Chaga mushroom tea (or other forms) is still unknown in most countries. However, it’s a real superfood that you should not miss. We’ll tell you all about it!
This fungus has been the subject of numerous scientific studies due to its varied and interesting health benefits.
As with other foods such as reishi, maitake, or shiitake, Chaga will be considered an important ingredient in future diets. Food is evolving.
It is composed of a group of organisms with a similar functioning to that of kombucha, and it also has potent properties.
In other parts of the world, it has been used for several thousand years due to its multiple and powerful beneficial properties, and it is for this reason that it receives different names related to them.
Thus, in China, it is called “King of Plants” and is considered a superior herb by its traditional medicine. In Siberia, it is the “Mushroom of Immortality” or “Gift of God,” and in Japan, it is called “The Diamond of the Forest.”
What is Chaga mushroom?
The Chaga is a mushroom whose scientific name is Inonotus obliquus, and the colloquial name is known as “coal nose.” It belongs to the Hymenochaetaceae family, parasites that grow on certain trees, such as the white birch.
This doesn’t mean that this super fungus is a parasite. On the contrary, it serves to cure them since it has been found in trees that have died. Although it is a fungus that grows inside the trees, it is not toxic.
Its appearance is a kind of black mass, cracked and hard, which gives it the appearance of burnt charcoal.
It has a shape similar to that of a nose, hence its common name. The inside is brown and yellowish in color and can remain inside the tree for a long time.
It is found mainly in the white birch forests of northern and eastern Europe, Russia, the northern United States, Canada, and Korea. Because it grows in icy areas, Chaga needs to concentrate as much of its natural compounds as possible to be preserved.
That is why its properties are so potent, and it is considered an important remedy by traditional Chinese medicine.
Its composition is rich in high value nutrients such as:
- Minerals: calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc
- Group B vitamins
- Enzymes, polysaccharides, phenols, pantothenic acid, sterols, dismutase, betulinic acid, chromogenic complex, lignins, and triterpenes
All these nutrients make it a complete superfood with great properties that make it an excellent ally for your health.
How to make Chaga mushroom tea: Guidelines
Chaga comes in two main varieties: powder teabags and in chucks. The chunks are a popular variety as they ensure that the Chaga is fresh and more potent.
Teabags contain ground Chaga mushrooms that may not be as fresh but allow drinkers to prepare Chaga tea much faster.
Source: Sencha Tea Bar
Step 1: Prepare your container
Grab a large, heavy vessel to brew your tea in, such as a metal teapot or large frying pan. The brewing time for Chaga is quite long, and if you use a delicate porcelain teapot, you can permanently stain it.
Fill your pot with 1 liter of water. If you are using tea bags, you should not need to heat more water than a filled cup.
Heat the water between 140 F and 160 F, which is boiling. Pouring boiling water over the Chaga can destroy its antioxidants and should be avoided.
Step 2: Prepare your Chaga chunks
If you are using Chaga chunks, be sure to divide them into smaller pieces. Aim for 1-inch cubes. Since Chaga is quite tough, you’ll need to use a hammer.
Wrap your Chaga in a cloth, place it on a sturdy surface such as the floor and tap it several times to break it down into smaller pieces.
If the pieces are too large, you will not properly brew the Chaga tea and get the full flavor and health benefits.
Step 3: Steeping
Teabags should be steeped in hot water for 4 to 6 minutes. The use of tea bags results in quick brewing times and produces a very smooth and stimulating cup of tea.
On the other hand, the pieces should be steeped for at least 1 hour with warm water. You want to wait until the tea turns a dark reddish-brown before consuming.
Some enjoy steeping the tea by simmering it for up to 4 hours. This will create a more bitter, rich, and soothing brew.
Others use a clay pot to slowly brew the Chaga over low heat. This will create a vibrant, dark tea almost the same color and consistency as black ink.
When the steeping is finished, do not throw away the chafing holders. The Chaga cubes can be reused two more times after the initial extraction. They can then be burned as incense or passed through a coffee grinder and consumed as powder.
Step 4: Serve and enjoy
Chaga tea has a relatively mild flavor, even when it has been brewed for a long time. The tea brews well with a variety of flavors, but especially with cinnamon and maple syrup.
Many prefer to consume cold chaga as iced tea. Let your chaga tea cool for a few hours and add some ice cubes and perhaps a squeeze of lemon.
