Making Tea

Now that you found and foraged or bought some mushrooms to make a tea, how do you it? Well there are a million ways to do anything right, over the years I have done a lot of research, watched a bunch of videos and found that recommendations for making teas from medicinal mushrooms varies quite a bit.

To start with let me give some advice on foraging wild mushrooms. Reishi for example molds very quickly, so drying them completely is essential. My chosen method is to place them on their back, cap down, in the sun. This way the mushroom absorbs additional vitamin D. However if time is an issue or cloudy weather, dehydrating works or opening your oven door, placing the mushrooms on the open door and putting your temperature on low is effective.

Reishi Tea: The best research I have found on making Reishi tea is to use 2 tablespoons of dried Reishi pieces per 4 to 5 cups of water. Simply add mushrooms to water and bring to a boil and then turn down so the tea simmers for 2 hours. The tea will be reduced pretty significantly. There you have it. Reishi tea has a strong, bitter taste. Some like this, for those that don’t might I suggest using lemon, ginger, honey or green tea as an additive.

Here’s a few recipes I found: https://purejoyplanet.com/recipes/medicinal-mushroom-tonic-tea/

https://www.cleaneatingmag.com/recipes/reishi-golden-milk-nightcap-recipe

Reishi Elderberry Tea

This wonderful tea is a staple during the Winter months. Most herbs can be found at local natural food stores, or online.

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp Reishi mushroom tea
  • 1 tbsp dried elderberries
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 slice astragalus root (optional)
  • Honey to taste

Add all ingredients in small pot on the stove. Heat on medium-high until the tea reaches a slow, rolling boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 10–20 minutes (the longer it goes, the stronger it gets). Turn off heat and strain. Add honey or sweetener for taste.

Turkey Tail Tea: For Turkey Tail tea the same ratios apply, so 2 tablespoons per 4 to 5 cups. Add mushrooms to water and bring to boil, then lower to a simmer for an hour. Turkey Tail has a strong mushroom flavor so the same additives can be added. Turmeric can be a nice add in as well.

Recipes:

Turkey Tail and Turmeric Tea

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup chopped turkey tail mushroom
  • 5 cups purified water
  • 2.5 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon local honey
  • 1 drop lemon essential oil

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Chop the turkey tail mushroom into small pieces and add to a large pot of water on the stove.
  2. Bring the water to a boil, then simmer for an hour.
  3. Strain the mixture through a colander. Add a ½ teaspoon of fresh ground turmeric and the honey and stir.
  4. Add the lemon essential oil and stir again.
  5. That’s it — time to drink!

If you’d like to add additional flavor, almond milk, one drop of cinnamon, ginger or lemon essential oil, or stevia are good options.

Feel free to add the rest of your turmeric to your leftovers while it’s still warm since it’s easier to blend, and keep any leftovers in the refrigerator. You can then reheat or serve chilled or on ice. —- Dr. Axe

Chaga Tea: Making Chaga tea is a bit different. You could once again use the same measurements of 2 tablespoons to 4-5 cups of water, I make bigger batches to be able to drink for days. So I double the amount, 4 tablespoons per 2 qts of water. Bring water with Chaga added to a high simmer, 150 degrees if you have a thermometer, or small rolling bubbles if you don’t. It’s important to not boil the Chaga for the first two batches, as it lessens the medicinal qualities. On the third batch bring it a hard boil to extract anything left in the Chaga. Chaga chunks or powder can be used three times before discarding! Chaga tastes good by itself and is neutral in flavor, it can be earthy at times. I like to add fresh ginger, turmeric or licorice roots and a touch of honey.

Recipes on the web: https://www.jesselanewellness.com/recipes/chaga-mushroom-tea-recipes/

Chaga Lemonade:

  • 3 cups cold chaga tea
  • 2 fresh squeezed lemons
  • 2 tablespoons honey/maple syrup
  • fresh berries
  • 1 tablespoon lavender
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint

Mix together in a pitcher, chill and serve

The Science of Inonotus Obliquus—Chaga

I certainly can’t say enough about the power of this odd medicinal mushroom. I was diagnosed with arthritis in both my knees several years ago, after having surgeries. they told me I had bone on bone spurs and could feel every bit of that. When I discovered Chaga nine years ago I was hooked and have been drinking it everyday since. I truly believe it has helped tremendously to keep swelling at bay and relieve pain in my knees, not to mention I haven’t gotten sick from the common cold in those years since adding it to my daily routine! I have done endless research over the years on Chaga and found a lot. In the East, especially places like Eastern Eurpoe and China, Chaga has been used in traditional and folk medicine for centuries. It was even discovered in a small pouch carried by an iceman found in the alps in the 90s, believed that he used it for immunity in the harsh climate and as a fire starter. Chaga is found in high elevations, anywhere from 3,500 ft and up and only grows medicinally on birch trees. It is refereed to as the ‘King Of Medicinal Mushrooms’ for great reason.

