NEWS OPINION

I Tried Swapping Coffee for Dandelion Tea. It's About Balance

Dandelion tea illustration.

Verywell / Ellen Lindner

This story is part of a series where Verywell Health editors try different health trends and report what they find. For this edition, editor Dana Ingemann tried finding an alternative to caffeine.

Key Takeaways

  • Preliminary research shows that dandelion tea can be beneficial for your health.
  • If you find yourself addicted to coffee or another form of caffeine, switching to tea may help you feel better.
  • You don't have to ditch the java, but occasionally swapping it for another option can help if you feel overwhelmed by the side effects.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love the bitter, caffeinated nectar that is my morning cup of joe. I love it so much, that sometimes I lie in bed at night looking forward to it. (Yes, my life is very exciting.)

Unfortunately, coffee does have a few downsides. Over the past five years, coffee has become part of my regular morning routine—I normally drink two cups a day. In that time I’ve noticed unsightly stains on my teeth, felt anxious jitters after consuming an extra cup, and, to be honest, I’ve been a little extra sweaty. I’ve also heard many of my friends complain that coffee makes them run to the bathroom (personally, I find this to be a bonus).

So, I wasn't opposed to finding an equally satisfying morning beverage that doesn’t carry caffeine’s negative side effects.

Enter: Dandelion root tea. This concoction is one of the latest health trends taking the internet by storm—even Tiktokers are giving it a go. But it's not a new practice. The use of the dandelion plant for medicinal purposes can be traced back over a thousand years in traditional Chinese medicine.

Dandelion root contains a multitude of different necessary vitamins, including A, C, E, K, folate, iron, magnesium, and more. Preliminary studies suggest that consuming dandelions can help with health conditions such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as improve liver and pancreatic health. It has also been found that dandelion has antioxidant properties and can help with digestion and immune function.

Given this promising research, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give it a go.

What Is Dandelion Root Tea?

Dandelion root tea is made from the dandelion plant. The roots are pulled from the ground, cut into smaller pieces, and cooked until dried. The roots can be added to hot water like this or ground into a powder to be mixed in.

The Process

Before starting this journey, I tried to figure out if I needed to swap coffee for tea for a certain amount of time to see results. I found that the jury is still out on that one, so I opted to give it a solid week, starting on a Thursday through the following Wednesday. As you may be able to imagine, a week of no coffee is easier said than done. I hid my French press, stashed my pour-over, and concealed my beans in the far reaches of the freezer. 

dandelion tea in a tea ball infuser

Courtesy of Dana Ingemann

I opted to purchase loose-leaf dandelion root tea and use a classic stainless steel tea infuser ball. I had never tried dandelion root tea before, so I figured I’d go for the good stuff and hope for the best, taste-wise. A colleague previously told me that she thought dandelion tea tasted like garbage, so I was nervous about committing to a full week of it right off the bat.

In case you’re wondering, I ordered from Prestogeorge Coffee & Tea in Pittsburgh, as I’m a fan of their coffee and have developed some brand allegiance toward them. They advertise their dandelion root tea as bitter and earthy.

Thursday morning came around and I brewed my tea. As I nervously took my first sip, I was met with a bitter but balanced taste—not unlike coffee. I’m not going to lie to you and say it tasted like coffee, but it certainly tasted pleasant. I added a dash of honey for sweetness and happily drank my entire cup.

Caffeine Withdrawals

Did I notice the lack of caffeine? Unfortunately, yes. That afternoon I experienced a caffeine withdrawal headache. I ended up taking ibuprofen to help me deal with the symptoms and drank plenty of water.

Day two was similar. I drank my tasty tea, lamented over the slight headache I developed and went on with my day. By day three, my headache was completely gone. I was surprised to only experience short-lived withdrawals from such a long-term vice.

Adding Flavor to Function

I also decided to experiment with my tea. After perusing the internet for dandelion tea tips, I found that some people enjoy a bit of steamed milk in their tea and others enjoy cream. I decided to add a splash of oat milk to mine and was pleasantly surprised at how it improved the flavor.

The Outcome

I happily drank my tea for another four days, although I will admit that by day five I was strongly craving coffee. Although, I found that my craving was for the taste, rather than its effects. I genuinely enjoy coffee and its robust, roasty flavor. While dandelion tea tasted good, I didn’t find myself looking forward to it in the same way.

Physiologically, I noticed a few surprising differences:

  • After coming down from my slight caffeine addiction, I realized that I didn’t need caffeine to start my day. In fact, I felt just as awake without it. 
  • Not having caffeine meant that I didn’t experience all the little side effects of a stimulant. I didn’t feel sweaty or shaky.
  • My bowel habits didn’t change. To be honest, I was worried about experiencing a bout of constipation, but that wasn't the case.

These findings made me realize a few things:

  • I don’t need caffeine: I’m sorry, my fellow millennials, but it’s true. I don’t need to make drinking coffee my personality anymore.
  • But I love coffee: More importantly, I love coffee for the taste, not for the effects. 
  • Decaf is doable: Since I already went through the trouble of breaking my caffeine habit, I’m going to be more conscientious about my caffeine intake moving forward. This may mean doing half-caf somedays, decaf on others, and—yes—tea.
  • Tea can replace all kinds of beverages: While I’ll still drink coffee most mornings, I could definitely see myself swapping tea out with other beverages (like alcohol) to keep improving my daily habits.

The Final Verdict

While I won’t be swapping out my coffee for tea on a permanent basis, I appreciate that this challenge made me question my motives for consuming coffee (and other beverages) in the first place. It made me ask myself, “Does this genuinely add value to my life?”

I challenge you to think about if your consumption feels balanced to you. Are you drinking three cups of coffee a day and getting heart palpitations at your desk? Maybe swap out cup three for tea and see if it helps. Are you having one too many alcoholic drinks while sitting on your patio? Maybe a warm cup of tea can keep you cozy while avoiding the hangover. Listen to your body and serve it well.

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4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. Wirngo FE, Lambert MN, Jeppesen PB. The physiological effects of dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) in type 2 diabetes. Rev Diabet Stud. 2016;13(2-3):113-131. doi:10.1900/RDS.2016.13.113

  4. Nguyen C, Mehaidli A, Baskaran K, et al. Dandelion root and lemongrass extracts induce apoptosis, enhance chemotherapeutic efficacy, and reduce tumour xenograft growth in vivo in prostate cancer. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2019;2019:2951428. doi:10.1155/2019/2951428