If you’re anything like me, you’ve always wondered what those large, unsightly, bulbous growths on our birch trees are. One day, I actually put two and two together and discovered Chaga, a parasite with a symbiotic relationship with the birch and other trees. It looks like a nasty bug, bird, or animal has destroyed the inner body of the trunk, and is taking over, but that is not the case; it’s a mass of sclerotium (Sclerotia are elemental to the fungi’s life cycle and reproduction, and integral to their use as a food source, and as medicine).
The Health Benefits
Although it’s not much to look at, Chaga is known as the ‘King of Medicinal Mushrooms,’ and is growing in popularity in the West, in the form of Chaga tea, due to its health benefits and appealing taste.
Chaga tea is available in most health food shops, artisanal markets, and you can also find it in some specialty grocery stores. This charcoal-looking, unappealing growth, is amazing! It tastes…ready for it? Earthy, of course! It’s from a tree. Not only is it earthy-tasting, it’s smooth, soft on the tongue, and has a slight sweetness to it.
This unappealing growth tastes surprisingly good
Naturally producing vanillin, a component of the vanilla bean, the chaga mushroom takes on a slight vanilla flavour, when consumed as a tea, and produces a wonderfully strong, powerful sense of well-being.
Chaga’s health benefits are astronomical and include:
Stimulating and regulating the immune system;
Providing nutritional support in the fight against cancer;
Helping to reduce inflammation;
Anti-aging and skin care benefits;
Helping to relax ulcers and soothe gastritis;
Supporting and controlling normal cholesterol levels and blood pressure
Although research is ongoing, studies have revealed that the chaga mushroom provides several health benefits. “Doctors, alternative medicine advocates, and researchers are increasingly interested in the potential health benefits of the chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus),” states Medical News Today. “Some studies on chaga mushrooms have yielded promising results.”
Chaga tea is a great complement to anyone looking to start slow in their healing process. We all recognise that you only have 24 hours in a day to maintain a healthy body. Adding just one cup of Chaga tea to your daily routine could be very beneficial. You can even add it to you morning smoothies, your afternoon salads, and you can get it covered in 90% dark chocolate. Delicious!
Though the chaga mushroom doesn’t look the part, based on studies, its health benefits far outweigh its appearance. So, to drink or not to drink? DRINK!