What Is Chaga Mushroom Tea?
Chaga tea is made from Chaga mushrooms, which normally grow on Birch trees. Chaga mushrooms are commonly found in temperate forests in Russia, North America, and the Northern hemisphere. They resemble encrusted black formations or burnt charcoal on the barks of the Birch trees.
To make Chaga tea, people dry and mill the Chaga mushrooms. Depending on how people want to brew their tea, they can grind the mushrooms into different grinds.
Some break them into chunks or big pieces, mill them into a powder, or grind them to form a coarse consistency like that of coffee, known as tea-cut. When milled into a powder, the powder can either be fine or extracted powder.
To make extracted powder, you use freeze-drying, the technique used in making instant coffee. However, this process comprises some health benefits. To make the powder or the tea-cut, you can use your grinder. However, you have to be careful because the mushroom is hard and could destroy your grinder.
The finer the mushrooms become, the more bioactive ingredients people get when drinking the tea because it increases the surface area of water to extract the ingredients.
How Does Chaga Taste?
Chaga is not the most appealing type of mushroom to look at, and from the first impression, you might think that it has an awful taste. The most common way people describe the taste of Chaga mushroom is earthy. It also has a pleasant taste and could even have a fruity or sweet taste.
That is because of vanillin, a naturally occurring compound, and the same one that gives the vanilla taste to vanilla beans. Some factors may affect the taste of your Chaga mushroom, including its growth location, harvesting, and processing method, plus how fresh it is.
If you find that the mushroom is bitter, you should not use it because it is likely spoiled or has a mold infestation.
When To Drink Chaga Mushroom Tea
Chaga tea is perfect for drinking whenever you need a warm drink to soothe, energize, and warm you up. Some of the perfect times to get a cup of tea are;
• In the morning- Chaga mushroom tea helps regulate your metabolism and stimulates you to ensure you have enough energy to start the day. One of the benefits of Chaga tea is that it gives you the stimulation you would get from coffee without the side effects of caffeine. • Before bed- Chaga mushroom tea will help you relax and lower your stress levels, getting you ready for bed. • During flu and cold seasons- Chaga mushroom tea is perfect for fighting bacteria and viruses, giving you an immune boost.
How Much Chaga Mushroom Tea Can I Drink?
Just like everything else, too much Chaga mushroom tea could be harmful to your health. It is best to take one teaspoon in every cup if you are starting and gradually increase the levels. However, do not take more than three cups daily.
Health Benefits Of Chaga Mushroom Tea
For centuries, the Chaga mushroom has been popular because of its numerous health benefits, which is why most people still use it to date. In many cases, people use Chaga mushroom to improve their general health, but there are times when they use it for specific conditions.
Some of the health benefits you can get from drinking Chaga mushroom tea include;
Chaga mushrooms promote the formation of beneficial cytokines, which are specialized proteins that helps regulate your immune system. This, in turn, stimulates your white blood cells, which are vital in fighting any harmful viruses and bacteria.
Chaga mushrooms contain Beta-D-gleans, which help balance the immune system. That helps stimulate your immune system anytime you need a boost to fight diseases and down-regulate it when it’s overactive.
Chaga mushrooms contain a wide range of minerals and vitamins, including;
• Vitamin D • B-complex vitamins • Amino acids • Rubidium • Potassium • Fiber • Zinc • Copper • Cesium • Iron • Selenium • Magnesium • Manganese • Calcium • Chloride • Phosphorus
Can help defend against inflammation
Inflammation is usually a natural immune system response that can help protect you against certain diseases. However, if the inflammation lasts a long time, it could lead to rheumatoid heart arthritis and heart disease.
Chaga mushrooms contain ergosterol peroxide, inotodial, and betulinic acid, which are compounds that prevent cytokines production. Cytokines are the ones responsible for inflammation in the body.
Lowers high blood pressure and sugar
Besides regulating your immune system, Beta-D-gleans also help lower your blood sugar levels, which makes it effective in treating conditions like diabetes.
Chaga is also rich in antioxidants. This helps reduce oxidative stress, which is a high contributor to high blood pressure. This helps keep you safe from conditions like stroke, heart attacks, and other heart-related diseases.
Chaga mushrooms are rich in antioxidants, which help reduce the bad cholesterol, called low-density lipoprotein. Too much cholesterol increases your risk of getting heart disease.
Helps fight and prevent cancer
Chaga mushroom has high levels of betulinic acid, which naturally occurs on the Birch bark and Betulin. The mushroom converts the Betulin into Betinuinic acid, making it easy for us to consume and the body to digest.
Clinical studies have shown that Betulinic acid has anti-tumor benefits, and it also helps reduce tumors that have already started growing. The Betulinic acid activates apoptosis, which causes the cancer cells in the body to self-destruct.
Chaga mushroom also has antioxidant triterpene, which in concentrated amounts help destroy and kill cancer cells.
Slows the aging process
Recently, many people have been seeking treatments to slow or reverse the aging process. One of the benefits of Chaga is that it can do that naturally, with no side effects and no need for surgery.
The high levels of antioxidants in the Chaga mushroom help fight oxidative stress, which is one of the main contributors to the aging symptoms like grey hair plus dull, saggy, and loose skin.
