March isn't just a time for celebrating St. Patrick's Day with Irish Coffee, Stout Beer, Corned Beef, and Cabbage. It's also around the start of spring, which means it's time for plenty of chicory root coffee or in this case chicory root tea!
Not only does chicory grow in the spring but its roots are highly beneficial. What are the benefits of chicory root? Chicory root contains large amounts of prebiotics, a.k.a. the food that all those probiotics you are taking need to actually do their job. Prebiotics are equally important to gut health as are probiotics. Let's dive more into the details of the why and the how, shall we?
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Chicory is an old, old herb that has been used for coffee drinks for a long time. It was originally harvested in Egypt and is super popular in the New Orleans area. They mix chicory root in their coffee and this traditional drink. It has been mixed and enjoyed this way since the 19th Century in France. Chicory root roasted and steeped by itself has a very strong "coffee-like" flavor by itself. When added to coffee it makes for a very bold-flavored treat!
Chicorium inthybus, or Chicory, comes from Asia and Europe. It is a perennial shrub that is fairly easy to grow and produces beautiful lavender/blue flowers very similar looking to bachelor buttons. The chicory plant stands nice and tall and produces a rather large taproot which is what is commonly used for chicory root coffee. Originally grown in ancient Egypt it was used for medicine as well as food for people and animals. Ranking up there in hardiness this plant is one of my favorites because it can put up with a lot from extreme temps to this sometimes forgetful gardener. It isn't only useful for food and medicine, but beautiful to boot as well!
According to this NCBI Study chicory has been used for many medicinal purposes including, but not limited to:
WHEW! That is quite the list and it doesn't end there, it could go on and on but for the sake of space and time, I had to cut it off there. So this herb not only tastes similar to coffee but it comes packed full of medicinal goodness to boot. And it's pretty! It sounds like lots of win, win's in my book!
As great as this little plant is there are a few precautions to take into account. Those who are pregnant or nursing should use precaution. Chicory may start the menstrual cycle up and for this reason, should be avoided by those who are pregnant. Caution should be used when handling the raw plant as there can be allergic reactions when it brushes the service of the skin. Those who are allergic to the ragweed family and other similar plants should be cautious and make sure that they are also not allergic to chicory before using. Chicory can also stimulate bile so those with gallstones should proceed with caution and seek the advice of a medical professional.
Now, if you aren't one of the individuals in the precaution category taking part in some chicory can be highly beneficial! Chicory comes power-packed with a bunch of nutrients including folic acid, vitamins A, B, C, potassium, phosphor, calcium, and magnesium. It's always amazing to me how much nutrition can come packed into the plant roots. They always hold such a treasure trove.
Chicory is a pretty simple plant to grow, depending on your gardening zone and soil. It can be started as a seed and enjoyed for its flowers and then the roots may be harvested in the fall or winter.
The roots are dug up gently so as to not lose part of the taproot in the ground. As these roots can be large and deep this can pose quite the task. A root digging tool would be super helpful in this case. The roots are then cleaned and scrubbed, cut to the size needed, and then roasted in the oven. The roasting process makes chicory root taste even more coffee-like and delicious! The roots can also be dehydrated in a dehydrator and the roasting process skipped if there is no flavor preference.
Chicory loves growing alongside mustards, lettuce, beet, cucumber, radish, onions as companion plants. Honestly, I think it would probably grow next to anything it's so stout. Chicory pairs well with dandelion root, burdock root, coffee (of course), chocolate, carob, vanilla, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, maca root, and any other earthy, rooty flavors. Speaking of flavors, I think it's time to blend up our own chicory root tea!
But since it's spring, and St. Patrick's Day is here then I think perhaps a different version of this chicory coffee is in order, don't you?! How about some Irish Coffee with Chicory Root Tea?
Photo By KaylaJoyCreative
Ingredients - makes 2
Serve this Irish Coffee up with some Matcha Shortbread Cookies and you have one fabulous St. Patrick's Day tea time treat. I'm curious though, have you had Chicory Root Coffee or tea before? Let me know in the comment section below. I can't wait to hear what you think!
Photo By KaylaJoyCreative