Growing up in Finland, chaga is the functional mushroom closest to my heart.
Finns have been brewing chaga tea for centuries. In fact, during World War II we were under strict coffee rations, so the whole country switched over to brewed chaga as a replacement. Chaga tea has a very similar taste to coffee, so we barely suffered.
Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) was a key functional mushroom in my path to being mushrooms’ top PR agency. We now use “The King of Mushrooms” in many Four Sigmatic products.
But there are a couple questions I consistently get about chaga. I think it’s time I answered them.
1. What are Chaga mushrooms used for?
Chaga mushrooms have been an important part of Nordic folk medicine and healthcare for hundreds of years. Us Finns used it as a coffee substitute back in WWII when beans weren’t available. The most wonderful feature of chaga is its antioxidant properties. It’s loaded with antioxidant properties to support your immune system and overall wellbeing. (You’ll notice it first with your hair, nails, and skin!).
So consider chaga your daily bodyguard. Add to your coffee, tea or smoothie to support your immune system. It's best sipped daily to keep your guard up.
If you have specific questions about a health condition be sure to talk to your healthcare practitioner (dietitian, doctor, naturopath, or herbalist) for medical advice
2. Where do Chaga mushrooms grow?
Photo credit: @chelseakauai
Chaga grows in colder climates in the Northern hemisphere on birch trees. It is a black-gold mushroom that grows for 10–20 years on a birch tree into a hard, woody mass. It will grow on maple or ash trees, but it’s important to get it from birch trees for the most benefits.
Most chaga mushroom powder you can buy is grown in Scandinavia, Russia, Siberia, Canada, or the United States. You can also find chaga in your local park or forest if you live in a cooler climate.
3. What does Chaga mushroom taste like?
It really does taste like coffee. It’s earthy and slightly bitter, but still smooth. It’s much less bitter than reishi. I’ve heard people say it tastes like a campfire or medium roast coffee.
4. Does Chaga have caffeine?
Chaga does not have caffeine and will not keep you awake. It has adaptogenic properties and can help your body adapt to stress and calm down. It’s good to drink chaga at any time of the day.
Of course, Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee that have chaga will have caffeine in them. So if you’re trying chaga for the first time in a coffee, I recommend drinking that in the morning or early afternoon.
5. Are Chaga mushrooms legal?
Chaga is not on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) list and is legal all around the world. Functional mushrooms have been used over 5,000 years so it is very unlikely that they will ever make the list or become illegal. Chaga is not a psychedelic mushroom.
6. Which Chaga recipes are good?
7. Which Four Sigmatic products have Chaga?
We only use the conk (or sclerotium), of chaga, free from fillers or carriers. This chaga extract is wild-crafted and wild harvested from birch trees in Siberia with sustainable practice, and without harming the host tree. It is both hot water-extracted and alcohol-extracted so you get the most benefits per serving.
You can shop Four Sigmatic chaga products here.
Author: Tero Isokauppila
Tero Isokauppila is the founder of Four Sigmatic. Tero’s roots (or mycelium, if you will) are in Finland, where he grew up growing and foraging natural foods on his 13th generation family's farm. He later earned a degree in Chemistry, Business, and a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition at Cornell University. An expert in all things related to nutrition, health, and wellness. Tero is the author of two best-selling books: Healing Mushrooms, an educational cookbook from Avery Publishing, and Santa Sold Shrooms, a children's book for adults about the magical origins of Santa Claus.