strictly speaking it's a parasitic fungus that grows on the birch tree... the medicinal qualities of this mushroom have been used in folk medicine since the 16th century (at least).
chaga has antimutagenic qualities and helps rebuild dna. it is one of the most powerful sources of concentrated antioxidants known. (it has more than 100 times(!) more antioxidants than acai, pomegranate or blueberries)
therefore it is used against cancer, diabetes and other illnesses, but can also be enjoyed as a healthy tonic.
the traditional way of preparation in finland is boiling the mushroom for about 2 hours, then letting it drying it and repeating the process.
i wanted to try different ways of preparation. (see picture from left to right) so i made:
- a raw smoothie (in a blender)
- soaked some in warm water (40 degrees)
- brewed some like a tea (boling water)
- boiled some for about 30 minutes
the smoothie was hard to drink since it had many small pieces in it... and the soaked one and the "tea" didn't taste like anything. surprisingly i really liked the boiled one best. it has a slight vanilla-ish aroma and can be enjoyed as a healthy coffee alternative.