Chaga Tea: a Powerfully Medicinal Mushroom Tea
Pat Lewis, a landscaper from Portland Maine, is a friend of ours who always gives us a unique gift: wild-crafted chaga mushroom. Working in the wilds of Maine, he often comes across this highly medicinal mushroom. The first time he gave us some pieces of of this dark, wood-like mushroom, we had never seen it before, and didn’t quite know what to do with it. However, after researching and experimenting, chaga tea has become a beloved medicine in our home.
Chaga, Inonotus Obliquus, has been used as a folk medicine in Siberia, Northern Europe and Asia for centuries, and in the last several decades, many scientific studies have confirmed incredible medicinal properties of this mushroom. This powerful fungus is native to colder climates of the northern hemisphere. It typically grows on birch trees, and forms a dense, woody fungus with a rough, textured surface that resembles burned charcoal. The fungus often forms on lesions or damaged areas of birch trees, and while it is parasitic in nature, it actually helps to heal and protect its host tree. As it lives on its host, it concentrates the medicinal nutrients of the birch, which produces incredibly potent healing properties.
Some of the healing properties attributed to this mushroom include:
- Modulates the immune response for optimal immunity
- Reduces pain
- Promotes longevity
- Balances blood pressure & cholesterol
- Anti-Cancer and Anti-Tumor: Betulinic Acid induces apoptotic cell death in cancer cells (read more here)
- Reduces blood sugar
As you can see, this mushroom is a potent medicine. When purchased, chaga usually comes either in large chunks or powdered. The chaga in both forms is brewed into a pleasant tasting tea. Sometimes people add spices like cardamom and ginger to make chaga chai, which is quite a delicious treat.
One thing to keep in mind about chaga is that studies have shown the medicinal properties of wild chaga are far superior to that of cultivated varieties, so sourcing is very important. If you are interested in trying a truly wild chaga, please contact us.
How to make chaga tea? Many people chop and grind the chunks of chaga into powder at home. However, when our coffee grinder broke after the somewhat labor intensive process of grinding several batches of chaga, we started brewing our chaga chunks whole. The medicinal properties of this option are equal to that of the powder, and the preparation much simpler. The chunks do, however, require a bit more boiling time.
Here is a basic recipe for Chaga Tea:
• 1 tennis ball-sized chunk of chaga
• 1 gallon of pure water
1. Place the chunk of chaga in the water, bring to a boil. Upon boiling, reduce to a simmer, cover, and let be for about four hours.
2. When simmering is complete, strain the chaga tea, and your medicinal beverage is ready to enjoy!
Please note: You can reuse the same chunk to make a second batch of chaga tea.
By Wei Bertram & Chloe Bolton