Thanks to the Internet, an increasing number of people worldwide are turning to alternative health remedies to supplement their diet and exercise regimens. The folk remedies of peoples around the world are now available to all, including the medicinal secrets of Alaska and Siberia, two of the most remote regions of the world. One of the most common medicinal methods in these regions is mushroom teas.
While most Americans see mushrooms as strictly for eating, the Siberian and Alaskan landscapes boast a number of mushrooms that can be made into teas and drunk for health benefits. Here is a guide to Alaskan mushroom teas.
Mushroom Teas of Alaska and Siberia
Perhaps the most famous mushroom tea of the far north is chaga. A hard, tough mushroom that grows on birch trees in old-growth forests, chaga has been famed as a folk remedy among native Alaskans and Siberians for generations. Chaga is best-known for its ability to combat the flu and common cold, but it has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and pro-digestive properties, making it a strong addition to your diet.
Chaga tea is generally prepared using chunks or powder. Chaga chunks can be reused to make additional tea, but some users prefer powdered chaga due to its similarity to ground-up tea and other substances. Ground-up chaga is available from some vendors, and it is also possible to grind chaga yourself with a mill or mortar and pestle. Chaga tea can be enjoyed hot or cold.
Lion’s mane is another medicinal mushroom from Siberia and East Asia that is commonly consumed as a tea. Lion’s mane is noted for its nootropic effects; studies show it can speed up mental functioning and improve memory, making it an increasingly popular way to treat Alzheimer’s. It can also help prevent ulcers, regulate blood sugar, and a number of other beneficial effects.
Unlike chaga, lion’s mane tea is generally prepared using powder because of the way the mushroom is shaped. Lion’s mane is known for its long, thin spikes, which resemble a white beard and is why lion’s mane is nicknamed satyr’s beard or bearded tooth. Because these chunks are too large for brewing in many cases, lion’s mane must be ground-up before tea preparation. A mortar and pestle is preferred for this process, but a hand mill can also work provided the lion’s mane chunks are broken up into smaller pieces before use.
Reishi is another Siberian mushroom that can be made into a tea, though this is not as common. Also known as lingzhi, reishi is known for its ability to combat inflammation through the alteration of inflammation pathways. Reishi can also aid the immune system through stimulating the production of lymphocytes, which reduce anxiety and protect the body against infections.
Similarly to chaga, reishi chunks or reishi powder can be used to make tea. Chunks can be reused to make more than one pot of reishi tea, but powder is more convenient for some users and is also necessary to make other reishi recipes, such as double extraction tinctures. To grind reishi chunks into powder for easier brewing, you can use a mortar and pestle, a hand mill, or electric coffee or meat grinders.
Finally, a less common medicinal tea from the far north is fly agaric tea. The fly agaric mushroom has been consumed by Siberian tribes for centuries as part of religious rituals due to the mushroom’s hallucinogenic effects. Consuming fly agaric can be dangerous due to the mushroom’s toxicity; fly agarics should be parboiled with water draining twice in order to dilute the poison and make them safe to eat.
Fly agaric tea must be made using powder, which can be created by grinding up dry caps in a hand mill or mortar and pestle. In comparison to other mushroom teas, fly agaric tea should be boiled for an hour in order to maximize its effects, though note that boiling it for longer will ruin the mushroom. It is also recommended to add herbs or flavoring because the taste of fly agarics is unpleasant to many people.
Mushroom teas may seem like an unusual beverage to consume, but scientific and anecdotal evidence shows that chaga tea and more have positive effects on human health. From improving memory to aiding digestion to guarding against cancer and aging, mushroom teas carry a bevy of health benefits that make them worth considering if you want to be in the best shape you can.
Keep in mind that everyone’s body is different, and if you have health concerns, you should consult your doctor before adding a particular mushroom to your diet. However, no matter who you are, mushroom teas such as chaga tea have the ability to improve your health and help you live a longer, happier, and more fulfilling life.