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In Season

Chaga Mushroom

By

Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is a fungus that grows on birch trees. It's mostly found in the Northern U.S., Canada, Russia and part of Northern China. It's a very interesting large mushroom with a black exterior and a deep yellowy orange inside. It has a very pleasant and mild flavor and is described as earthy sweetness. The outside black bark is said to contain most of the potent antioxident power.

For hundreds of years, this fungus has been used to make medicines that are used as anti-inflammatories and antiseptics and more. It's full of antioxidents and helps strengthen the immune system. Some folks have found that it aids in the treatment of skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema and also helps to reduce blood pressure.

This is not an eating mushroom, as it's indigestible for humans. The way to get it's full benefit is by brewing a tea. You can then drink the tea by itself or use it in smoothies, lattes and other beverages.
If you purchase raw unprocessed chaga - you first must remove any parts of tree bark from it. Then, chop the chaga into smaller one inch chunks and dry it. You can leave it as chunks or grind it into a powder. You can also purchase chaga with this step done already.

Chaga Tea
Place small chunks of chaga in a one liter pot of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the water is a rich reddish brown color (about an hour). Strain the tea. You can add your choice honey, ginger, maple syrup or any flavor you'd like.
The chaga mushroom itself can be reused several times. Store it in glass jar without a lid in the refrigerator.
Leftover chaga tea can be stored in the refrigerator as well.

Chaga Chai Latte
Bring 1 cup of chaga tea to a boil with 1 cinnamon stick, a few cloves, a few black peppercorns, a few green cardamom pods, 1 slice of ginger (or any spiced tea mix that you choose). Simmer for 5 minutes. Add cup of milk (any type) and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add your choice of honey, maple syrup or other sweetner. Strain into a mug. If you'd like a little more flavor, cinnamon can be sprinkled on top.

Chaga Smoothie
In a blender-add 1 cup of cold chaga, 1 cup of frozen berries of choice, 1/2 frozen banana and 1 tablespoon cocoa powder. If you like spice, add a little allspice or cinnamon. Blend until smooth. If it's too thick, add more chaga tea to reach desired consistency.

If you're interested in purchasing chaga to make your own tea, our vendor Digger Jays carries hand-foraged chaga from the Appalachian Mountains.

More facts about the history, benefits and uses for chaga can be found at Oriveda.

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