Wild Edibles: Tea!

David's picture

Enjoyment and relaxation come to mind when I have a cup of tea. And with all the assorted flavours and blends that can be found at a grocery store, you're sure to find something that suits your fancy. But there are other teas out there that aren't found on a shelf, which have their own distinct flavour, and are equally, as pleasurable. They are commonly referred to as Wild or Bush Tea. And side from being free, they are also highly nutritious. Two bush teas that I enjoy are pine needle and chaga tea. In this particular blog, I'll be talking about chaga tea.

Now chaga tea (nor pine needle tea) is nothing new. From what I've read, they've been making this tea for a very long time. It's only recently that I've learned about chaga, and taken to drinking it. What is it? Well, it's a fungus that grows on dying trees, mostly found on birch, and only in colder climates. It's quite common in my area, and grows to some good size hunks. For making tea, any size chaga will work. Here's how I make it:

After harvesting it from the tree, I set it aside somewhere to dry for maybe a few days. I read it can mold if it stays moist. After drying, I put it to a cheese grater. There are many ways of processing it into tea grounds, but I find the cheese grater works well for me. I would also recommend an OLD cheese grater as the exterior of the dried chaga is quite hard and will probably dull the cutting edge. Speaking of exterior, there are three main layers in chaga. The outside is hard and black. The middle layer is brown and firm. And the inner (center) layer is yellow and spongy. So far, in all the specimens I have found, it was only in the larger ones that have the spongy center. All three layers can be used in a tea, and that's how I make it.

Once I've ground it down, I fill an empty tea bag with the chaga, and tie it off. I then put a pot of water on to simmer. I put the bag in the water and let it steep for a few hours, being sure not to let it boil. Just like any tea, the longer you steep it, the stronger the flavour. And once it's done, you can drink it right away, or put it in the fridge for a cold drink.

What's it taste like? I've read that it's reminiscent of coffee, but I have yet to achieve that flavour. From my experience, if taken hot, it has a woody flavour, and if refrigerated and taken cold, it develops a nice vanilla flavour. Right now I prefer it cold, but I think if I were to steep it longer and make it really dark and bold, it will taste more bitter, like coffee, when taken hot. It tastes just fine as is, but if you prefer it sweet like I do, any sweetener will work. I like mine with pure maple syrup!

Lastly, as I said earlier, it's very good for us. Chaga has lots of medicinal qualities for treating an array of health issues. A quick search on the internet will explain it all.

Here are a few pictures I took of my last batch. Enjoy!


Rick's picture

Pretty brave taking fungus off a dead tree and making tea with it! Looks pretty good though! I'll stick to the store for my tea for the time being though.

By Rick