I'm now home from my wonderful travels... from the warmth of Florida to the ice cold temperatures of Canada. As I write this, it's -19C (-2F) which is on the warmer side of what it has been this past week. In fact, lately it's been too cold to snow. Can you imagine?! I bundle up in a heavy coat, puffy vest, hat, scarf, mitts, wool socks, and boots, to go outside - the works!
On the positive, I've just discovered an abundance of chaga in my area. Actually, turns out it's growing in my back yard! I'd heard about all the health benefits of this medicinal mushroom a while ago, and was super curious to get my hands on some. As fortune would have it, I got to taste some of the chilled tea while in Vermont. I found it to have a maple/vanilla/caramel undertone - yum, I loved it! Chaga is a fungus that grows in cold climates, mostly on birch trees.
I took this pic after it dried out - it almost looks like it's glowing here. The outside is black and looks charred, while the inside (which can be broken apart with your fingers) is golden and "cork-like". This came off the tree with the simple strike of an axe.
The tea is high in antioxidants and is said to:
Boost the immune system, detoxify the liver, help heal cancers, stomach diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, tumors, treat HIV, and is anti-bacterial/anti-fungal... among many other things.
I enjoy the tea hot (especially with a shot of maple syrup to bring out the natural sweet flavours) or chilled, by itself, or with yummy additions, such as the following drinks. As crazy as it sounds in the depth of winter, I have been enjoying these frosty drinks, full of ice.
Chaga Maple Frosty
1 cup chilled chaga tea
1 cup ice
(small cubes, or a few extra large ones)
2 tbs pure maple syrup
2 tbs hemp seeds
1 tbs vanilla water
1 tsp lucuma
Blend all ingredients until creamy and the ice breaks down.
For a Blueberry Chaga Frosty, I added a large handful of frozen wild blueberries to the drink and cut back on the ice.
Today I made a delicious spicy chaga tea by infusing lots of fresh ginger, cinnamon stick, and nutmeg into it. My next project is to make chaga ice cream... will let you know how it turns out.
I'm on the frozen lake here, where I could scrape away just an inch of snow to see the ice - you can barely see the island in the background, it's a bit of a white out.