How to use Chaga tea
Chaga mushroom tea is extremely versatile. You can store leftover Chaga tea in a mason jar in the refrigerator, and it will keep well for up to three days. Chaga tea makes an excellent base for smoothies, soups, or even oatmeal.
It can be reheated without loss of flavor or nutrition if reheated over low heat. It can be flavored with other teas. Many like to brew coffee with Chaga mushroom tea, which creates a more energizing beverage.
Chaga mushroom tea benefits
Documentary evidence shows that the properties and benefits of Chaga mushroom, especially tea, have been used as a natural medicine in China for 2,300 years.
For evidence in Europe, specifically in the East and Russia, it dates back to the sixteenth century. It was at that time when the first records of its use were registered in botanical medicine.
Strengthens the immune system
As it is rich in beta-glucans, which have a regulating and modulating action on the immune system. That is, they control its increase in response to diseases, stimulating the growth of leukocytes. They also slow it down in the case of autoimmune diseases.
Chaga’s chemical components, together with the high biological activity, give it important antimicrobial properties.
Aids digestion and helps in the treatment of ulcers and gastritis
It is great for good intestinal transit, as it promotes digestion. It also helps the generation of bile and has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, which are very useful in ulcers and gastritis.
Blood pressure and blood cholesterol regulation
For this reason, it prevents cardiovascular and other diseases such as atherosclerosis and thrombosis.
Reduces anxiety and depression
In addition to being rich in B vitamins and minerals, it is a food with adaptogenic qualities, which means that the natural substances it contains are nutrients especially recommended for the body to adapt conveniently to stressful situations.
Therefore, it helps to reduce both anxiety and depression.
Reduces the effects of aging
Its powerful antioxidant capacity significantly reduces cellular and skin aging. Hence, it reduces wrinkles and supports skin blemishes.
Reduces blood sugar levels
It has been found to have hypoglycemic effects, reducing blood sugar levels by containing terpenoids and sterols.
In fact, studies are being carried out to see if it can be useful in the treatment of diabetes in the future.
It is rich in powerful antioxidants such as polyphenols and triterpenoids. These are especially useful in fighting free radicals.
Studies have shown that it is able to protect lymphocytes from oxidative degeneration.
Its benefits are being studied for the treatment of tumors and cancerous processes.
Since 1958, the Chaga mushroom has been the subject of studies to see if it can prevent and treat cancerous processes due to its great antioxidant and immune system strengthening capacity.
The results are good, although research is still ongoing. But the first results indicate that it can be used to inhibit tumor cells’ growth, better resist cell oxidation and DNA damage.
Inhibitor of genetic mutations
Other studies have found that it may help prevent genetic problems by preventing RNA and DNA mutations from occurring; more facts are still under investigation.
Nowadays, the human body gets little sun exposure; it presents vitamin D deficiency in many cases.
Because Chaga contains generous amounts of vitamin D2, it helps the vitamin be better absorbed and converted.
Therefore, it is an excellent photo protector, as it protects the body, eyes, and skin from ultraviolet radiation.
Especially skin tissues. This property, together with the one it presents as an inhibitor of cell growth, makes it especially useful in treating psoriasis.
These are tons of benefits, aren’t they? For all these reasons, and because of the research being carried out on the Chaga mushroom, it is considered a superfood that we will use a lot as a protector in the future.
It will help us protect ourselves from pollution, solar radiation, stress caused by a much faster lifestyle, and all those common external factors that we suffer more aggressively.
Chaga mushroom tea side effects
Like any other superfood, there are also precautions rather than contraindications for the chaga mushroom.
As always, it is advisable that when you try it for the first time, consume a small piece to rule out allergies.
You should also consult your doctor before consuming it if you take medication since food can interfere with it and reduce or enhance its effects in excess. Or even other side effects may occur.
Special care should be taken in these two cases:
If you are taking medication for diabetes, you should consult with a specialist since reducing sugar can cause hypoglycemia.
Similarly, if you are taking anticoagulant drugs, you should also consult your doctor, which may increase the risk of hemorrhages and hematomas. For the same reason, it should not be mixed with aspirin.
As it has parts that are not digestible, it is usually marketed as a pure powdered extract. A very usual way to take it is infused by mixing the powder with water. It can also be consumed in the form of capsules that already contain the powder inside.
Once the Chaga tea bag’s shelf life is over, it can be used as a plant fertilizer.
The recommended dose is 2-3 cups a day. Also, Chaga infusions can be re-used 3 and 4 times, but you must keep the bags in the refrigerator between one infusion and another.