Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Chaga-Superfood, a Chi-Tea Recipe

Chaga Chai
Easy Home-Prep

In the great birch tree forests of the world, in Russia, Eastern Europe, Canada, Alaska and Maine, some trees bulge out with a seeming excrescence, a myco-medicinal, called Chaga.

The weird growth or "conk" resembles the burls which emerge from redwood or walnut, though burls are not birch tree Chaga.

Forest trees also grow more familiar shelf fungus; Chaga breaks through birch bark; is black and woody and deeply medicinal; the woody interior is a saffrony-brown.

As I'm writing this I wonder about the Ice Age migrations of tribes and families through tundra and cold weather forests. In their brief summers, tribal healers gathered roots and herbs, edible mushrooms, and perhaps Chaga as strengthening medicine.

Chaga as medicine? For whom? Olympic athletes? 


It has also been collected through millennia by woodcrafters and village shamans as a vitality, longevity and immune-boosting tea. 

Its superfood value in cancer-intervention fuels our current harvesting imperatives; pic below from the London link:

Knowledge, accrued through generations, taught that--Chaga will regrow--if harvested without greed, the tree not gouged into. An Alaska source quotes a five year regrowth process.

Which brings me to modern gimme-now

You might want to be sure that any Chaga you seek out is wildcrafted from living, unpolluted forest. The term used would be "sustainably harvested."

"Highly-motivated commercial foragers are quickly removing Chaga found near roads and hiking trails, making Chaga increasingly hard to find. Harvesters wielding hatchets and saws badly wound the trees they harvest from, exposing the fragrant and soft fungally digested wood to fungus-loving insects, potentially increasing the spread of insect-carried diseases."

Enter BigPharma: Commercial lab production is being actively researched, with the presentation that the resulting product will be "pure." We'll see.

Chaga is available as tincture and capsules, or chunks, granules and powder for tea.

A Maine friend brews a morning cuppa of powdered chaga and powdered chai spices, weaning herself from caffeine without any feelings of deprivation!

Here's a Chaga Chai Recipe using un-powdered ingredients with a low-tech brewing method. 

*You might include 1 Tbs dried elderberry for an even yummier brew, with an anti-viral effect:

2Qt (2liters) filtered water
1-2Tbs Chaga granules or 1-2 chunks 
1 Tbs dried ginger root or slices of fresh
1 cinnamon stick or 1+tsp cinn.bark chips
1+tsp whole cloves 
1/2 tsp cardamom seed
1/4 tsp black pepper corns

Adding these anti-microbial spices to the Chaga, is a sound idea most any time of the year, but especially during times of infuenza or respiratory "crud." 

Black pepper, in its derivative "bioperine" is included in nutriceuticals as a potentizer or synergist; it's also anti-microbial.

Some folks recommend using a crock pot for overnight or all day Chaga slow-cooking. It works.

Moi, am not sanguine about: 
1) Needless utility usage or 
2) Viability of the power grid.

A low-tech brewing method follows: 

At bedtime, bring water to simmer/boil in a Pyrex (tempered glass) tea pot or enamel pot. Turn off heat. Add Chaga and spices.

Set the covered Chaga Chai pot in a towel-lined cardboard box. Tuck it in for the night with towel-surround and ignore till morning. 

By then the Chai will be rich brown, redolent and still warm or hot depending on the degree of insulation.

The Chaga and spices can be rebrewed with good taste and effect; watch for a tendency to boil over. Settle it into its low-tech incubator for a second brew, and enjoy again. 

I bring a jar of the cold tea to sip when I'm out and about, and another to share.


  1. Your depth of knowledge in such matters never ceases to amaze me. A wonder life of knowledge gathering so freely given. Thanks!

  2. Kevin, kind of you. In childhood, I was fortunate in the knowledge base and skills of my mother's family, who were also good storytellers and generous-with-time teachers. A family which enjoys children.

    My grandmother had been a school teacher. She was a staunch friend, a grand cook, seamstress at a treadle sewqing machine; made butter and did canning.

    Granddaddy kept bees, chickens, a Jersey cow, and a law office on the Court House Square. He gardened organically, before common sense gardening had to be differentiated from poison-Ag!

    How-to writing and storytelling evolved for me out of their mentoring lineage. Thank you, Kevinn.


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