How to Prepare Chaga Tea
Chaga mushrooms are an ultimate super food that can be found wherever Birch trees grow. The antioxidant benefits from chaga mushrooms far outweigh what can be found in green tea. Chaga mushrooms also increase the activity of natural killer cells in the body by 300%. Like many plants, the chaga mushrooms have been used for thousands of years in herbal medicines and remedies around the world. They are usually served as a tea and they are used in 46 different prescription medicines for their Botulin and botulinic acid. Learning how to prepare chaga tea is easy for anyone to do at home.
Why Should I Learn How to Prepare Chaga Tea?
Why should you learn how to prepare chaga tea when you can easily access green tea or other tinctures that claim to be great antioxidant and immune boosters? The characteristic that makes chaga mushrooms incredibly special is that they are primary adaptogens. In areas around the world where chaga tea is regularly consumed, including Russia, the rate of cancer is much lower than in other locations. Chaga tea is also extremely effective in relieving stomach illnesses.
Chaga tea is a known immune modulator, anti-tumor and anti-cancer agent, and Geno protective agent with incredible detoxification properties. The mushrooms also are a great source of vitamins and minerals. One of the reasons why chaga is so powerful against tumor and cancer is because it has a large quantity of melanin that turns the mushroom black. Melanin in high concentration can fight radiation and protect DNA through the activation of the pineal gland.
The chaga mushroom must be prepared to get the proper benefits from the fungi. The bioactive ingredients, like beta-glucans, are locked inside the chitin cells walls. This substance is the hardest natural material known to man and cannot be ingested without proper preparations. This is why knowing the two ways of how to prepare chaga tea is so important.
Major Benefits of Chaga:
- Immune system booster
- Anti-cancer agents
- High in antioxidants (7 total)
- Free radical scavenger
The History of Chaga Tea
Chaga tea was originally used medicinally in Siberia in the 12th century and Tsar Vladimir Monomakh was known for regularly using chaga, which he said, was the cure for his lip cancer. Chaga began being documented in medical texts in the 16th and 17th centuries in northern Europe. In these texts Chaga is said to treat cancer, ulcers, and tuberculosis.
Famous Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn discusses the healing benefits of chaga mushrooms in relation to cancer in his novel Cancer Ward. After Cancer Ward was released, over 1,600 papers were published investing the properties of chaga.
How to Identify Chaga
Chaga is always black on the outside with a hard shell and a yellowish-brown inside. The chaga mushrooms are found growing on birch trees in deciduous forests. The shape of the mushrooms varies from cone shaped to heart shaped. Chaga can easily be cut from the tree using a knife or axe. They begin around one inch in diameter but can grow to up to a foot in diameter.
When searching for Chaga, hike in northern hemisphere taiga forests and search birch trees. The mushrooms are most commonly found in Finland, Russia, Canada, and Alaska. Chaga can be found between two and ten feet from the base of the birch trunk and the mushroom eventually kills the tree. The best time to harvest chaga is during the winter months (November – March in Alaska).
Hot Water Extraction for Chaga Tea
The most common way to prepare chaga tea is with hot water extraction. This method is also the most cost effective and easiest way to prepare the chaga tea. Anyone who can prepare traditional tea can use the hot water extraction method for chaga tea.
Using a tea ball to steep dried chaga mushrooms is the easiest way to make chaga tea. Place the chunks of chaga mushroom in the tea ball and steep in hot water for about an hour until the water turns a brownish color. Once the mushrooms are steeped, remove the tea ball and strain any mushroom pieces that may have escaped the tea ball, then drink the chaga tea.
The hot water extraction method for chaga tea allows the components that are water soluble to be extracted into the water. The downside to the hot water method is that the phytosterols and betulinic acids that are water insoluble will be missing from the tea.
Tincture Double Extraction Method
The best way to prepare chaga tea and get all of its wonderful benefits is by creating a tincture. This method of extraction involves the alcohol derivative of the mushroom. When drinking chaga tea for medicinal benefits, tinctures are more effective at preserving the antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and acids.
Another benefit of the tincture method of extraction for chaga tea is that the chaga tea is quickly absorbed and can be added into food and drink recipes. Making a tincture releases the water insoluble components of the chaga mushroom that the hot water extraction method fails at.
How to Create a Chaga Mushroom Tincture
Tincture methods are called double extraction because both the hot water extraction method and the tincture because must be used because alcohol alone cannot break down the chitin walls.
The alcohol extraction method is used to make the tincture and begins by breaking up and then grinding the chaga mushroom into powder. Using a glass jar, fill the chaga power until half an inch from the top. Fill the rest of the jar with vodka and let sit for 8 weeks. You must shake the jar every day.
This method takes the longest amount of time and is best to make in large quantities for this reason. If you have enough chaga mushrooms to grind into powder and fill a gallon size jar, fill up to 2 inches from the top and fill the rest of the jar with vodka. You must shake or stir the jar daily.
The second part of creating a tincture is through hot water extraction. You must first strain the alcohol from the powder using a cheese cloth. Put the chaga powder into a clay pot and add in the amount of water equal to the amount of alcohol that you used to create the tincture. Mark on the pot where the water level is on the pot and then add more water so that you have double the amount. Boil the contents of the pot and then let simmer. When the water level as reduced down to the mark you made, remove the pot from the heat and let cool completely. Repeat these steps the next day, and again the day after. After you have completed these steps three times, mix the decoction and alcohol from the tincture and keep stored in a glass jar.
The recommendation for consuming chaga tincture is to add 1 tsp to 8oz of any fluid such as a glass of water or smoothie.
Tips and Tricks for Chaga Tea
The hot water extraction method and tincture method may seem easy enough, but there are a few tips and tricks that people have learned and shared along the way to make chaga tea taste good and to get the most benefits out of the mushrooms.
- Add maple syrup or honey to chaga tea for a sweeter taste
- Chaga mushroom chunks can be steeped several times before losing their potency
- Make sure to store chaga tea in a glass jar in the fridge
- Do not store with a lid
- Use vodka that is at least 100 proof however stronger vodkas work best
- Use a spice or coffee grinder to turn the chaga mushrooms into powder
- Shaking the jar for tinctures daily is essential
- Mix Chaga Tinctures into other drinks such as smoothies, coffee, chai, iced tea, or ice cream
- Make sure Chaga mushrooms are dried before using (takes 4-8 weeks)
- Store Chaga mushrooms in a dark, dry place where no humidity can affect the mushrooms
- Chaga mushrooms cannot be grown artificially but you can purchase chaga mushrooms online
- Because chaga mushrooms produce small amounts of vanillin and can sometimes taste slightly like vanilla when steeped in hot water to make tea
Recipes for How to Make Chaga Tea
Chaga tea is easy enough to make, but there are many ways to use chaga tea in recipes you make everyday to make chaga tea more fun and tasty to consume. Here are a couple of our favorite recipes:
Chaga Chai Tea Lattes are a great way to mask the earthy taste of the mushroom. Use 8 ounces of chai tea, 2 teaspoons of ground chaga mushroom powder, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, cinnamon and sugar to personal liking, with 4 ounces of ice. Add everything in a blender and blend until creamy and smooth. Skip the ice and boil together on the stove to enjoy hot chaga chai tea.
Chaga Smoothies are enjoyable for everyone because there are so many different flavor options to choose from. Start with blending fruit of your choice and coconut or almond milk in a blender with ice. Add approximately 15 drops of the tincture mix to a full blender of smoothie. Chaga tinctures can be added to any of your favorite smoothie recipes.