For about two months I’ve been experimenting with Chaga. I tried extracts, cooking my own and Four Sigmatic’s Chaga.
What is the Chaga experience?
The first doses of Four Sigmatic’s Chaga were like hitting a crack pipe. I felt energized immediately. It was like taking the Limitless Drug.
Work was being pounded out, I was blogging daily, I even launched my Chaga Experiment.
On around the fourth day the effect wore off and I realized it was likely Placebo. Tim Ferriss told me to like Chaga, so I did.
In those first productive days, I researched Chaga, and it turns out that it might have more than mental benefits: immune support, anti-inflammatory properties, blood sugar regulation, liver and heart health and more. Plus it grows on Birch trees, and as a Russian I genetically adore Birch trees. Even after the placebo stopped, I wanted to see if I felt any better with the stuff.
Having finished my Four Sigmatic batch, I wanted the real deal and bought wild harvested Chaga mushrooms. Time to cook. There are a lot of contradictory cooking methods on the Internet, so here’s what I tried:
Tea – I took three and threw them into a boiling pot of water for about 35 minutes. This tasted delicious, but as I dug deeper into the Chaga Dark Web, it’s probably not an effective method to extract the good stuff* locked in the shrooms.
Next the Internet said that optimal extraction temperature for Chaga is 125° Fahrenheit, cooked for 8+ hours. What’s 125 degrees? It’s nothing, barely warm. Water boils at 212°. According to them, if the chaga is anywhere near boiling, it’s burning. I grabbed my slow cooker, threw some Chaga stones in water and set it to warm. Like and idiot, every 20 minutes I checked the water with a (washed) meat thermometer to make sure that it didn’t go above 125. This went on for 8 hours.
This batch tasted pretty bad, especially served lukewarm from the cooker.
Trying and tweaking, I finally found my favorite method:
Cousin Vova’s Siberian Chaga Recipe
Set a slow cooker to low (approximately 175-185° Fahrenheit max). Use approximately 5 liters of filtered water. Add 4-5 nuggets of Wild Harvested Chaga. Cook for 6-8 hours.
Enjoy it warm in a mug with a tablespoon of natural honey.
Refrigerate remaining Chaga for up to a week. Serve chilled.
This batch tasted great, felt energizing and seemed healthier than the instant versions.
Finally, Extract powder – I purchase Chaga Extract powder and added some to my refillable Keurig Coffee pod, mixed with coffee. Also tried adding the powder to my hot chocolate on a snow day. Both felt satisfying, but likely burned the batches.
I can’t speak to the long term health benefits or definitively say that it made me smarter (read the posts and decide for yourself).
But one unusual thing did happen: three times in the last two months I felt myself getting sick, as coworkers and friends around me were getting sick. All three of those times I drank Chaga with a large dose of Vitamin C, and each time I felt 100% fine by the end of the day. May be a coincidence, but usually the first signs of a Cold mean I’m out for days.
Up next: Experiments with Aniracetam.
*Good Stuff – polysaccharides, antioxidants.