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Rites of Spring

Dandelion Root
dandelion roots 4 by oceandesetoiles; licensed under Creative Commons

Another advantage of sickness — it can be a good excuse to go on a sobriety binge. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I’m sick my desire to drink alcohol and caffeine diminishes severely. I don’t want anything to make my recovery longer.

Actually, let me make a liar of myself. In the first week of this bronchitis, I continued to enjoy a little coffee in the mornings, maybe a quarter-glass of wine at dinner, and a hot toddy (with a shot of Wild Turkey 101) before bed.

But in the second week I tapered off completely, and now I am stone cold sober and decaffeinated as well.

Cold turkey is fine for Wild Turkey, but for caffeine the gradual approach is best. I should know. This has become something of an annual ritual for me. This is my eight coffee reduction in almost as many years.

Usually I wait ’til May for the coffee reduction, but this year I had the bronchitis as an excuse, and it occurred to me that this could be a sort of purification ritual in preparation for the vernal equinox. That seemed somehow appropriate to the spirit of the season. I often get into the spirit of Lent by giving up alcohol, so why not caffeine at the same time?

Just to be clear, for me it’s not an act of penance. It’s about feeling good. I enjoy coffee and other adult beverages, but I also enjoy laying off for a while.

In fact, all notions of penance aside, I wonder if the common practice of abstinence at this time of year doesn’t resonate in part because of some spirit inherent in the season itself, something about the character of spring.

As I write this I’m drinking a cup of roasted dandelion root tea. It’s supposed to promote healthy liver function, but mainly I bought it just because I like herbal teas that taste sort of (for lack of a better word) medicinal. I drank a lot of elderflower and licorice root tea when I was sick, but now I was ready for something different, and the dandelion root caught my eye at the grocery. The liver detox claim is an added bonus.

My boss is also off booze for Lent, so I offered her a bag of the tea. She tried it and absolutely hated it. Couldn’t finish it. I have to admit it is plenty bitter. It’s also plenty dark. As I was drinking this cup I forgot myself for a moment and thought I was drinking coffee. Then it dawned on me — that’s probably why my boss and I reacted so differently. She’s not a coffee drinker. I on the other hand have learned to love the bitter taste.

As I went looking for a photos of dandelion root, I was astonished to stumble across this recipe for dandelion root coffee, made with equal parts roasted dandelion root and roasted chicory, and a little cinnamon. I’m going to have to try that if I can only find the ingredients.

But what really gets me is when Elana, publisher of said recipe, notes:

Dandelion is a fantastic liver cleanser and spring is the perfect season for liver support.

Which bears out my previous ruminations. Maybe there’s something to the idea of spring as a season of purification.

I’m enjoying this hot bitter drink now, but cold bitter drinks are especially refreshing when the weather heats up — which it will soon. Last year our Beltane party confirmed my love of amaro. Might have to do that again.

Dandelion Roots 4 / oceandesetoiles / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Published inBodyDrugzFood & Drinx


  1. There’s that line in _The Good Earth_ where the vendor is selling green apples or green pears, I don’t remember which, with the tagline, “Purge your winter bowels!” So yeah, maybe this spring cleaning is just part of the human condition.

  2. […] noted back in March that I’d started my eighth coffee reduction earlier than usual this year. Normally I wait until the weather gets hot, but this year I […]

  3. […] this morning. I hope to start on some dandelion-chicory root tea later this week. The idea of a seasonal detox session is appealing to me. In the same spirit I’ve even looked into fasting, but I’m not sure […]

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