If you ever visit the UK, dandelion and burdock is a traditional British soft drink you may want to try. A lot of people love it but there are also plenty that don’t. If you are partial to aniseed or liquorice, you may be one of the people who love it because the taste of dandelion and burdock is a cross between the two.
Although it’s a soft drink that’s hard to find outside the UK, you can buy bottles of dandelion and burdock from most British supermarkets and many newsagents and corner shops. So if you find yourself in the UK and want to try this unique-tasting drink, you should be able to find a supplier easily enough.
People in Britain have been drinking dandelion and burdock since the Middle Ages. The early version was a type of light mead.
Mead is an alcoholic drink made by fermenting honey and water, often with various fruits and spices inside. Other plant-based ingredients were popular additions as well. Dandelion and burdock, for instance.
Despite their colourful, yellow flowers; in the UK dandelions are often considered a bothersome weed. Nobody wants to find them growing in their garden or, worse still, in the middle of their lawn.
However, it’s possible to add dandelion leaves to salads. They’re very nutritious and an excellent source of potassium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. The ingredient used in early forms of dandelion and burdock came from the plant’s roots, not its leaves.
Burdock is a plant that grows in many countries of the world. It’s sometimes harvested and eaten as a root vegetable. In Britain, the roots were generally only used for making dandelion and burdock drinks.
Through the years a lot of things changed. Dandelion and burdock stopped being alcoholic and become a carbonated soft drink. More surprisingly, the dandelion and burdock you buy in British shops these days rarely contains any plant extracts at all. It still tastes good but the flavour comes from synthetic ingredients.
The lack of plant extracts means the modern version of the drink is unlikely to offer any nutritional value. The omission of dandelion and burdock is not entirely bad though. Dandelion and burdock root extracts are often used as diuretics. Consuming too much of either one is likely to increase your need to pee.
The dandelion and burdock you can see in the picture at the top of this page is made by Ben Shaws. It’s a British company that’s been making soft drinks since 1871. The company’s been making the drink for such a long time you probably won’t be surprised to learn Ben Shaws dandelion and burdock tastes pretty good. It’s one of the most respected brands.
However, despite the company’s eagerness to point out it’s been “making great British classics” for a very long time, if you take a look at the ingredients you’ll discover Ben Shaws’ drink is dandelion and burdock in name only. It doesn’t contain any plant extracts at all. So if you want to drink it you should be able to drink as much as you want. It’s unlikely to make you pee any more often than any other soft drink does.
Even though the drink is not true to its roots, if you want to try dandelion and burdock, Ben Shaws is a good brand to try. If, you want to taste some real dandelion and burdock go for Fentimans instead. It won’t be so easy to find but you can generally buy it from larger branches of Sainsbury’s. Holland & Barrett often sell it as well.
Depending on where you go, you could pay as little as £2 or as much as £4 per bottle but the bottles contain 750 ml. That’s the same amount as a bottle of wine. A 500 ml bottle of Ben Shaws dandelion and burdock will cost you considerably less. I bought mine from Heron Foods. It only cost me 35 pence.
Regardless of the brand, if you find yourself in the UK, try not to miss the opportunity to try some dandelion and burdock. There’s a good chance you’ll like it and it’s a soft drink that goes quite well with that other British classic—fish and chips.
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