Medicinal Mushroom Tea

Tea made with medicinal mushrooms may be the simplest tea you will ever brew!

I make a long-brewed version every month (or so) and drink from that same pot for about a week, simply refilling the pot with water after each pour. Several years ago, I heard a discussion about brewing medicinal mushroom tea in a crockpot. They said they just kept the crockpot on low, or maybe only on warm, through the winter, adding mushrooms as the liquid became pale. Intriguing.

I use the "simmer" burner on my stove at its lowest flame, which keeps the mushroom decoction just below a simmer through the week. I keep it covered, replacing the water as I pour. An extra bonus is a steady supply of hot tea, which I sometimes also use to steep other favorite short-steep herbs, mug by mug, such as tulsi or calendula. I continue with those same mushroom pieces until the water gets quite pale and then I compost the pieces. Why don't I just keep it going and drink it all winter? Because I don't endorse doing or taking anything everyday, as you know if you've taken my classes.

Here are a few specifics about how I make my mushroom tea. I use a small, 4-cup glass pot with a lid. To this pot I add

- a piece of chaga, about the size of a golf ball, a gift from a friend who purchased it in northern Minnesota from a reliable chaga gatherer.

- a couple slices of reishi mushroom - purchased from Mountain Rose Herbs

- a maiitake mushroom or two - purchased dried at our local food co-op

- about a tablespoon of dried dandelion root, just because. Add any of your favorite roots, too.

- fill with water - I use spring water I pick up from Fredrick-Miller Spring in Eden Prairie.

I put it on the simmer burner as low as it goes in the evening and by morning I have this gorgeous, dark brew. As I'm writing this, I am on day two of the constant brew and it's still very dark. By the end of a week, it will be quite pale and will end up in my compost pile.

Why bother with making and drinking medicinal mushroom tea?

Using mushrooms for their health benefits dates back centuries in many cultures and continues today, evidenced by their exploding popularity. Modern science has confirmed what the ancients knew long ago—that mushrooms can be deep reservoirs of powerful medicines. Certain mushrooms have proven beneficial for the respiratory, nervous, and immune systems and the body in general. Not only anti-inflammatory, immunoregulatory, neuroprotective, and even antiaging, there is also much ongoing research concerning their cancer fighting potential.

Why a long brewed tea?

Because their beneficial beta-glucans and polysaccharides are locked in chitin walls, which are indigestible to humans and require a hot water extraction process to release and make digestible. Most experts agree that eight hours is the minimum time for extracting most of those healthy compounds. However, too high of heat can destroy those same compounds, so keep it below a simmer.

I listened to a Q&A about Omicron with herbalist Christopher Hobbs yesterday. When asked if he had suggestions for herbs to take if/when getting the vaccination, he mentioned reishi and turkey tail specifically due to their amounts of beta-glucans and polysaccharides which prime the immune system to be sensitive to antigens and promote the body to produce a nice, strong reaction with better cell memory and antibody production, which is what we hope for from a vaccination. I appreciated hearing that while I was sipping on my mushroom tea! Dr. Hobbs is also a renowned mycologist and recently published an excellent book, Medicinal Mushrooms, the Essential Guide.

Why do I use reishi, chaga, and shiitake mushrooms?

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) was the first one I started working with years ago since I could easily get slices from Mountain Rose Herbs. It is referred to as “The King Of Immortality”. That sounded interesting to me and worth studying! There has been much research done on reishi, as it has been highly revered and used medicinally for thousands of years. It has been thought to promote longevity and help maintain agility into the later parts of life. It is considered to be a powerful immune builder and protector. And there is some support and much research occurring in regard to its cancer prevention and cancer fighting potential. I hope research can continue and perhaps treatment could include reishi or other medicinal mushrooms in conjunction with conventional cancer treatments, to enhance both the effectiveness of the treatments, the body’s tolerance, and recovery. I could go on and on and on… Do your own research and be amazed!

I have an affection for chaga as it can be found locally, usually growing on older birch trees, and was used by our native peoples. The first known record of chaga use dates back to the 16th century when it was consumed to alleviate upset stomachs, hunger, fatigue, and to increase energy. It has a reputation, right up there with reishi, for cancer, both as a preventative and as a treatment. Chaga can quiet or activate the immune system, whichever is needed, encouraging internal balance. An over-active immune system may lead to allergies, asthma and autoimmune disorders while an under-active immune system may contribute to frequent infections and colds, slow healing wounds, chronically low energy levels and other autoimmune diseases.

I used shiitake simply because it has many of the same benefits as reishi and chaga and was easily purchased at our local Co-op. The major difference with reishi and chaga is that shiitake can also be eaten as food, even in place of meat in some recipes. Reishi and chaga are much too hard to eat as a food and require the long-brewing.

And why dandelion root? The better question is "why not?"! Since it does pretty much everything and anything needed to restore and maintain balance in our body, I just had to add it in.

Enough said - make yourself a long-brew medicinal mushroom tea. You're welcome.