Protects the liver
Chaga could be beneficial for people with alcohol-induced liver toxicity, hepatitis, and other diseases that could affect the liver.
The outer part of the Chaga mushroom is rich in polyphenols, which are antioxidants. These protect you from free radicals, which might cause liver damage or damage other parts of the body.
Boosts intestinal health
There are substances present in the Chaga mushroom that help keep you from stomach ulcers resulting from Helicobacter pylori. The substances inhibit the growth of the pylori bacteria by interfering with the communication of the bacteria.
Chaga Mushroom Tea Side Effects
Before taking Chaga tea, talk to your doctor, especially if you are taking blood-thinning medication because Chaga mushroom tea has a protein that prevents blood clotting, making it a blood thinner.
If you are scheduled for surgery, you should stop taking Chaga mushroom tea a few days before.
One of the main benefits of Chaga mushroom tea is its ability to lower blood sugar levels. If you want to try Chaga mushroom tea and are diabetic, watch your blood sugar levels closely to avoid hypoglycemia.
If you are on diabetic medication, talk to your doctor before you try Chaga mushroom tea because a combination of the two could negatively affect your health.
• Increased risk of kidney disease
Chaga mushroom has one of the highest oxalate levels. As they leave your body, the oxalates from Chaga could bind with calcium and cause kidney stones. If you have any kidney stone risk factors, you should stay away from Chaga mushroom tea.
• Autoimmune disease
One of the benefits of Chaga tea is reducing inflammation. However, it could also make your immune system become overactive, increasing the risk of you getting autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or multiple sclerosis.
How To Make Chaga Mushroom Tea
There are two methods you can use to make Chaga tea; water and alcohol extract techniques.
This is the most common and easiest method. In this method, you get all the benefits from the water-soluble components of the Chaga mushroom.
The most common way of making Chaga tea with water is making it in a pot.
• Four tablespoons of Chaga mushroom • One liter of water
Place the water on a stovetop and bring to a boil, then add the Chaga mushroom. To get the best results, you can add the Chaga mushroom gradually in small bits instead of adding it all at once.
You can use either powder or chunks and simmer the mushrooms on low- medium heat for two to three hours. If you are using an instant pot, simmer for 30 minutes. Simmering helps you get a majority of the health properties from the mushroom.
Once you have simmered the mushroom, remove it from the stovetop and strain the Chaga mushroom. You can add sweeteners to the tea, like honey or syrup. For a more traditional experience, you can add milk to it.
Instead of making the Chaga mushroom tea on a stovetop, some people prefer to make it in their cups. For this, you only add a small amount of Chaga mushroom powder into a cup and add hot water in it, then let it sit for around 15 minutes.
To keep your brewed Chaga mushroom tea fresh, store it in your refrigerator. For best benefits, consume the tea within seven days.
This is a more complicated method of making Chaga mushroom tea, but it gives you more health benefits. That is because some compounds are only soluble in alcohol. For this method, you will need some alcohol and chemistry knowledge.
You also have to be careful, because if you don’t do it well, you might leave some harmful chemicals in the tea.
To make the tea, add pulverized Chaga mushrooms in a mason jar, then add alcohol to it until it covers all your Chaga mushrooms. For best results, vodka is the best alcohol to use. Let your mushrooms and alcohol sit for about a month, and shake it every two days.
Eventually, all the compounds from the Chaga will dissolve into the alcohol, and you can get all the health benefits.
If you are a lover of smoothies and soups, you can add used Chaga powder to your smoothies and soups for added benefits and taste.
How To Harvest Chaga Mushrooms
How you harvest your Chaga mushrooms impacts its taste and how long it will last. The best way to harvest Chaga mushrooms is by taking a small piece of the mushroom using a sharp and clean knife or ax.
Taking the whole mushroom from the tree could not only cause damage to the tree but also kills some of the essential fungi in the mushroom.
Never harvest Chaga mushrooms from dead trees because the Chaga mushroom will most likely be dead and infected by dangerous fungi.
Freshly harvested Chaga mushrooms have a high chance of getting mold, which is why you should work fast in drying them. If you are drying them at home, dry them in a dry, warm, well-ventilated room. Ensure that you cut the big chunks into small pieces to ensure they dry properly.
The best way to store your Chaga mushrooms is by having them in an air-tight container and away from direct sunlight. If you bought your Chaga from the store, keep them in their air-tight package.
If you store Chaga mushrooms properly, they will remain good for consumption and retain their medical properties for up to two years.
How To Get The Best Chaga Mushrooms
Chaga mushrooms differ from supplier to supplier and also depending on the tree they were harvested from. Before buying Chaga mushrooms, you need to determine their purity and quality. Some of the things you can do to ensure that you get the best quality Chaga mushrooms include;
• Ask for third-party testing credentials- Third-party testing lets you know the quality of the Chaga and the compounds present in it. Testing also lets you if there are any chemicals like pesticides in the mushrooms. • Ask about where the Chaga is from- By understanding where the vendor got it from, you know how it was cultivated and harvested. • Look at the color- The color of the Chaga may vary from dark brown to orange, depending on whether the vendor removed the outer layer of the mushroom. If you want the one that still has the outer layer, look for the dark brown one.