I am originally from the northeast where pesky dandelions were bountiful, and somewhat annoying to the average gardener. Now living in Florida I do not see them as often except occasionally in unattended to landscape. Growing up I always found these bright yellow flowers somewhat charming but I know the majority of society just wants to keep them out of their yard. Well while everyone has been trying to get rid of them the tea industry has been harvesting them for the natural benefits they give our bodies; they are the new super herb.
Tea companies are using the dandelion root in their products and sales are skyrocketing. The mildly sweet flavor is just an added bonus to the many benefits provided by the herb. Dandelions aid in digestion, improve liver function, lower blood pressure, and reduce inflammation. In addition some recent studies have shown that dandelions can actually slow growth in cancer cells as well as regulate blood sugar and insulin levels in people with diabetes. The whole flower is edible but tea companies generally stick to using just the root.
Not everyone enjoys tea though. So in steps the wine industry. The original dandelion wineries began in the Midwest but now you can find them all over the country. Unlike grapes, which do not grow easily everywhere, dandelions can grow almost anywhere. While tea uses just the root, wine utilizes just the flower. Dandelions provide a unique wine flavor, similar to a chardonnay. April begins tomorrow and prime dandelion-wine harvesting takes place in April and May so if you want to try it, now would be the best time.