Chaga: why this mushroom tea is seriously awesome
Nature gets it right every time. Look no further.
Well isn't that the truth!
Now you might be asking...
What the heck is chaga?!
Cha-cha-cha-CHAGA. This mushroom is my latest obsession (and for good reason!). Not only does it have a really cool name, it is also incredibly healthy. Regarded as the "king of mushrooms" in ancient China and Russia, it has been used for thousands of years as medicine. Chaga is a dark brown/black mushroom that kind of resembles charcoal. It is harvested from birch trees in northern Canada, northern Japan, and northern Siberia. Under the dark exterior there is a lighter brown/yellow "meat" which contains the majority of the health benefits.
What are the health benefits?
Chaga (and all medicinal mushrooms for that matter) contain compounds called beta-glucans. Beta-glucans are strong immune modulators and help the body assist with many diseases such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, and viral infections. They act by stimulating production of more white blood cells. In additions to beta-glucans, chaga is also incredibly high in antioxidants. The antioxidant levels may be the highest ever discovered, as they are approximately 50 times higher than blueberries! Chaga is also considered an adaptogenic herb. Adaptogens help increase the body's ability to resist the damaging effects of stress. The adaptogenic properties of chaga make it excellent at helping resist fatigue, anxiety, and stress related depression.
Chaga is also very high in a variety of minerals such as iron, copper, calcium and zinc and vitamins D, K and numerous B vitamins.
Talk about a nutritional powerhouse hey?
How do I use it?
Chaga is usually ingested as a tea, tincture or in capsule form. I personally prefer drinking it as a tea. When prepared, it has a deep earthy taste that is similar to a light coffee with hints of vanilla. I loooove the taste and could drink it all day!
You can make chaga tea by simmering 2 teaspoons of dried chaga in a pot of water on the stove (covered) for 1-2 hours (to get the most nutritional benefits out of the mushroom you will want to simmer for at least 20 minutes!). The chaga will turn a dark coffee colour. Then strain off the liquid and keep the tea it in a large jar in the fridge. When you are ready to drink it, pour about 1/4 cup of the chaga tea in a mug and top it off with hot water (this is because it is suuuuper strong not watered down). It is delicious on its own, but if you prefer it a little sweeter you can add a teaspoon of honey.
The mushroom pieces can actually be re-brewed a couple of times until the colour is lost. When you are done brewing a batch just keep the mushroom pieces in a container in the fridge and use it again in a couple days!