Dandelion and burdock
|Type||Carbonated soft drink|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Related products||Root beer, sarsaparilla|
Dandelion and burdock is a beverage consumed in the British Isles since the Middle Ages. It was originally a type of light mead, but over the years has evolved into the soft drink commercially available today. Traditionally it was made from fermented dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) and burdock (Arctium lappa) roots.
Dandelion and burdock shares a historical origin with a number of drinks originally made from lightly fermented root extracts, such as root beer and sarsaparilla, supposedly as a health benefit. One story regarding its origin is that in about AD1265 St. Thomas Aquinas, after a hard night's praying, stumbled out in the dawn and, "trusting in God to Provide" brewed a concoction from the first two plants he encountered.
The dominant flavour in these other drinks is usually sassafras or wintergreen, both now derived artificially rather than from the plant itself, in part because during the 1960s safrole, the major component of the volatile oil of sassafras, was found to be carcinogenic in rats when administered in relatively large doses. All of these drinks, while tasting similar, do have their own distinct flavour. Dandelion and burdock is most similar in flavour to sarsaparilla. The drink has recently seen an increase in popularity after previously poor sales.
A dandelion and burdock drink is likely to contain several ingredients common to similar drinks including carbonated water, sweeteners, colourings, possibly phosphoric acid, citric acid and dandelion and burdock extract natural flavouring.
Imitations and variants
The "dandelion and burdock" drink for sale in many retail outlets rarely contains either plant. The retail drink is often carbonated, containing artificial sweeteners and flavourings. Some supermarkets sell the drink with "real plant extracts" with a more faithful flavour than the ones made with artificial flavourings
Fentimans, a beverage company based in the United Kingdom offers a faithful recreation of the naturally brewed dandelion and burdock drink, containing true extracts of both plants (although its main ingredients are sugar and pear juice concentrate).
The last of the UK's original Temperance Bars, Fitzpatrick's in Rawtenstall, which opened in 1890, still produces its dandelion and burdock to an original recipe brought over from Ireland at the end of the 19th century.