeine free coffee substitute. It is great for those sensitive to the effects of caffeine or for those looking to reduce their caffeine intake. The root can also be roasted just like other root vegetables.

What is Dandelion Tea?

Dandelion tea is a wonderful medicinal tisane that has been enjoyed for more than centuries. It’s made from the flowers, roots or leaves and each infusion will have a different taste. It’s naturally caffeine free just like violet flower tea and chamomile flower tea and shares similar qualities to chamomile as both are from the daisy plant family. You can enjoy it hot, iced, sparkling or as a hot toddy.

What Does Dandelion Flower Tea Taste Like?

Dandelion flowers have a floral honey-like taste and aroma. Young petals will be sweeter and less astringent than older flowers. The leaves and stems are more grassy/spinach/rocket tasting. The roots are the richest tasting part of the plant and the most likened to strong bitter black tea or coffee.

How to Make Tea With Dandelions

How to brew your own dandelion flower tea: This is a fairly simple method, especially if you have a teapot and some loose dried herb or fresh flowers. All you have to do is put a few teaspoons of dried blossoms into your teapot and pour hot water over the leaves. Use 1 heaped teaspoon of dried herb OR 3-6 fresh flowers to one cup of water per person. Let the water sit for a 5-10 minutes and then remove the leaves with a fine mesh strainer. This method is ideal for preparing a single serving of tea, but you can make several servings this way and store them in the refrigerator for later consumption. However, herbal tea will spoil quickly so use within 2 days. Add sugar, honey and slices of lemon to taste.

How to brew dandelion root tea: You can also make dandelion root tea and dandelion leaf tea in the same way by infusing the herb in freshly boiled water. If you are making root tea for medicinal purposes, you may wish to create a concoction first by boiling the roots rather than infusing them. As the root part of the plant is more hardy than the flower or the leaves, it will require boiling to extract more of the medicinal qualities.

How to make an iced dandelion flower tea: If you like summer time tea recipes, making iced tea is the perfect way to enjoy this pretty yellow blossom on a hot summer’s day. You can make strongly brewed hot tea as usual and then add ice to it to cool it down. Add a sweetener of choice such as honey, agave or sugar. You can also add slices of apples, citrus fruits or berries for added flavour and sweetness. You can also make a larger batch and store in the fridge for later consumption (upto 2 days). This way you can enjoy a refreshing drink at any time of the day!

Is Dandelion Tea Safe to Enjoy Everyday?

Whilst this type of tea is considered safe and many people take this herbal tea daily, it is always best to enjoy it in moderation. Always consult your healthcare provider with any queries or concerns!

Do you like dandelion blossom tea? Let me know in the comments below!

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This blog is for information purposes only. It is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any medical conditions. Always seek medical advice from your healthcare provider.