Chunk chaga mushroom, Inonotus obliquus.
Chaga is a parasitic fungi found on Birch trees in northern forests. The conk like growth, which resembles burnt charcoal, is actually the dense mycelium of the fungus. The chaga we have available is sourced from domestic foragers using sustainable harvesting practices in the US, generally Maine or Minnesota. Recorded use of chaga as a folk medicine dates back to the 16th century. Investigations into the chemical composition of chaga have found it to contain active components for antioxidant, antitumoral, and antiviral activities and for triggering the human immune system.
Dosychev, E. A. and V. N. Bystrova (1973). [Treatment o psoriasis using "Chaga" fungus preparations].
In addition to being incredibly good for you, the tea made from this mushroom is delightful, flavorful, and easy to make!
In a non reactive pot add 2oz of chaga to 8 cups of cold water, allow chaga to hydrate for at least 30 minutes. Heat on low for 30 minutes to several hours, tea can be simmered but never allow it to boil. Remove chaga chunks and store in air tight contain in refrigerator. Chaga chunks can be reused several times to make tea.
Alternatively, you can setup a continual chaga tea brew using a slow cooker. Mix chunks with desired amount of water in slow cooker and set to "keep warm." Using fresh chunks, you will have strong tea within 6-8 hours. Using a slightly hotter "low" setting (silly, we know)... you can cut the brew time down a bit. The more water you start with, the longer it will take to get up to strength. The chunks can be left in the slow cooker with the water, and reheated each day. The longer the chunks sit under heated or warm water, the stronger the brew.
At the mushroom shop, we keep a large, 8-quart slow cooker on the "keep warm" setting all day, topping off the consumed liquid and turning off the heat each evening before we leave. We often add as much as 8-10 new cups of fresh water on a daily basis, Monday through Friday, and we still find our chaga chunks to be producing a flavorful tea after 10 days. The tea becomes weaker, usually after about 2 weeks. Your milage may vary, but you get the picture. The chunks can be used over and over until they are too weak to satisfy. You'll get many quarts of yummy tea from just a few ounces of chaga chunks!