What is Chaga Mushroom Tea – Health Benefits and How to Make It

Chaga is a unique mushroom that grows in harsh conditions and contains many beneficial nutrients. It has been used as a natural remedy for thousands of years, and its healing powers have later been confirmed by scientific research.

Read this article to learn more about chaga mushroom tea, how to make it, and what health benefits it can provide.

What is Chaga Mushroom Tea

Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) is a fungus that grows in cold northern forests. It is a dark-colored mushroom founds mainly in Scandinavia, Russia, Canada, the US, and Japan.

It grows usually on a trunk off of a birch tree. When the trunk of the tree gets damaged, or a branch is ripped off by storm or by some animal, chaga mushroom can start growing on the wound of the birch tree. The mushroom then forms a protective layer on the tree.

Humans have used chaga mushroom for thousands of years. It has been used as a traditional remedy by the Russian and Scandinavian indigenous people as well as Chinese herbalists.

The word Chaga comes from the Komi-Permyak language and means mushroom. Komi-Permyak is the language of indigenous people living near the Ural Mountains of Russia. These indigenous people and the Khanty people of Siberia were probably the first people to discover the health benefits of chaga mushroom.

A family of Khanty people in a picture taken about 100 years ago

During the 16th and 17th centuries, the benefits of Chaga mushroom was more widely recognized in Russia and northern Europe. Chaga mushroom was used as a traditional medicine for cancer, tuberculosis, and ulcers. Later its health benefits have also been widely researched by scientific methods and more recently it has become a popular superfood all over the world.

Maybe you are wondering how chaga mushroom tea tastes like? You might think that a tea brewed from a dark mushroom will not have a very pleasant taste. In my opinion, the taste is not bad at all. Chaga tea doesn’t really have a strong taste of mushroom. Instead, the flavor is kinda earthy and not very strong in my opinion. It tastes quite pleasant on its own, but you can also mix it with honey or some other herbs to enhance the flavor.

Chaga Tea Health Benefits

Chaga mushroom typically grows in areas where the winters are very cold and it’s exposed to snow, ice, and freezing temperatures, while in the summer the temperature can get hot and it’s exposed to UV radiation.

Chaga also has to compete with many other life forms such as bacteria, worms, and other fungi. It produces many bioactive compounds to protect itself against its competitors and to survive the harsh environment it grows in.

The main benefits of chaga mushroom tea are:

  • Helps with preventing cancer: The antioxidants found in chaga mushroom help with preventing cancer and slowing its growth. A study from 2010 found that chaga can slow down the growth of breast, lung, and cervical cancer cells. Another study indicates that the triterpenes of chaga can help with killing cancer cells.
  • Strengthens the immune system and fights inflammation: Chaga helps with regulating the cytokine production, which enables our immune system to work more effectively and aids with controlling inflammation.
  • It contains a high amount of beneficial nutrients: Chaga mushroom is a superfood rich in antioxidants, vitamins (B vitamins, and vitamin D), minerals, and other nutrients.
  • Can lower cholesterol levels: Research indicates that the antioxidants in chaga mushroom can help with reducing the LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and increasing the HDL (“good”) cholesterol.

Next, I recommend that you watch this amazing video explaining all about chaga mushroom health benefits:

Side Effects

In general, chaga mushroom is considered safe. However, if you are using any medication, consult your doctor first to avoid possibly dangerous interactions. You should be especially careful if you are using insulin, or other medications for lowering blood sugar, because chaga can also lower blood sugar levels.

Where to Get It

Hundreds of years ago chaga mushroom used to be quite common natural remedy in certain places and cultures. More recently it has regained its popularity and is now available all over the globe. The most convenient option for obtaining chaga is to buy it online. You might also find it in some of your local stores, or harvest it from the forest if you live in a northern area where it grows.

Harvest it

I am originally from Finland, and chaga mushrooms are a common sight there. I have never harvested them myself, but I have used chaga harvested by my friend. If you want to harvest it, you have to make sure that you know what you are doing.

There are many things to consider when harvesting chaga mushroom. Make sure that you identify the mushroom correctly, harvest it the right way, and do not harm the tree. You should also dry and store it properly. There are other things to keep in mind as well, so make sure that you read this guide carefully before attempting to harvest it.

A chaga mushroom on a tree
A chaga mushroom growing on a birch tree

Order Online

The safest and most convenient way for trying chaga mushroom tea is to order it online.

Buddha Teas Online Store has excellent quality chaga available in tea bags and as a loose leaf tea. With their products, you can be sure to get an organic and sustainably harvested chaga that is free of any added flavorings or preservatives. They also have a wide selection of other herbal teas, and offer free shipping in the US for all orders above $50. If you live in the UK, Australia, or New Zealand, you can choose your location in the online store to order from your local branch.

