Chaga mushrooms benefit humans, even though they hurt the Birch trees they grow upon. This unique mushroom can be found growing in the wild in North America, and is especially popular in Siberia and other parts of Russia. Here’s how you can prepare the coarse, raw chaga to best utilize its health benefits.
Chaga Mushroom Benefits to Health are Currently Partially Known
Although Chaga has been harvested and used medicinally for hundreds of years, not many studies have been carried out scientifically in the past few decades to find out more about its health benefits against cancer, diseases and other ailments. This is likely due to issues with monetization; pharmaceutical companies tend to invest large amounts of money into clinical studies for drugs they can patent rather than free and natural substances found in the wild.
Chaga Mushroom Nutrition
The composition of raw Chaga can be summarized approximately (due to every natural product having a minor degree of variation) as:
- 159.4 kcal/100 g
- Water 13.2%
- Proteins 2.40%
- Lipids 2.40%
- Ash 10.1%
- Trace amounts of other minerals and substances
Medicinal Mushrooms: Tea, Tincture or Tonight’s Supper?
The question of how to best use a mushroom for its medicinal properties depends on the mushroom itself. Some, like Chaga, are too hard to eat raw or cooked. In fact, you can’t even utilize some of the health benefits of certain mushrooms if you eat them raw. Be sure to do your research and find out if you should take any mushroom raw (either eaten or in powdered, capsule form), as a tea or in a tincture. Some properties might be either water or fat soluble.
How to Make Chaga Tea
After thoroughly washing the Chaga mushrooms you’ve just harvested, this is how you would make them into tea.
- Use a large, heavy knife to break it up into small, quarter-sized chunks. Remember, you want the hot water to s(t)eep into as much of the mushroom as possible.
- Pour one quart / one liter of water into a pot and bring to a boil.
- Add 5 – 7 chunks of Chaga, then reduce the temperature to simmer.
- Let the chaga simmer for 45 – 60 minutes, or until the water has turned a dark reddish brown color. Be careful that your water doesn’t evaporate!
- Strain the tea into a mug and add some maple syrup or honey to taste.
Where to Find & Harvest Chaga Mushrooms for Benefits Year-Round
Chaga are found growing on Birch trees, and rarely found to grow on other species of trees. Birch trees – and therefore Chaga – grow in Canada, Northern USA and even as far south as New Mexico, Oklahoma and Tennessee. This corresponds to Hardiness Zones 2-7.
Chaga has also been found growing in similar climates in Europe, Russia and Asia – again, on Birch trees.
If you’re an amateur mushroom hunter, you’d be well advised to check out posts on mushroom hunting for helpful tips. Using a guide book with hand-drawn pictures rather than photographs is always advisable.
And if you don’t have any luck finding Chaga in the wild, you can always check our online shop to see if we have any hand-picked wild Chaga in stock. It can be stored for years when dried – so you can enjoy chaga mushroom’s benefits for a long, long time!