Posted by Cathy S. on August 14, 2015
This time of year I often find myself craving a cold flavored beverage. Rather than reaching for soft-drinks, teas, or juice, I skip the calories and caffeine by drinking mushroom tea. Whether it is plain chaga or reishi tea embellished with mint and lemon balm from my garden I try to keep a batch cold in the fridge all summer long.
Of course you don't need to drink the tea cold. Warm is wonderful as well. My friend Maria Kateri McGuire, LMT- Healing Artist says it best, “Lingering over a warm cup of chaga or reishi tea can help infuse an anxious body with a sense of calm and renewed purpose. It allows you to replenish your vital force and is good for your Chi. Learn to allow the tea to carry you away from preoccupations.”
In Asia and Eastern Europe mushroom teas have been used for centuries as remedies for almost every ailment known to man. Chaga ( Inonotus obliquus) and reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) are a couple of the most widely used and well studied medicinal mushroom teas. Not only may these teas heal but the generations of use have demonstrated that these teas when used in moderation have little or no adverse side effects.
Long recognized for its anti-tumor properties, chaga was made popular to the western world by the Russian Nobel laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn in the publication of his book “ the Cancer Ward” in 1969. Recent studies have shown it can inhibit tumor growth in breast, ovarian, testicular and colon cancers. Other research suggests that it is a strong anti-oxidant, immuno-stimulant, and can be effective at treating viruses. Chaga is also being explored as a possible treatment for a wide variety of diseases including chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, gastritis, ulcers, cardiovascular and liver disease.
Chaga mushroom grows exclusively on birch trees which give the tea a lovely hint of birch Flavor. Chunks of Chaga can be steeped in a crock pot on low for days giving a ready supply of delicious tea. At everything mushrooms we keep our brewing continually, everyone is welcome to come have a leisurely talk while enjoying some Chaga Tea, we run out of cups all the time so bring your own.
Tea can also be prepared from ground chaga short order by steeping in hot water in a french press or tea ball. Chaga can be enjoyed hot or cold, drink plain or enhance the natural flavors with honey or lime.
In China, reishi is known as the the mushroom of immortality, believed to improve mind and memory and retain youth. Recent studies have reported reishi is an anti-inflammatory and can be used to treat a plethora of diseases that have inflammation at their root including osteo-arthritus, gout, rheumatism, allergies, asthma, and cardiovascular disease. Other studies support its use for various conditions including hypertension and hypothyroidism, migraines, cholesterol reduction and regulation of the immune system.
Reishi Tea can be broken into pieces or ground in a coffee grinder steeped in a hot water using a french press or tea ball. The taste of reishi is somewhat bitter, it is made more palatable by steeping with another tea. Many teas work well but my favorites are peppermint or black tea with a little milk and honey.
While not everyone will agree with the healing effects of mushroom teas, most experts will agree that drinking tea to distract you from grabbing a snack or a soft drink will have numerous health benefits including weight loss. Only recently in combination with drugs have any side effects been found with these teas. Constituents of chaga and reishi mushroom extract may magnify the effects of blood thinners. Chaga can also lower blood sugar so it could interact with diabetic medicines like insulin. Ask your doctor about possible reactions with any anticoagulant and anti-diabetic drugs before enjoying these teas.