Icemans belongings

Here’s a list of wonderful benefits:

  • Immune system super booster and regulator
  • Highly Anti-Inflammatory
  • Highest of any food in Anti-Oxidants
  • May reduce the size of cancerous tumors
  • Protects DNA from aging damage
  • Provides natural energy, containing many vitamins including B-complex and vitamin D
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Protects the skin against sun damage
  • Contains high levels of Melanin to enhance skin and eye color
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Contains Zinc, Fiber, Magnesium, Copper, and Iron
  • Those are just some!!

The way Chaga grows is a bit of a mystery. Here is a chart of how it infects a tree:

I study Chaga quite a bit and I am always looking for more explanations and information where ever I can. I found many great articles that explain Chaga from scientific and health points of view. Check them out if your interested in knowing more! Follow the links below…

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3755195/?fbclid=IwAR0kbQR6EFXe2xtEIrSzq3x3qW05VQz57gY5vtVmksZspPQRPJUs7PjJLi0

https://trclips.com/video/g4VFlUCQjyE/chaga-explained-in-depth.html?fbclid=IwAR1t9_8rRNu__9RH4Q-k27yhO16blFyx1U5qELTl-MaOK9eQRkOv6Tfv-Cw

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318527.php?fbclid=IwAR0UPSIf32y7gBPLLfvy4gUTuMzj2bWaWZRhhOdaip3ZoWtv_Me8FqJL-DY

https://www.mykawartha.com/opinion-story/8865116-the-benefits-of-chaga-mushroom/?fbclid=iwar2s4vc_csuconuwi6wkn38t2ey4frqnxqkmbofofdif5bkzxxrascgsscy

https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/chaga-mushroom

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22135889

Reishi- Ganoderma Lucidum-Ling Zhi

Reishi mushroom is considered the queen of medicinal herbs, and is often known as the mushroom of immortality. It’s history is long and extensive, especially in Chinese medicine. Reishi is undoubtedly one of the prettiest mushrooms I have seen. In our region it grows abundantly, mostly on Hemlock and Pine trees. It grows from spring to winter. It’s hard to mistake this mushroom for any other. When young the white and yellow outside bands are edible and can be quite tasty. The whole mushroom is highly medicinal. In a lot of research it is said the stems contain the most concentrated values, but no doubt the whole mushroom is packed with medicinal goodness.

Reishi has been used for centuries in medicine making . One of my favorite facts about it’s history is that monks have consumed it to deepen meditation practices. Reishi has a powerful calming effect on both mind and body. It is regarded as an ‘herb of spiritual potency’. In Chinese folklore it was believed to bring people back from the dead and traditionally was given from a woman to a man to show interest.

Reishi health benefits:

Protects against:

  • inflammation
  • fatigue (including chronic fatigue syndrome)
  • frequent infections (urinary tract, bronchitis, respiratory infections, etc.)
  • liver disease
  • food allergies and asthma
  • digestive problems, stomach ulcers and leaky gut syndrome
  • tumor growth and cancer
  • skin disorders
  • autoimmune disorders
  • diabetes
  • viruses, including the flu, HIV/AIDS or hepatitis
  • heart disease, hypertension, high blood presure and high cholesterol
  • sleep disorders and insomnia
  • anxiety and depression
  • kidney disease

Overall Reishi promotes great health and longevity while reducing the risk of life shortening conditions. There is infinite research published about this powerful mushroom. Reishi feeds the three treasures- Jing, Chi and Shen- mind , body and spirit!

Lions Mane – Hericium Erinaceus

Lions Mane has quickly become of my favorite mushrooms. I find it a beautiful sight, finding one in nature is an exciting event. Loads of research is coming to light on the power of this beauty. It’s taste is similar to crab meat. Lions Mane is mostly found on decaying trees. It has shown wonderful brain enhancing properties, especially in the fight against Alzheimers disease. It is considered a toothed fungus. It is very popular in Chinese and Japanese medicine. Throughout history it was reserved for royalty and it is revered by a sect of Buddhist monks that wear garments known as suzukake, that resemble Lions Mane mushroom.