Buddha Teas Chaga Loose Leafbuddha teas chaga loose leaf

Buddha Teas loose leaf chaga mushroom tea is an excellent product that is already ground, so preparing it is much easier and faster compared to having bigger chunks. It is harvested from the forests of North America and has a nice earthy flavor.

You can prepare this tea by steeping it for about 20 minutes, and you can still use it a second time to extract all the beneficial compounds. See the complete instructions for making chaga tea in the next chapter.

Buddha Teas Chaga Tea Bags

Buddha Teas chaga in tea bags is a great, hassle-free option for preparing a cup of chaga tea. It is sustainably harvested and packed in eco-friendly unbleached tea bags. These tea bags are a very easy and convenient way of enjoying a cup of tasty and healthy chaga tea!

How to Make Chaga Mushroom Tea

If you have harvested the chaga mushroom by yourself it is probably a big chunk that you have to break down first. Some chaga products also come in big chunks. You can break down the chunks with a knife and then further grind them, or use a mortel and pestle to powderize the mushroom. The bigger the chunks you are using, the more time you need to steep them.

I suggest using a chaga mushroom product that is already ground or powdered (like the ones introduced above). This way the tea is much easier and faster to prepare.

chaga powder
Powdered chaga mushroom

How to prepare 4 cups (1 liter) of chaga tea:

  1. Pour 4 cups (1 liter) of spring water (or filtered water) into a kettle. Add about 4 tablespoons of chaga mushroom.
  2. Heat the water to 160°F – 170°F (65°C – 75°C). Don’t let the water temperature rise over 180°F (about 80°C) because it will destroy some of the beneficial compounds. You can use a thermometer to monitor the water temperature. If you don’t have a suitable thermometer, heat the water until small bubbles start to form on the bottom of the kettle and then turn off the heat. Make sure to stir it every once in a while.
  3. The steeping time depends on the size of chaga chunks/particles that you are using. If you are using a finely ground powder, 10 to 15 minutes is enough. With a bit coarser grind it should be steeped for at least 20 minutes. If you are using bigger chunks you should let it brew for a minimum of 2 hours, and even up to 8 hours, in order to release the beneficial compounds.
making chaga tea
Chaga tea brewing in a kettle

Chaga Alcohol Infusion

You can also use alcohol for making a chaga tincture. The advantage of using alcohol is, that it can extract some compounds that are not infused into the water. In addition, you can store the alcohol-based infusion for a much longer time (up to 2 years). If you are making chaga tea, you can save the remaining chaga and use alcohol to get everything out of it.

Here is how to make a chaga tincture:

  1. Break the chaga into small chunks or use a product that is already ground. I prefer using fine powder as it makes the process much faster.
  2. Take a glass jar and put the chaga mushroom in it. To make a strong infusion you can almost fill the jar with chaga, just leave at least one-inch space from the top of the jar.
  3. Fill the jar with vodka (or gin) that is at least 100% proof. The stronger the alcohol, the better.
  4. Mix the contents, close the jar, and let it sit for at least 2 months. Mix or shake the jar at least once every week. If you are using larger chunks let it sit for about 6 months. Keep it in a dark place away from sunlight.
  5. When the infusion is ready, you can filter it through a coffee filter, a cloth, or another type of filter.

As making the tincture takes some time and it can also be stored for a long time, I recommend making a big batch while you’re at it. You can use the tincture for example by adding one teaspoon of it to a glass of juice or smoothie.

Are You Ready to Try Chaga?

Chaga mushroom tea is a great natural remedy that is rich in beneficial compounds and provides us with many health benefits. You might be a bit suspicious about drinking a tea made from mushrooms, but I recommend that you give it a try.

If you have any questions before you are ready to try chaga mushroom tea, go ahead and post them below.

Or have you already tried it? Then please post a comment, and tell me about your experiences.

If you want to read more about herbal teas, here are some hand-picked articles that you might be interested in:

Enjoy your Chaga Tea and stay healthy!

-Joonas

Ps. If you liked this article, please share it so others can find it too. Thank you!

 

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4 thoughts on “What is Chaga Mushroom Tea – Health Benefits and How to Make It”

  1. As I started reading the article I was thinking man I have to try this stuff, why haven’t I heard about it before! I’m into health and fitness and have read about most herbs and natural remedies extensively.

    Then I read you’re from Finland, as am I, and realized you are talking about pakurikääpä. I have used it a lot when I can get it harvested fresh. I never buy it because it’s very expensive these days.

    I had never heard it’s called Chaga in English. I learned a new word and a lot of new information about Chaga so thanks for the read!

    Reply
    • Hi Jukka,

      First time I heard about Chaga mushroom I was also wondering what is it. Then I started searching with Google and after seeing the pictures realized what it is and that I have been using it in Finland.

      Nice to hear that my article provided you with new information. And now you also know that chaga=pakurikääpä!

      -Joonas

      Reply

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