It is fascinating, albeit somewhat amusing, to think about how our ancestors discovered that certain fungi are safe to eat. Take the Chaga mushroom, for instance. It is part of more than 2000 edible mushroom species, but it is rarely eaten raw as it is hard to chew and is very bitter. How they found out that it can be turned into a refreshing cuppa once ground into a fine powder is beyond me.
So, does Chaga tea have caffeine? Unfortunately for coffee lovers, Chaga tea does not contain caffeine, but it can be a great alternative to your cup of Joe as it has natural properties that aid in boosting energy. Let’s dig in.
Introducing The King Of Mushrooms
Chaga mushrooms can be found mostly growing on birch trees and occasionally on ash and alder trees, to name a few. They thrive in the cold climates of Northern Europe, Northern and Eastern Asia, and parts of North America.
At a glance, they look like the burnt part of a tree, which is sometimes called a clinker polypore because of its charcoal-like features. When picked, it reveals a deep golden-brown hue, which is then ground into powder for tea brewing or as a food additive.
It smells surprisingly pleasant – a woody and earthy aroma with a floral tinge infused into it. When brewed into tea, it is mildly bitter and has a pronounced nutty and earthy flavor. Surprisingly, it also has sweet vanilla-like notes that offset the bitterness.
Why Is It Called The King?
Chaga has such a prestigious title because it is jam-packed with potential health benefits. It has been used for thousands of years as a natural remedy, with the earliest documentation dating back 5,300 years ago and gaining recognition in Northern Asia and Northern Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Chaga mushroom becomes bioavailable when exposed to a rise in temperature. This means that when you brew it into a hot cup of tea, the Chaga and most of its nutrients can be absorbed by your body with ease, and you can enjoy all the potential health benefits it can bring!
Provides A Big Boost Of Energy
Chaga tea can be a great alternative to coffee if you need a quick boost in the morning or a pick-me-up in the afternoon. That is because Chaga is considered an adaptogen; these substances help our bodies adjust to stressors, which can include fighting fatigue.
Additionally, it is an ideal pre-workout drink too! A study published by the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine showed that mice that were administered with Chaga mushroom showed longer endurance and slower increase in fatigue levels when doing physical activities.
Mushroom coffee is another beverage that can give you a big boost of energy – since most of these do contain caffeine. Check out our reasons why mushroom coffee is worth trying.
Can Reduce Stress
Chaga may be highly effective in alleviating stress-induced ailments as well. It was found that Chaga tea can bring down cortisol levels and improve cognitive functions. Since it is a caffeine-free adaptogen, Chaga tea can also be enjoyed at night to help you relax and sleep comfortably.
Packed With Antioxidants
As is the case with your typical cup of tea, Chaga tea also contains a high amount of antioxidants that help fight off free radicals and premature aging. The most notable of these antioxidants are triterpene, a compound that can help kill cancer cells. Research suggests that Chaga extracts may also keep cancer cells of the lungs, breast, and prostate, among others, from growing,
Protects You From Cardiovascular Diseases
A study published by the National Library of Medicine also showed that Chaga extract could reduce bad cholesterol levels. This effect can reduce the risk of heart disease. Not only that, Chaga can increase your good cholesterol levels, as well. A more conclusive study needs to be conducted, but the results are promising for Chaga tea lovers!
Brewing Your Own Chaga Tea
Chaga can come in the form of chunks or powder. If you have the time and patience, you should go for the big chunks, as you can potentially brew more cups of tea or ground it to powder for other uses, like making mushroom coffee or sprinkling it into food.
Step 1: Break It Into Pieces
Get around three to four chunks of Chaga. You need to break these first into smaller pieces (the smaller, the better) by using a hammer or a grinder though I won’t recommend the latter as you run the risk of chipping the blade. If you are going to use the hammer, wrap it with a cloth first and find a stable platform where you can pound it.
Step 2: Simmer The Chaga
Fill your pot with around one quart of water. Start simmering the chunks for an hour to a maximum of six hours to extract the flavor profile of the mushroom. Make sure not to boil it, as this will destroy the taste and the healthy compounds in the mushrooms! It is ready to serve once the water emanates a deep syrup-like color.
Step 3: Serve It Or Store It
Remember that Chaga tea can spoil and ferment as it is a fungus. You should serve it immediately after it simmers, or you can store it in an airtight jar for two days in a cold and dark area devoid of sunlight or heat. Alternatively, you can store it for up to two weeks inside your fridge.
If you are not planning on using the chunks for another round of tea or as an ingredient for what you are going to cook for the day, you can throw it out as it might mold once you let it sit out in the open for too long.
The general recommendation for drinking Chaga tea is one to three cups a day. I suggest speaking with a healthcare professional if you are planning to drink more or have any health conditions, as drinking fungi can be quite unpredictable.
Enhancing The Chaga Tea’s Flavor
Chaga tea can be an acquired taste, but you can add some sweeteners to elevate the flavor! For instance, Chaga tea has notes of vanilla, so adding vanilla extract will intensify this note.
You can spice things up by adding cinnamon or nutmeg for that extra zing or ginger if you are more of the herbal type. For something a bit sweeter, adding honey, maple syrup, or chocolate can satisfy that craving.
If you are looking for a thicker texture, oat milk or almond milk complements the woody and earthy flavor of Chaga tea quite well. Adding a squeeze of lemon can also give the cuppa a refreshing twist!
You can try other beverages containing Chaga mushroom if you are still hesitant – or need something with caffeine. Check out our Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee review to learn more.
FAQs On Does Chaga Tea Have Caffeine?
Are there any drawbacks to chaga tea?
Chaga tea can lower your blood sugar which may not be ideal for anyone with diabetes. It can also interfere with the body’s ability to clot blood, so it is best to consult a medical professional if you have a bleeding disorder or are preparing for surgery.