Health Benefits:

  • Helps relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Speeds up recovery of nervous system injuries
  • Regenerates brain cells
  • Protects against ulcers in digestive tract
  • Reduces heart disease risks
  • Helps manage diabetes symptoms
  • Fights against cancer
  • Improves focus and memory
  • Reduces inflammation and oxidative stress
  • Boosts Immune system
  • Helps heal skin wounds

Lions Mane can resemble a mushroom known as Bears Head Tooth. Also known to have medicinal properties.

Indian Pipe-Monotropa uniflora and Usnea

Indian Pipe, also known as Ghost Pipe is a very interesting wild flower. for many years I believed it to be in the mushroom family. It is for sure one of prettiest little plants out there. They typically grow in large groups. I will say this is a powerful medicine, nervine and sedative and should be used with caution in regards to dosing. It may have toxic compounds. I use it only as needed. Some it’s benefits include:

*Aids against restlessness

*Pain relief (considered a mild opium)

*Helps nervous irritability

Helpful links:

https://www.homeopathyschool.com/the-school/provings/indian-pipe/

Usnea is a very common lichen found all over the forest. It’s also known as Old Mans Beard. There is a Cherokee belief that one should never gather Usnea from the tree but rather from the ground, when it is rightfully offered. Usnea has a range of benefits including:

*Weight loss

*Fever Control

*Pain relief

*Wound healing

*Fights infections and colds

*Fights sore mouth and throat

*Anti-Viral, Anti-Fungal

Helpful Links:

https://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/usnea-herb.html

Both of these herbs can be used as a tea or tincture.

Turkey Tail – Trametes Versicolor

Turkey Tail, also known in Japan as Cloud Mushroom, is a very common yet extra special little mushroom. If you hike any amount in our region or the Northern hemisphere for that matter, you are sure to run across these guys. Another beautiful looking mushroom that comes in all sorts of lovely colors, blues, browns, purples, grays and greens. It is always striped and it’s distinguishing factor is it’s all white bottom. There are several similar look alikes, none are bad or poisonous, they just don’t have the medicinal punch that Turkey Tail does. you can find these on downed branches or rotting trunks, they also will grow on healthy trees. Turkey Tail has been recognized by the FDA (although I don’t put much merit in them) for it’s studies around cancer and chemotherapy. It is widely used by patients to rebuild immune systems weakened by chemo. I believe it is the most over looked mushroom in the forest.

Alittle history of Turkey Tail, it has been used in Japan and many Asian cultures since the 15th century. The oldest discovered mummy, dating back 4,000 years, had Turkey Tail in his medicine kit! It’s believed he used it for it’s antibiotic and natural parasite killing qualities. Turkey Tail is revered in Aztec rituals and the Egyptians gave it pharaohs and kings.

Health benefits:

  • Prevents and treats the common cold and flu
  • Can support chemo patients
  • May combat breast cancer
  • Helps treat HPV
  • Aids digestion
  • May help HIV/AIDS patients
  • Boosts immune system
  • Packed with anti-oxidants
  • May improve insulin resistance
  • combats fatigue
  • good for canine issues

False Turkey Tail:

Maitake-Grifola frondosa Hen Of the Woods, Sheeps Head

This mushroom was coined by the Japanese as the Dancing Mushroom. Maitake is one of my personal favorite edibles for flavor. The health benefits of Hens are numerous:

*Immune system regulator

*Cancer fighter- Reduces cancerous cell production and tumor growth, especially in breast cancer.

*Full of Vitamins B, C and D as well as Anti-Oxidants, Beta D Glucans and Potassium.

*Lowers Cholesterol levels and fights Diabetes

*Helps treat the side effects of Chemo

*Fights against flu and cold viruses

Maitake is a great additive to your medicine cabinet, especially in winter months when boosting your immune system is important in fighting off colds. It also shows great promise in our fight against cancer. Here’s a few helpful links:

https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/maitake-mushroom

https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/maitake

An epic hunt

In one epic hunt I broke a personal record that once was 27 pounds. This forage hauled in 47 pounds of beautiful Chaga! Along with my lovely partner, we had an amazing time hiking and collecting the diamond of the forest. As is the practice always, we used sustainable methods to extract the Chaga, leaving 30% to regrow and not harm the tree.

