What is Chaga?
Although it’s not much to look at, Chaga, or the “King of Medicinal Mushrooms” as some like to call it, is a very special medicinal mushroom that is gaining popularity in the west for its health benefits and appealing taste in the form of chaga tea.
These benefits have long been known in the East, where Chaga has been used for centuries by people in Siberia, Russia and other parts of Asia.
What does it look like and where does it come from?
What we know as “Chaga” is actually the dense black mass of mycelia (roughly 10″ to 15″ in size) that appears on the outside of birch trees infected with the non-toxic parasitic fungus Inonotus Obliquus.
The hard & cracked black exterior, which looks like burnt charcoal, is called the sclerotium (Fig 1).
The interior is softer and has a rusty yellow-brown color that can be seen when it’s removed from the birch tree and broken into chunks (Fig 2).
In general, Chaga Mushrooms are mostly found in very cold habitats and grow predominantly on birches.
More specifically, Chaga grows wild in the birch forests of Russia, Korea, Eastern and Northern Europe, Northern areas of the United States and in Canada.
What are the Health Benefits?
Although research is ongoing, credible studies have shown that the Chaga Mushroom may provide several health benefits, including:
Stimulates and regulates the immune system
Nutritional support in the fight against cancer
Anti-aging & Skin care
Ulcers and Gastritis
Supports normal cholesterol levels & Blood pressure
Please read our Health Benefits post for more information about its medicinal potential.
Chaga has a naturally occurring vanillin, the same as found in the vanilla bean. Therefore, it takes on a slight hint of vanilla flavor when consumed as a tea and doesn’t taste anything like a regular mushroom.
There are several ways to consume Chaga, but hot water extraction (e.g. Chaga Tea) is the most common and simplest way to enjoy it.
However, a quality dual extract is the only way to extract all of the healthy bioactive ingredients that are locked inside. This method typically combines both hot water and alcohol extraction methods, but can vary in sophistication.