Tiny flecks of snow are falling down to the ground on this tenth day of November and one way to warm the kitchen is to have a big pot of mushroom tea simmering atop the stove.
The tea I’m making today is comprised of three of the most medicinal mushrooms known.
First up is reishi, Ganoderma tsugae. Reishi has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years and is known as the mushroom of immortality. It has numerous benefits. It’s an immune modulator, regulating and supporting the immune system and it is known for its cancer preventing properties as well. It’s also known to balance hormones and fight allergies.
We’ve found a few spots near our home where it grows and keep a watchful eye on it. Reishi grows on dead or dying trees, like stumps or downed logs. This polypore is pretty easy to distinguish from other mushrooms. We harvest reishi in the summer months and dry for use in teas and tinctures.
Next is turkey tail mushroom, Trametes versicolor. Turkey tail is also an immune modulator, used to stave off infections like the flu. This mushroom contains prebiotics that help the microbiome. It feeds our beneficial bacteria.
Turkey tail mushroom is very common, growing on dead or rotting logs and stumps and can be harvested year round.
Chaga, Inonotus obliquus, is a centuries old remedy used in many different cultures around the world. Some of its proven benefits are the reduction of inflammation and treatment for ulcers and inflammatory bowel syndrome. It also reduces high blood pressure and aids in digestion.
Chaga is a parasitic fungus that grows primarily on yellow birch trees. It should be harvested from living trees. We look for it in the winter months.
The smaller you break/cut up the mushrooms, the greater the surface area will be for the water to decoct out the medicinal properties. Chaga can be ground down to a fine powder but I will use these chunks multiple times.
Place the mushrooms into a pot of water and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce to low and simmer for at least two hours.
Strain out the material and save for another batch.
You can drink this tea hot or cold, plain or mixed with coffee or hot cocoa.