Theres something about being in an old growth forest that gives off the feeling of being in a place that is unquie and frozen in time. Like being inside a fantasy world. I can feel ancestors that long before collected medicine there. Perhaps for me, it’s the getting a little older that really makes me appreciate the wonder of it all a little more than before. This particular forage I felt myself slow down and notice my surroundings completely, enjoy the spring season happening all around. Sometimes tuning in as a practice really helps your focus and awareness but also allows the connection with the place your in to happen. I especially feel like that is definitely a key to a good mushroom hunt. Sort of like listening for them.

I believe this medicine, like all medicinal plants and mushrooms, is here to help us live healthier lives, to treat and cure diseases and illness, and are a part of the grand design. This world, however it was created, seems to have been structured perfectly, with everything people could need, namely food, medicine and shelter. The forest provides and we have to protect and care for it. The greatest threats seem to come from careless human decisions, such as too much development, once protected lands to be sold, mass natural resource extraction, pollution and on and on. When used wholesomely and ethically, nature regenerates and replenishes a lot of what is used.

Chaga has the ability to regrow when harvested right, over and over until the trees death. Now these trees are already doomed that contain Chaga, as it grows from the center out and is slowly killing the tree, acting like a tumor (which for us, it has been shown to reduce tumors).

I believe in a local economy, where the people that live in a community get what they need from their own surroundings. Tailgate and farmers markets, small businesses owned by families or individuals. Farmers and gardeners, hunters and gatherers. We dont need huge companies that use mass amounts of resources, we need to look to our own neighbors and support them.

Wild crafting such as I and many others do is a sustainable practice that provides for the people around us. It’s the way people used to do things, especially the native culture to our home country. I really feel blessed to have found this passion for foraging, teaching, learning and being connected to the natural world and for the chance to share it with others.

All that said, I’ve been feeling pretty grateful having found so much medicine to be able to bring to people who need it!

3 days on the hunt +1

I did a three day, (well actually four day, had to update this) marathon of Chaga foraging, going to some of my favorite spots in the Blueridge mountains. One of my biggest finds highlighted one day and one piece I’ve been after for months was a huge triumph on another day (took an hour to get that baby out of the tree, at least twenty feet up). Spring has finally broken through the winters long curtain and it is one of the best times of the year to go out exploring. Flowers are blooming, the leaves are growing back in and mushrooms are creeping out slowly from beneath the soil, waking from their slumber. The black bears are emerging once again and the sun is warmer at last. Having traveled some this winter and not getting out as much as I love to has pushed me to go into the wild, like days of old. I once hiked everyday without fail for a whole year straight, almost. That passion never leaves me but sometimes sleeps within…it has been refreshing to get back at it! Foraging 3 of the last 4 days in a row brought my spirit some needed peace, I took a day to rest, soak in a hot tub and sit in a steam room to replenish, and have ramped up my adventuring and it feels so good, although it does ache alittle more as I embrace my forties! As more and more people have come to learn about the healing power of Chaga and other medicinal mushrooms, I have an increased drive to share the gifts of the forest with them. The circle of interest has grown locally and providing healthy, healing, alternative, natural medicine is what I believe to be my calling. We are truly blessed in this region with a very diverse and special environment. Next month will begin the wonderous mushroom season and I cant wait to lead hikes and teach what I know. Stay tuned for more adventures and announcements of what’s going on!

2019 Chaga and News

2019 is off to a big start! In the first two months so far I have collected quite a bit of Chaga and been on several hunts. I also got my products in a local health food store called Roots and Fruits Market, that is hosting a Saturday winter market which I have been involved in as well. The Appalachia Guild of Healing Arts, in downtown Asheville also has a nice display of my products. This is all wonderfully exciting news as I continue on living what I love. I’m getting ready for spring and picking up where I left off last year with more mushroom and plant walks and being involved in more tailgate markets. I have also increased my tincture production and looking to add in some new ones such as Birch Polypore, Pipsissewa, Mullen and Rattlesnake Plantain, to help promote healthy livers, kidneys, lungs, urinary tracts and immune systems. I will be doing presentations along with everything else too. Hope to bring more natural medicine to more people this year, come out and find me in and around Asheville. East Asheville tailgate market will open again in May, and Black Mountain tailgate market also in May.

***My next presentation is happening Sunday, March 10th at 12:30-3pm at Kate’s Garden Refuge (375 Presnell Hollow rd) in Burnsville, NC 28714. Kate will be preforming a singing bowl meditation at the end of the event for 30 minutes, which is truly amazing stuff! The event costs $10-20 sliding scale and the singing bowls is by donation.***