Some of the coolest, healthiest, most powerful foods in the world are easy to overlook. It’s like nature’s way of keeping them a secret from everyone but the adventurous, curious observer.
Chaga is one of those foods.
Have you heard of chaga? If you follow me on SuperLife.com or if you’ve attended an event where I speak on nutrition, you’ve probably heard me mention it. It’s one of my favorite medicinal plants.
At first glance it looks like burnt charcoal or a charred oversized marshmallow. I guarantee most people would walk right by it the black, cracked outside shell, called the sclerotium. It is just a dense black mass of mycelia that you see growing on the outside of birch trees.
Even the softer rusty, yellowish-brown inside doesn’t look special.
But it is very special.
Chaga has been used by many major Northern climate dynasties for health and healing. It grows everywhere from the northern parts of China, Russia, and Finland, as well as Canada and in the upper northeast United States, including Minnesota and Michigan.
It was about five years ago when I finally tried it. I had studied Chaga and even talked with researchers in Alaska about it, but had never had it myself. I had a sclerotia, the actual mycelia that protrudes off of the weak birch tree. Those guys are heavier than you think! Honestly, I was so fascinated with this ‘chunk’ of Chaga that I did not consume it because I did not want to grind it up. But I finally did. It is surprisingly very, very hard, so it took a lot more effort to break it up than I was expecting. I did break some pieces off and then boiled them for a few hours and drank the tea.
I immediately loved the earthy, deep, somewhat rich taste. This king of mushrooms and “diamond of the forest” was just that; it was almost like I could taste and feel the depth of the forest in every sip, like the very energy of the tree and forest!
Chaga has a very soothing, deeply strong vitality in it with a very satisfying taste.
You know how some teas are very light and you have to kind of pick up on the flavor? Not chaga! Chaga is strong, smooth, and vital!
After that first experience, I learned to find good suppliers of wild harvested chaga and get it already pulverized. This way I could extract all of the constituents and benefits by having more of more surface area to boil from the powder form.
It is easy to make your own chaga tea. Learn more in this video.
I now typically make a couple of gallons at a time with 5-6 tablespoons of powder simmering (not boiling) for about 4-6 hours. For smaller batches, try one tablespoon of powder to 8 cups of water. While making the tea, it is actually important to keep the temperature lower than 180 degrees to protect all the medicinal components. If you keep the brew between 150 to 180 degrees then you won’t destroy all the proteins, sterols, and enzymes.
I typically drink about ½ liter of chaga a day. It’s not the same without having Chaga everyday! The antioxidant and adaptive qualities it has can be such a great alley to combat this modern world of stress and free radicals.
Why should you include this king of the mushrooms, chaga, in your life?
- Anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and antibacterial properties
- Huge immune booster and modulator (but it will also lower an overactive immune system as well)
- Anti-cancer (1)
- Improves skin repair and DNA protection
- High in superoxide dismutase (SOD), an important enzyme that functions as a powerful antioxidant. All together it gives your body seven different antioxidants.(2)
- A free radical scavenger in your body!
If you don’t have time to brew your own tea, try the Chaga from Four Sigmatic. It comes in a single-serve packet that you just open and mix into hot water. You can get it on Amazon or Thrive Market. Plus, many local health stores and Whole Foods will carry it.
You can also look for high-quality bulk powdered versions. I order mine from Z-Naturals and make my own tea weekly.
Making chaga tea a frequent (or even daily) part of your health routine can boost your health in many different ways! Try it out and let me know how it goes.
- Youn MJ, Kim JK, Park SY, et al. Potential anticancer properties of the water extract of Inonotus obliquus by induction of apoptosis in melanoma B16-F10 cells. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Jan 21; 121(2):221-8. Epub 2008 Oct 25.
- Nakajima Y, Sato Y, Konishi T. Antioxidant small phenolic ingredients in Inonotus obliquus (persoon) Pilat (Chaga). Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2007 Aug;55(8):1222-6.