Chaga Mushroom Tea

Picture of Chaga Mushroom
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Chaga tea is a blend of chaga mushroom, which grows on birch trees during the cold months in Northern Hemispheres. The mushroom grows on the bark on the trunk of the tree, and looks like a black or brown growth. Steeped in water, chaga releases a natural and sweet taste.

How It’s Made

The mushroom is covered in chitin, and once extracted from the trunk the chitin makes chaga extremely tough to break. Hot water allows it to soften up and release all of its earthy, sweet flavor. Chaga can be used, not only in teas, but in stews, smoothies, and even sprinkled.

It’s cut from the tree with an ax or small ax, and at least an inch is left for the chaga to continue to grow. The more chaga ages on a living tree, the better its health benefits and flavor is said to be.

Chaga is picked off of the trunk, dried, and grinded into certain sizes for tea brewing. It can simply be milled into chunky pieces, coarse like coffee, or into powders.

Powders require the chaga to go through an additional step of being freeze dried before being milled into powder.

Fun Fact: Otzi the caveman was preserved, frozen in an ice sheet, and was found with chaga on him to help ignite fires in 3400 B.C.

Not Tea Leaves?

Birch trees have been around for millions of years, so it’s unknown how long chaga mushrooms have been growing on them for. Chaga mushrooms can be growing on a trunk for as long as the tree lives -up to 20 years, and should only be harvested from living birch trees.

Until the widespread popularity of chaga tea in 2010, chaga mushrooms were mainly used as medicinal agents ever since 2696 B.C. In the 12th century, the Khanti people of Siberia drank chaga tea and used chaga in many ways to aid in health.

From teeth issues, digestion, and immune function, people all over the world have soaked chaga in hot or warm water, or have even sucked on it to enjoy its benefits.

Picture of Chaga Tea

The Fine Flavors of Chaga

Chaga tea has an enlivening taste, and its color is dark like a black tea. Since it’s a mushroom, it does have a slight earthy balance to it, but underneath there’s a loving natural sweetness similar to sap.

Just like any tea it has a slight bitterness to it, but due to its natural compound vanillin (also found in vanilla bean), is what gives it that beautiful, light and airy vanilla taste.

The tea is so compelling, it can be forgotten that it’s even a mushroom, but always remember: mushrooms compliment other flavors wonderfully. It may naturally taste amazing with ginger, honey, or turmeric.

Brewing Steps

Like a healthy simmering soup, the water for chaga tea should be simmered to about 176 degrees fahrenheit, and not boiled. This ensures the bitterness isn’t steeped into the first brew immediately, and may help keep health benefits intact.

Due to the thick layer of chitin on the mushroom, it needs to be steeped for much longer than tea leaves -about 10 to 15 minutes for either powder, tea bags, or chunks.

Powders or Tea Bags

If brewing for an individual cup, it’s better to use powder or tea bags. Start by adding 2 to 3 tsps of chaga powder or 1 tea bag per 8 oz of water, to a cup or tea pot. Add simmered water directly over the mushroom and steep for 10 to 15 minutes.

Chaga tea may be able to replace coffee, or be enjoyed similarly. Additions to this sweet, earthy balanced chaga tea could be milk, honey, or even maple syrup.

Chaga Chunks

For another great cup of chaga tea, those may find it brewed in chunks on a stovetop, because the chaga chunks can be used over and over again until the bitterness starts coming through. Until the tea no longer emits a dark brown color, it could be saved in the freezer safe container.

Add 4 or 5 chunks of chaga to a pot of water -about 4 cups. Simmer the chunks for at least 15 minutes. Strain from the tea, and enjoy immediately or save in the fridge for up to 7 days.

Chaga can also be enjoyed re-heated or chilled during that time, and frozen chaga may keep for up to 2 weeks.

Too much?

Chaga tea has a high mineral content, and should not exceed more than 2 cups per day.

Although chaga tea doesn’t have any caffeine, the mushroom opens the arteries to the heart, increasing blood flow and mimicking the effect of coffee. The beloved chaga tea has been praised highly due to this, and because it may not exhibit any of the side effects that caffeine does.

Due to this, it’s best enjoyed early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Otherwise, it could have a negative impact on sleep if it’s used before bed.

More Nutrient Information

Other than the soaring medicinal effects chaga may have, in an 8 oz cup of tea there are 0 calories, cholesterol, and carbs.

Many have used chaga tea to aid in digestion, because of its anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants from all of the vitamins it has. History has surprisingly even recorded tribes and more modern leaders using chaga to aid in cancer and arthritis pain relief.

It has vitamins such as b-complex, magnesium, potassium, vitamin D, amino acids, and much more.

The Many Identities of Chaga

Mushrooms can do many things, but chaga takes the cake to its tea party. The romantic dance of earthiness to sweetness is truly divine, and hard to come by in a tea. It’s dark and delectable, and can be savored as a hot or cold tea.

The natural sweetness from vanillin lines up perfectly for additions like honey or milk.

Thanks to the mighty birch trees, humanity has found a wondrous fungi to use as a soothing tea.