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Chaga - a delicious find in the winter woods

On a warm day of Dec 2nd in 2023, we learned about 12 species of trees living on our property up in the Catskill region. When the Catskill Forest Association Arborist pointed out an old birch and showed us this huge Chaga, we were in awe. After doing a little self-education, we got a hatchet and removed the conk carefully.



The conk will regrow slowly, taking as long as 20 years to reach its original size, this makes this Chaga so special. We left behind about ⅓ of its total mass, but the rest of it we made sure we processed it correctly. We cleaned it and broke it in smaller pieces after which we dried it with the food dehydrator. We stored it in a cool, dry place and it is now ready to be used.



Used by many cultures around the world for centuries for prevention and cure for many types of diseases, Chaga was dubbed by Shen Nung, the Father of Chinese medicine, as the “King of the Herbs”. In our times, Chaga is well known as being beneficial for lowering cholesterol levels, slowing cancer growth, supporting immune function and reducing blood pressure due to its high content of antioxidants. Its main purported uses and benefits are inflammation, hepatoprotection and immunostimulation.


Chaga mushroom tea is commonly described as having a unique and complex flavor profile. Some people describe the taste as rich and earthy, comparing it to a mix of coffee and black tea. Others say it has a more woodsy, subtle and smoky flavor.

People with bleeding disorder or anyone taking blood thinning medication, should use it with caution. Chaga mushrooms are also high in oxalate, which increases the risk of kidney stones.

Speak to your doctor before using an herbal supplement.


How to make your Chaga tea:

Simmer your water to between 140 F and 160 F, which is under boiling temperature. Boiling water can destroy the antioxidants in Chaga, so should be avoided.

Use approximately 1 cup of water for every 1 inch x 1 inch chunk of Chaga

Simmer for a minimum of 15 minutes, and up to 1 hour. The longer you brew your tea, the stronger it will be. While most teas are an infusion of boiling water, Chaga is a decoction, or a long-simmered infusion. I like to simmer it for at least 30 min or until the water is dark like black tea. When serving it, I personally like to add a bit of honey and almond milk to reach its best deliciousness.

You can store Chaga tea, covered, in the fridge for up to two weeks. However, it is best served within one week.

Placed the used chunk in a closed container and store it in the freezer. You can use Chaga chunk 2-3 more times or until it no longer produces a dark brew.


Feel free to grind it, and so you have the purest Chaga powder.


Here are 3 recipes for a more courageous users:


Chaga Cacao Mocha Lava Smoothie bowl, a favorite of mine post-workout or when I'm wanting something chocolate and rich, but without the added dairy and refined sugars. The ingredients I chose are high quality and really bring all the flavors and textures together.

Feel free to get creative and add various toppings like coconut shreds, gluten-free granola, nuts/seeds, bee pollen, etc.

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 3 frozen bananas

  • splash of almond or coconut milk

  • 2 to 3 Tbsp of raw cacao powder

  • 1 Tbsp instant organic coffee powder (optional)

  • 1 scoop of mocha protein powder flavor

  • 1 tsp of mesquite powder

  • 1 tsp of cinnamon

  • ¼ tsp ginger powder

  • 1 Tbsp chocolate hazelnut butter

  • 1 tsp of ground chaga

  • pinch of celtic sea salt

Directions:

  1. Add everything into your blender and blend till desired ice cream consistency.

  2. Add enough liquid until it blends efficiently. 

  3. Pour into your favorite bowl

  4. Enjoy!


Dark Cacao Hemp Chaga bites. The ground chaga here pairs beautifully with the nutty flavor of hemp seeds and caramel sweetness from the dates. The balance of Chaga, which gives an earthy tone and the slight bitterness from the cacao really bring this recipe up a notch.

Ingredients:

  • 1  to 1.5 cups packed pitted dates (medjool is ideal here)

  • 2 cups pecans

  • 6 Tbsp raw cacao powder 

  • 3  to 4 Tbsp hemp seeds (plus more for rolling at the end of the recipe)

  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

  • 1 tsp ground chaga

  • 3 Tbsp creamy almond butter or sunflower seed butter

  • 1 Tbsp melted coconut oil (not necessary - but lends for some extra goodness!!)

Directions:

  1. First, add dates to a high-speed blender and blend till the dates are pretty blended up.

  2. Once done take the dates out and add in the pecans next. Blend this up till they turn to little pieces.

  3. After that, add in the cacao powder, nut or seed butter of choice, Chaga extract, sea salt, and coconut oil if desired. Blend everything up till it begins to bind together and turn more dough like.

  4. Take the energy bite dough and place in the fridge for roughly 10-20 minutes.

  5. Take out the dough and roll the dough into energy bites or small size energy bars.

Tahini Adaptogen Latte

Adaptogen is something you commonly hear about in today's world and rightly so.

An adaptogen is commonly used in herbal medicine with the emphasis on balancing the physiological processes and encouraging homeostasis within the body and mind. Many of these adaptogens go back to Chinese and Ayurvedic healing traditions.


How to make is:

  • French press of organic coffee

  • A big dollop of tahini

  • 2 soft dates

  • Cinnamon

  • Maca, if it works for your body

  • 1/2 tsp chaga powder 

  • add all ingredients high-speed blender and enjoy!!


My husband and I took great care in harvesting and processing this Chaga.


If you are willing to have a taste of this unique flavor of the Catskill Chaga, hand-foraged and carefully processed, our Chaga offers a taste of the wild.

Each sample pack (6-8 chunks) brews several cups of delicious and potentially health-beneficial tea.

Limited quatities available! DM for details (shipping cost applies). If you enjoy it, feel free to contribute a little extra to help support our foraging adventures!




May The Forest Be With You


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