What is Chaga?
Chaga (Inonotus Obliquus), also known as the “Mushroom of Immortality,” is an edible fungus that grows on birch trees. This non-toxic fungus feeds on the tree, concentrating nutrients into a form that can be assimilated by humans. Chaga maintains both a symbiotic and parasitic relationship with the tree it grows on and can help to heal damage and bring a dying tree back to life. It can be found growing in the boreal forest regions of northern Europe, Russia, and Canada This precious life force takes 3-5 years to reach maturity before it can be harvested.
Why Consume Chaga?
Wild-harvested chaga contains one of the highest antioxidant levels of any food. It contains a range of B vitamins, enzymes, and minerals such as calcium, potassium, zinc, and iron. Further, chaga is a rich source of the enzyme nutrient superoxide dismutase (SOD), which boasts antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic effects. This enzyme is made in the body but natural production declines after the age of 25. Chaga belongs to a class of herbs called adapogens, which exert a normalizing effect on the body to promote homeostasis. The regular consumption of chaga can aid to:
- Calm the nervous system to reduce stress
- Improve adrenal function
- Support cleansing of the liver and kidneys
- Support immune function
- Reduce inflammation
- Improve digestive function
- Reduce physical pain
- Balance blood sugar
Brewing Chaga Tea
Chaga comes in different forms, which include:
- Ground Powder
- Steam Extracted Powder
The most important thing about purchasing chaga is that is it ethically wild-harvested. The medicinal properties of wild-grown chaga are far superior to cultivated chaga.
The form of chaga you purchase will dictate the way you brew your tea. While chunks can be simmered in water for hours, steam-extracted chaga will dissolve in warm water immediately.
Directions for Brewing Chaga From Chunks: Simmer 2-3 chunks per litre of water for between 30 minutes and 5 hours at around 65 degrees celsius. Once ready, strain off the pieces and keep them in the refrigerator. The nutrients from these chunks can be re-extracted for up to three times. You can also grind the chunks into granules and make a tea using a filter or a french press. This will not require as long to steep. For chaga chunks and granules, the longer you brew the tea, the deeper and earthier the flavour will be. It can develop notes of vanilla and subtle bitterness over time, tasting similar to coffee.
Chocolate Chaga Elixir Recipe
This is a comforting, nutritive way to reap the many benefits of this adaptogenic medicinal mushroom. The cacao and chaga complement each other well in this recipe as the grounding fungus subdues the stimulating effects of the cacao. You can enjoy this beverage warm or cold, depending on the temperature of the tea. Because of the long brewing time, you can brew enough chaga tea for a week and store it in the fridge. This recipe makes two servings.
- Large pot for brewing chaga tea
- High-speed blender
- 1.5 cups warm chaga tea
- ½ cup soaked walnuts
- 4 pitted dates
- 1.5 tablespoons cacao powder
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup or local raw honey
- 1 teaspoon ghee (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
- Brew chaga tea (instructions above).
- Blend all ingredients in high-speed blender until smooth.
- Taste and adjust spices and sweetness to preference.
- If using cooled tea, slowly warm up mixture on stovetop.
- You can find chaga at herbal dispensaries and at the Nectar shop or kiosk where we sell Sun Potion Chaga Mushroom Powder.
- Various modifications can be made to this recipe:
- Honey can be substituted with a pinch of stevia powder.
- Dates can be substituted with banana.
- Walnuts can be substituted for almonds, hazelnuts, or cashews. It is important to soak all nuts overnight or for at least 7 hours to disable anti-nutrients and improve digestibility.
Interesting Facts About Chaga:
- Chaga mushroom is not classified as a plant or animal yet the DNA composition is 30% more human than plant.
- Chaga can only be harvest from trees that are 15-20 years old. The older the tree, the more medicinally powerful the chaga will be.
- When chaga is ingested with cholesterol the nutrients become more bioavailable (that’s why this recipe includes ghee!).
With Love and Nectar,
Photography by Alexa Mazzarello.
Recipe adapted from www.ayurvedanextdoor.com