Please enter search term

Chaga Tea: Benefits of This Unusual but Health-Boosting Beverage

August 18, 2018

Story at-a-glance

  • For hundreds of years, chaga mushrooms have been used in folk medicine. Today, studies prove that these mushrooms are filled with compounds and nutrients that can help people achieve optimal health
  • Continue reading this article to learn more about the impressive health benefits of chaga tea and how you can include it in your daily routine

Are you tired of drinking the same old tea over and over? Chaga mushroom tea may be a good option for you. Chaga tea has been used in Russia and other Baltic countries for hundreds of years to boost immunity and improve overall health.1 It is now gaining popularity in Western countries, as numerous studies are touting the nutritional components of chaga mushrooms. Continue reading this article to learn more about the impressive health benefits of chaga tea and how you can include it in your daily routine.

What Is Chaga Tea?

Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is a parasitic fungus commonly found in cold climates, typically in Siberia, Alaska and Northern Canada.2 It is usually attached to birch trees, with the infection eventually killing the tree and the mushroom dying soon after.3

Trees infected with it develop a black growth on their bark reminiscent of charcoal, with a brown interior.4 Chaga mushrooms come irregularly shaped and cracked with a distinct cork-like texture. They typically grow within arms’ reach, making them easily accessible for harvest. However, in some instances the mushrooms may grow at heights of 10 to 30 feet.5

While chaga may look like something you wouldn’t want anywhere near you or your beloved trees, it is actually popular for its wide array of health benefits. Its high concentration of vitamins, minerals and nutrients paved the way for chaga to be lauded as a superfood.6

After numerous studies showed the benefits of chaga consumption, chaga product availability in the market increased. These products range from raw chaga mushroom chunks to chaga tea, skin cream, lip balm and joint rubs. However, brewing chaga tea may be the easiest way for you to benefit from this mushroom.

The Health Benefits of Chaga Tea

Before it became widely popular, chaga tea was already being widely utilized in Russia, Poland and other Baltic countries. It is valued for its antioxidant, antimicrobial and tumor-preventive properties.7 In addition to these uses, chaga tea may:

Chaga Tea Nutrition Facts: Does It Contain Caffeine?

Chaga tea contains vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B2, vitamin D, calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus that are essental to keeping the body at peak condition.11

If you’re caffeine-sensitive or you’re trying to limit your caffeine intake, the good news is that chaga tea is caffeine-free. It’s also free of other stimulants like methylxanthines, including theophylline and theobromine. This makes it ideal for drinking in the morning and at evening.12

Here’s How You Can Brew Chaga Tea

When brewing your first batch of chaga tea, it’s important that you use wild chaga instead of the lab-grown kind. Also, note that you’ll achieve better extraction the more you crush the chaga mushrooms into powder. Brewing this type of tea yields an earthy and natural-tasting tea with hints of vanilla, due to the trace amounts of vanillin found in the mushroom.

To help you brew chaga tea, here’s a step-by-step guide from David Wolfe’s book “Chaga: King of the Medicinal Mushrooms:”13

How to Make Chaga Tea

Directions

  1. Fill a glass teapot with cold water. Put the ground chaga or chunks in the water.
  2. Allow the herbs to steep in cold water from a few minutes to an hour.
  3. After steeping, take the cold water up to a hot temperature slowly to about three-fourths of the temperature to a full boil. You can do this in 45 minutes to an hour. The slow rise in temperature will allow a better extraction of the chaga essences.
  4. Using a strainer, push the chaga chunks away from the surface of the tea. Dip a ladle in the area within the strainer to get the filtered tea. Enjoy!

How to Correctly Store Chaga Tea

If you’re fortunate enough to live in a region where you can get fresh chaga, you’d need to know how to correctly store the mushrooms. Fresh chaga is susceptible to mold, so any type of moisture can be extremely damaging to it. If you have fresh chaga on hand, make sure that your supply is completely dry before storage. Here’s how to store your fresh chaga correctly: 14

  1. After harvest, dry your fresh, wild chaga in direct sunlight for several days. Make sure that you bring the chaga in during the night and only bring it out during the daytime.
  2. If sun exposure is not possible, you have the option of using a dehydrator. Set the dehydrator at a temperature of about 105 degrees Fahrenheit. You may also use a stove for drying out the chaga mushrooms. Set it at 200 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. However, you have to keep a close eye on the chaga to avoid burning.
  3. Once dry, break the chaga into golf-sized chunks with a mortar and pestle, or wrap the chaga in a small towel and carefully break with a hammer.
  4. Store the dry chaga chunks in airtight glass containers. Use the chaga as needed.

Note that if a white film develops on the outer bark, it can still be used, but do so immediately. Mildewed chaga should not be stored as this is not usually present in the mushrooms; rather, mildew develops due to improper storage.

Chaga Tea Side Effects and Contraindications

While chaga tea boasts of impressive health benefits, its consumption may amplify the symptoms of numerous conditions, which include:15

Boost Your Immune System With Chaga Tea

With its impressive nutrient and antioxidant load, chaga tea may just be the next big thing in health maintenance. Its ability to help strengthen the immune system and ease inflammation is enough reason to add this herbal tea to your routine. Just make sure you get chaga mushrooms from trustworthy sources so you can be entirely sure that you’ll be getting all the health benefits they have to offer.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Chaga Tea

Q: How much chaga tea should I drink?

A: Because of the varying tolerance that people may have for chaga tea, it’s best that you consult a health care professional to know the recommended amount.

Q: How long does chaga tea last?

A: When refrigerated, chaga tea may last for up to 14 days.16

Q: Where can I buy chaga tea?

A: There are numerous stores that sell different types of chaga mushrooms. You can get them in chunks or in powdered form. Some health stores also offer chaga teabags for an easier brewing experience. However, make sure that you’re getting chaga from reputable sources to guarantee that you’re getting only the highest quality possible.

Q: What does chaga tea taste like?

A: Chaga tea tastes earthy and a little bitter, but not unpleasant. It’s also said to have hints of vanilla, thanks to the trace amounts of vanillin in the mushroom. Note that the taste may vary depending on the quality of the chaga mushrooms.17

Previous ArticleDairy Debate: Should Nondairy Beverages Be Labeled as ‘Milk’? Next ArticleDr. Cowan on Vaccines, Autoimmunity and the Changing Nature of Childhood Illness

Sources and References

  • 1, 7 Department of Botany, Szent Istvan University, 2017
  • 2 Huffington Post, Chaga Health Benefits: 7 Reasons to Consume This Mushroom
  • 3 Huffington Post, 2012
  • 4 SAGE Publications, 2018
  • 5 The Mychophile, 47:1, 2006
  • 6, 11 Medical News Today, 2017
  • 8 J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Oct 11;137(3):1077-82
  • 9 Biomed Pharmacother. 2017 Nov;95:1669-1677
  • 10 Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology Volume 2010, Article ID 943516
  • 12, 13, 14 Chaga: King of the Medicinal Mushrooms, 2012
  • 15 WebMD, Chaga
  • 16 Tara Thorne, 2016
  • 17 Wild Alaska Chaga, Harvest
  • Most Popular