Homemade potions are one of my favorite gifts to give. Creating something that you intend to give away will manifest positive reactions in the body, serving as an act of nurturance for both yourself and the receiver. It’s hard to feel terrible when you’re aiming to make someone feel amazing.
The elixir on today’s menu is chaga, a hard tree-dwelling mushroom that can be found at high elevations in northern latitudes. It’s truly the low-key savage of the herbal kingdom, having yet to make a mainstream impact, but it’s seemingly endless laundry list of benefits is a testament to it’s understated brilliance. If our immune system was Batman (I’m hoping that you’re imagining a virus infiltrating your body and then your immune system saying “Gotham needs me” in a gravelly voice) chaga would certainly be Robin.
The antioxidant rich mushroom has demonstrated anti-cancer, DNA protective, anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, anti-stress and overall immuno-modulating properties. On top of all of that, it’s surprisingly delicious! It has vanilloids in it (vanilla flavor compounds) that compliment the subtle bitterness that comes from the long-chain polysaccharides.
From the chaga, we will be preparing a tincture. Tinctures are an alcohol extract of an herb (or herbs). Tinctures are a traditional form of medicine that gained popularity during the Victorian era when alcohol was widely available. We can get a fraction of nutrients from herbs out of water (tea, infusion or decoction), but there are alcohol soluble nutrients, like betulinic acid and phytosterols, that need to be extracted via alcohol.
I hope you enjoy creating and sharing these healing medicines! This is truly full-circle medicine.
1 ounce Chaga Chunks
4 cups Water
If you buy the chaga at a store or online the whole mushroom will be broken up into large chunks. Chaga is not like other mushrooms that are pliable– this variety is rock solid. I personally break the chunks up into smaller pieces by throwing them into a high speed blender and grinding them until they are pebble sized pieces. This increases the surface area so that you don’t have to brew the tea for 27 years. I’ve also heard of people running the chaga through a meat grinder… so if you have one of those lying around you know what to do.
*NOTE: Do not try cutting chaga with a knife unless you think that you’d be better off without your fingers.
1 | Put the water and pulsed chaga in a pot and bring it to a low simmer on the stovetop for 15-20 minutes (you can go longer than this, but you’ll want to watch it carefully and add more water to reconstitute).
2 | Strain out the water and reserve the chaga pieces for the tincture-making process. Enjoy the tea that is leftover right away, or store it in the fridge and consume it chilled. If you’re a coffee drinker, you can use the chaga tea to brew the coffee instead of water. The decoction will neutralize the acidity of the coffee!
4 ounces Organic Grape Alcohol or Organic Grain Alcohol
3 | In a glass jar, vigorously shake together the alcohol and the reserved, strained chaga pieces until well combined. Place this sealed glass jar in a dark, cool place for three weeks, shaking the jar everyday to keep the herb well incorporated. Do not open the jar.
4 | After three weeks the tincture is ready to be consumed! Strain out the herb using cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer, and then re-bottle it in a clean glass tincture jar. You can also dilute it up to 50% with spring or filtered water, as well as adding a pinch of maple syrup to sweeten it.
A typical daily serving dose for tinctures is one drop-full.