Down with CHAGA!
Nicole is "Down with Chaga" and loves walking through the Fairbanks woods with her nephews and sister looking at the abundant birch trees. She specifically enjoys spotting the dark areas on the trees, thinking that every dark area is the food-herb and nutriment, Chaga.
Chaga is considered the king of medicinal mushrooms and a super food (classified by the FDA as "food") that has adaptogenic properties (a metabolic regulator that increases an organism's adaptation to environmental factors and ability to resist stress). Used since the 16th century in Russian folk medicine, Chaga (Latin name Inonotus obliquus) has antioxidant, immunostimulant, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic effects. Plainly speaking, Chaga helps to reduce the immune system's workload.
The flavor of Chaga is a slightly bitter and earthy with a birchy tang resembling the taste of plant derived tea versus moldy flavor of an actual fungus. There is no odor. To make tea, take the wild Chaga chunks (that Nicole thoroughly dried and help break up or grind) and soak in warm to hot water (not boiling). Allow the water with the Chaga chunks to simmer to make a dark tea. Strain out any particles. You can consume the tea directly as a warm/hot drink, dilute/cool it for an iced tea, or add it to club soda to create a soda pop. You can sweeten Chaga tea with honey, birch tree syrup, or any other sweetener of choice. Tea can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
It is a common opinion that dried Chaga chunks expire 2 years after being dried, but some experts believe Chaga never expires. Each package comes with specific directions for tea preparation as well as several suggested Chaga containing recipes.