Appearance and General Info
Chicory is a bushy perennial herb with blue, lavender, and occasionally, white flowers. The purple rays of the chicory flower are jagged at the edge and delicate. The basal leaves are similar to a dandelion in their first rosette leaves, but then the plant continues to grow up a tall stalk to produce the seeds. Chicory has a deep taproot reaching down to many feet into the earth.
The herb used in a tea is commonly used as a blood purifier (detoxifier), tonic, and decongestant of the internal organs. A tea made of the roots, flowers, and leaves is a good wash for skin irritations, including athlete’s foot. You can apply a compress of the boiled leaves and flowers, wrapped in a clean cotton cloth, to swellings, boils, and mild inflammations to promote relief.
The whole plant is edible, and in particular the leaves and roots are commonly used. The leaves make a fantastic salad addition with a slightly bitter taste. Blended in with other greens it adds a great additional flavor. The roots blended raw into soups and chai teas create a highly mineral rich food. Chicory root has long been used as a substitute for coffee. The roots are baked, ground, and used as a coffee substitute. The dried or roasted roots make an excellent addition to herbal tea blends as well. We prefer to use the root dried and mix it with part roasted to receive the flavor of “dark roast” but the nutrition of the unaltered root. Together they make a fantastic morning beverage. Chicory contains inulin, which is used as a sweetener in the food industry, sometimes being added to yogurts as a probiotic. Chicory is also a good source of vitamins A,C,K,E, and B complex, as well as potassium, calcium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, and magnesium.