You’ve heard of the benefits of green tea, but mushroom tea? Herbalists and Chinese medicine practitioners have prescribed mushroom teas for many years. These teas contain powerful antioxidants and can even slow or prevent cancer growth. You probably won’t sip a cup of mushroom tea as you would English tea. Most mushroom teas have a bitter taste and are taken in small quantities as an extract.
Keep in mind that some mushroom teas have psychedelic properties and can cause erratic or even violent behavior. Always buy mushroom teas from a reputable dealer so you know you’re getting a safe product.
Popular Mushroom Teas:
Reishi Mushroom Tea
The Chinese name for the reishi mushroom, ling chi, means mushroom of immortality. Chinese medicine practitioners have used this mushroom or centuries to improve health and cure disease. Today, modern research has confirmed its benefits. A study published in the March 2006 issue of Experimental Oncology found that reishi mushroom tea contains compounds that can slow or even stop the formation of some cancer cells. The tea is also high in antioxidants that can prevent future cell damage.
The American Pharmaceutical Association’s Guide to Natural Medicines confirms that reishi mushrooms can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, while preventing blood clots, while Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center suggests reishi mushrooms to boost the immune system and improve healing and disease resistance.
Most practitioners recommend taking reishi tea daily for at least two months to see the maximum health benefits. To make this tea, buy reishi mushrooms through a reputable herbalist or health food store. Soak one or two mushrooms in water overnight in a stainless steel or glass container. Do not soak or cook the mushrooms in an aluminum pot. Once the mushroom is softened, cut it into small pieces and cover with water. Cover and boil slowly for 4 to 6 hours. Cool and refrigerate.
Reishi mushrooms can sometimes cause allergic reactions, such as a headache or dry mouth. Take 1 tablespoon daily at first to make sure you’re not allergic to it. Reishi tea has a very bitter taste and is improved with the addition of honey or fruit juice.
You can also buy this in powder form, making the tea easier to prepare. Here’s an organic powder: Red Reishi Mushroom Powder. Use it to make tea, elixir or tonic. You can even add to your favorite recipes.
Chaga Mushroom Tea
The Chaga mushroom is a fungus that grows on birch trees in cold climates. It has been used for centuries by folk health practitioners in Russia and northern Europe to treat a variety of ailments. In recent years, it has gained popularity as a cancer treatment.
Although more research is needed, preliminary studies suggest the tea can slow or prevent the growth of cancer cells, lower blood pressure and boost immunity, according to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. It has also been shown to reduce the side effects of radiation treatment and relieve pain and inflammation.
Chaga mushroom tea can interact negatively with anticoagulant and antidiabetic prescriptions so be sure to talk with your health care provider before taking it.
Some like to buy Chaga Mushroom Chunks to make the tea. These were harvested in Maine and make less mess than loose tea or powder. With chunks, you can reuse the mushroom pieces if allowed to dry in between use. Steep a chunk in hot water, or you can even use a crock pot to make a larger batch of Chaga tea. Each batch can be refrigerated for a few days.
Chaga tea powder and extracts are available through health food stores and herbalists. Place the loose tea in a filter and steep it as you would other teas. Sweeten it with honey if you like.
If you want easy, try ordering Chaga Mushroom Antioxidant Tea. It’s already prepared as a teabag. Some describe the flavor as woodsy, resembling a hint of chocolate.
Another tea that’s made prominent headlines in recent years is kombucha tea. Celebrities and health food enthusiasts alike have touted this tea for its ability to improve digestion and ward off disease, but the tea isn’t really made from mushrooms.
Instead, it’s made from tea and sugar which is fermented with bacteria and yeast. Similar to the process for making sour dough bread, kombucha tea is made with a starter Kombucha live culture, a gelatinous mass known as the “mother.” The starter is added to sugar and tea and allowed to ferment unrefrigerated for up to two weeks. The starter expands and splits into smaller masses of bacteria and yeast that resemble mushrooms. If you’re new to kombucha tea, start with a Kombucha Brewing Kit.
Before you indulge in this interesting beverage, though, you should know the health risks. Several studies have concluded that kombucha tea seems to have no measurable health benefits, despite claims to the contrary. Additionally, toxic compounds can form during the brewing process and some deaths have been reported from drinking contaminated tea. Prominent physician, Dr. Andrew Weil urges anyone with a compromised immune system to avoid this drink, including children, pregnant women, the elderly or people with compromised immune systems.
To learn more about mushroom teas, check these out:
Kombucha Revolution: 75 Recipes for Homemade Brews, Fixers, Elixirs, and Mixers
Reishi’s Benefits from Natural News
A Strange Brew May Be a Good Thing from the New York Times
Mushroom tea murder, an article about the perils of hallucinogenic mushroom tea.
Julie Christensen learned about gardening on her grandfather’s farm and mother’s vegetable garden in southern Idaho. Today, she lives and gardens on the high plains of Colorado. When she’s not digging in the dirt, Julie writes about food, education, parenting and gardening.
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