Where to find Chaga Mushroom
There is a large grove of birch trees on the property, we will harvest what we need that grows wild around us.
The wild chaga mushroom is a fungus that grows mainly in birch trees.
It can be found protruding from the tree as a dark burnt looking irregular form usually looking like a cone or horn.
The Chaga mushroom can grow as large as 10 – 15 inches in size.
The black exterior will be hard and cracked and resemble burned charcoal.
The inside of this mushroom is a rusty orange to yellow brown color.
Chaga is found mostly in cold climates and is a very slow growing fungus.
It can take anywhere from 3 to 10 years for the fungus togrow to a good size for harvesting.
The best formed mushrooms come from trees that are about 40 years old; the picture above shows one of these funguses growing on a birch tree.
Chaga Mushroom Harvesting
When harvesting chaga it should be taken only from living trees and take caution to never cut into the tree or it will die within a few years.
The chaga will not live on a dead tree. In the winter it can be hard to determine if a birch tree is dead or alive, but you should be able to find some winter buds on the living trees.
Be very careful to remove only the chaga mushroom, leave at least 15% of the fungus attached to the tree, this way it will continue to grow and you will be sure the tree has not been harmed.
The best time to harvest Chaga is when the sap is not running in the trees. So late fall and into the winter, when there has been a month of nights at 5 degrees Celsius or less. The trees are dormant at these temperatures and the Chaga is full of nutrients.
When the sap is running the chaga will contain mostly water and have not beneficial use.
The trees that this medicinal fungus grows on are living so we should be careful not to harm them, these trees will produce birch syrup in the spring.
How to prepare Chaga for storage
Break the Chaga into small pieces and place them in a food dehydrator set at 50 Celsius or place them beside your woodstove – not to close, but close enough to get a nice mild heat.
Once these chucks are dried it can be ground into powder for tea or broken into smaller chucks to use. Chaga is not limited to tea. It can be added to your morning smoothie, soups or anything else you wan to add it to.
So what’s the fuss about Chaga?
The dark outer portion of the Chaga mushroom contains high concentrations of Betulin which is a strong antioxidant as well as anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral and more. Betulin is said to help boost the immune system and help our bodies absorb more oxygen to the cells.
The inner part of the Chaga contains beta-glucans which is an ingredient that helps to boost and balance the immune system.
Brew Chaga Tea
That depends on whether you are using dried chaga chunks or dried and powdered.
To Brew Chaga Tea with powdered or ground chaga:
- 1/2 tsp of Ground Chaga
- 1 cup of cold water
Simmer for at least 15 minutes, strain and pour into a pot
Put 1/2 tsp of Ground Chaga into the strainer that is in my tea pot, and add 1 cup of boiling water to the pot. Let steep for 15 minutes.
If you are using chucks of Chaga then it must be brought to a boil and simmered for around 4 hours. Of course the longer the better. I do up a gallon of tea and put it in the fridge, add lemon and have iced tea, or warm it up and add honey for hot tea.
Benefits drinking Chaga Tea
The benefits to drinking Chaga Tea seem to be many, here are some I have found while researching this incredible fungus.
- Immune Booster
- increases oxygen to our cells
- reduce blood sugars
- balance the immune system
- calms the nervous system
- aids with stomach problems
- high anti-oxidant
So next week when I’m out at the cabin, I will be searching my Birch trees for some Chaga take it home, dry it and bring a jar full up to the cabin so I can sit by the wood stove while I enjoy a nice cup of Chaga tea.