This could become a deeply philosophical debate.
I’ll save the chatter till after, for those that want to start basking in the glory of the Holy Chaga right away, here you go.
Now let’s argue.
Many people vehemently refrain from bringing any medicinal mushroom to an immediate boil, and for good reason! Certain compounds within the chaga can be destroyed at boiling temperatures. Yet others can only be released after hours of prolonged boiling. So, what to do with that beautiful black and orange mass of mycelium and pre-digested Birch bark…
Give it a nice long bath. Would you want to bathe in boiling hot water?
Almost every source suggests cooking your chaga at a low temperature, about 160 degrees F, anywhere from 2 hours to 2 days. Now that’s a long brew! No one is going to judge you if you’re impatient and start boiling it though. You will certainly still have a delicious brew and be gaining some nutritional benefit, just not as much as you could have.
Ok. So you’ve had it in a crockpot on the “warm” setting for 2 days, and you start drinking it and realize, “Wow! I never knew mushrooms could taste so wholesome and delicious!”
Well it’s not a mushroom, but that’s another argument.
Now what? Strain off the brew and freeze that chaga till you’re ready to make more. That next time, you can boil the heck out of it. No worries. Some would even say a third time, but eventually the water won’t turn black. That’s how you know your chaga is spent.
Some people use chunks, and some people use finer grounds. Does it matter? Yes and no. Chunks seem to provide a deeper energy and a more immediately noticeable effect than the grounds. They are easier to separate from the brew, and also seem to portray the deeper notes of the vanillic acid contained in chaga (that’s right chaga tastes like vanilla). The benefit to grounds are, because of their abundant surface area, it doesn’t take the whole 2 days to concoct a strong wholesome brew.
And now, the enormous orange and black elephant in the room…
What the hell man… So many companies are selling tea bags without a mention of the correct brewing procedures! Most say, if anything, “Pour 8 oz of hot water over teabag and let steep 5 minutes.”
Have you ever tried to drink chaga steeped in hot water for 5 minutes? It tastes like water. Pale brown gross water. Most people encountering this sad excuse for tea, probably suffer through the horribly weak flavor, thinking they are at least doing themselves a healthy service, and the toss the teabag into the compost, or worse… THE TRASH. (side note, plants love chaga tea and used grounds)
I suspect that some companies are voiding this information intentionally to sell more product. I mean, great you’re making money, but that’s a lot of wasted medicine.
Chaga is a dense substance! It need’s to be cooked. The only way a tea bag brewed in this way will provide any nutritional benefit is if it contains a water soluble chaga extract.
So no matter what form you get your chaga in, be sure your tea is actually black, cook it slow the first time, and reuse.