Chaga – A Fine Fungus

Maple was the one to first learn about chaga – at the Thai restaurant that we frequent most regularly (it’s a little take-out spot on the way home) he was chatting with one of the cooks about foraging mushrooms and the cook brought up chaga. He mentioned that if we ever found chaga he’d be willing to buy it to send to family back home (in Thailand) where it was incredibly popular as a cancer preventative.

Maple and I had both heard vaguely about Chaga – that it was supposed to be super high in antioxidants. After doing some research, and just to give you some perspective, Chaga has about ten times the antioxidants that Acai berries have. Chaga is also super easy to identify so Maple and I decided to do some harvesting of our own.

Chaga is a fungus that grows on several kinds of trees but up here it grows on birch trees and visible protrudes from the trunk of the tree. To harvest Chaga one chops it off with a hatchet, dries it, grinds it down into a super fine powder and then steeps it in water to drink in tea. Maple and I were super excited to test out our mill grinding KitchenAid attachment that we’d been given as a wedding present and hadn’t yet gotten to use.

Dried Chaga.

Dried Chaga.

Chaga super closeup

Kitchen aid ready to go

chaga grinding

ground chaga in bowl

I was expecting Chaga tea to taste like dirt and leaves but it actually tastes pretty innocuous (perhaps a little musty?). Maple and I read a bunch of conflicting advice on how long to let Chaga steep so we let it steep super long the first time (about four hours). Drinking Chaga tea definitely had an effect on us. Maple got super intense and was bouncing off the cabin (he had about a quart of tea though and I had 1/2 a cup. We gave some to friends who all reported differing experiences – some didn’t feel anything, some felt light-headed, some felt physically elevated. All of this lasted maybe 30 minutes to an hour after drinking the tea.

Chaga is catching on in popularity (currently it sells for about $10.00/oz on Amazon) so Maple got bit by the bug and harvest probably close to 20 lbs this winter (it grows on a lot of the trees on our Trapline). I don’t think we’ll be selling it anytime soon but it’s certainly nice to build up our supply. We were drinking it pretty faithfully for a little while but grinding the Chaga was pretty hard on the ol’ KitchenAid so we’re on hold while we order a couple parts.

To make our tea we just steeped about 1/2 a cup in a french press for four hours then stored it in a mason jar. Chaga tea lasts about a week before you need to make more.

I would definitely recommend Chaga tea to someone who is curious about it – the labor of actually making it isn’t that intense (just be prepared to be hard on whatever grinder you’re using) and the taste is pretty good – just maybe add a little milk.

Cheers and Love,

Maple and Me

final product

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