broken up chaga in a bag, the base flavour for our botanical tonics

Your Top Five Questions About Chaga Answered

Here in Canada, chaga grows wild in our boreal forests and has been used as part of indigenous medicine for centuries, perhaps millennia. Chaga was the first medicinal mushroom we experimented with when we started brewing our botanical tonics, before expanding into cordyceps, lions mane and of course reishi. 

Chaga has many names around the world. In Eastern Europe, it is known as tschaga, the Germans call it the Tschagapilz, in Norwegian it is called the kreftjulce, in Finland tikkatee. Closer to home, Cree healers call it posahkan or wiskakecak omikih.

According to Cree lore, Wisekakecak is a mythological character who threw a scab, which he had mistaken for a piece of dried meat and tried to eat, against a birch tree. To its day, it remains on the tree to benefit humanity.

The Dene of Saskatchewan use the finely crumbled inner fungus for a divination ritual. Two long lines of chaga tinder, representing two related events, are laid out end to end and ignited at opposite sides. Whichever pile burns through first will signify which activity takes place first.

There are a number of questions that turn up time after time, so here are the top five, answered. 

What’s so special about chaga?

As we’ve said above, chaga has been a part of indigenous health care for a very long time – in fact, it’s been used by most people living in the northern hemisphere, from Scandinavia to Siberia all the way to Canada.  In parts of Russia, chaga is considered part of mainstream healthcare. 

Chaga has fantastic antioxidant properties. It carries the highest antioxidant load of any superfood, up to 100 times as much as blueberries. Antioxidants support the immune system and overall wellbeing. When we first starting drinking chaga, we also noticed that our hair and skin felt better after a couple of weeks. 

Think of chaga as your daily holistic body defence. 

Do make sure to talk to a health professional if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or on any kind of regular medication before consuming chaga regularly. 

Where do chaga mushrooms grow?

Here in Canada, chaga grows in our boreal forests, typically on birch trees. Chaga has long been considered parasitic, although the latest research is questioning this. It grows for 10–20 years on a birch tree, hard and woody on the outside, a burnt orange colour on the inside. 

All of the chaga we use in our drinks is sustainably sourced from the pristine wilderness of Canada’s northern forests. Our foragers never take more than can be sustained and tag trees to ensure that future generations can benefit from this amazing mushroom. 

boreal birch forest with chaga mushrooms
In the boreal birch forest

Let’s talk taste. What does chaga taste like?

The best description we have ever heard was this: it tastes like maple syrup would taste like if it wasn’t sweet. Chaga tastes a little bit like coffee, a bit like a stout, but it has notes of natural vanilla in it as well. If you like coffee, chances are that you’ll like chaga. 

In Finland, another country where chaga grows natively, it has long been used as a coffee substitute.

Is there caffeine in chaga?

No, there is no caffeine in chaga and it won’t keep you awake. Chaga is considered an adaptogen which means that it can support your body delivering a healthy and resilient response to stress. We drink chaga at any time of the day or night when we need a natural lift. 

chaga extract and coffee
Chaga contains no caffeine

Will chaga get me high?

No, chaga mushrooms are not psychedelic and are legal in any country in the world. Chaga does not get you high, they are not intoxicating in any way. Chaga is simply a wild mushroom with amazing properties, many of which we are learning about only now. 

Three drinks to enhance your life

The energetic​ one

What's in it?

Sustainably foraged adaptogenic and energizing chaga from Northern Canada, distilled spruce tips and blueberries.  

What does it taste like?

Refreshingly herbaceous, hints of fruit and gently carbonated. If you like coffee spritzers or Italian bitters you’ll love this drink. 

When to drink it?

Anytime you need to energize but don’t want jitters. For brunch, it makes a sensational coffee spritzer, on its own with a dash of lemon it makes for a fantastic alternative to artificial energy drinks. 

The focused one

What's in it?

We brew this tonic with real nootropic focusing lion’s mane, confident juniper berries and and vibrant Canadian sumac. 

What does it taste like?

This is Mike’s favourite, citrus-forward, confidently herbal and resolutely upbeat. If you like a G&T, you’ll be a fan.

When to drink it?

In the days when we could still meet friends in bars, (they will return) this was our go-to after midnight drink, on the rocks or as a mixer. Now we use it to help us keep focused in Zoom meetings. 

The relaxed one

What's in it?

The perfect partner for unwinding and relaxing, brewed with adaptogenic reishi, elderberries and gentle birch. 

What does it taste like?

We call this our summer romance, complex and balanced, with subtle berry flavours. A dry rose on a sunny dock,  with bubbles. 

When to drink it?

From movie nights at home to relaxing on a dock on Lake Muskoka on a hot summer’s day, this gorgeously rose botanical tonic delivers all the chill that only reishi and elderberry can bring to the party. 

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