A chaga coffee alternative is basically a bitter-sweet tasting drink made with, you guessed it... the chaga mushroom! Chaga is a medicinal variety that when simmered in water for a period time turns into a dark rich tasting liquid that is full of health enhancing potential.
Most significantly recognized for its high antioxidant content and immune modulating impacts, it is also a potent antimicrobial substance that has been extensively researched for its cancer-inhibiting properties. (*)
For those of you who'd like a less caffeinated, yet energizing, hot morning beverage to start your day, a chaga coffee alternative might be just the thing for you.
Regular consumption of chaga tea or extracts is valued for its adaptogenic qualities that are believed to have a life prolonging influence. Adaptogens can be very useful therapeutic allies for modern-day lifestyles. They help us to build resistance to daily stress, anxiety, fatigue as well as protect against the ongoing effects of environmental pollutants we are all invariably exposed to.
(For more specifics on its benefit visit our chaga mushroom page.)
Chaga has a similar flavor to that of coffee, but also exhibits subtle earthy and vanilla-like undertones due to its birch bark derived myconutrients as well as its vanillic acid content.
"Chaga coffee", according to some sources we have come across, was apparently used in Finland during WWII as a result of food and coffee rationing. (*)
We also include dandelion root into our basic recipe to increase the bitter qualities and simultaneously provide detoxifying attributes beneficial for liver support.
Dandelion root is classified as an "alterative" herb for its ability to purify or "alter" the condition of the blood, helping to activate digestion as well as eliminate metabolic waste and toxins from the body. As a side-effect this can natural stimulate the body and reduce feelings of fatigue.
We use raw dandelion, as opposed to roasted, as it's more medicinal and less acidic but you can use roasted if preferred. Roasted dandelion and chicory root are both commonly used worldwide as herbal coffee substitutes.
You can use either fresh dried mushroom pieces/powder OR chaga powdered extracts. We typically use the dried mushroom when we have more time, but the extracts are perfect if you don't happen to have the dried variety.
One-pound chaga conks or chunks can be purchased online and then ground down in a high-speed blender or coffee grinder. The powders will brew a lot faster than larger pieces, which you can decoct (simmer) for hours at a time and actually reuse.
Our favorite online family owned business selling chaga from Eastern Canada is Pure Chaga.
Extracts are much easier of course to add to hot water or tea. They are also very concentrated and slightly more bitter in taste. For every 3T of ground chaga powder you will only need about 1-2t of powdered extract.
Lost Empire Herbs is our top favorite, offering a very high quality (8:1) powdered extract concentrate sourced from wildcrafted chaga. It dissolves into hot water, turning it a deep brown-black coffee- like color.
These two chaga coffee alternatives each make about a one quart pot.
Add natural sweeteners of choice or nut milk and enjoy in your favorite coffee mug.
It will last up to 5 days or more when store in the fridge. Leaving the ingredients in the liquid will help to preserve it for longer periods.
Add a pinch of cayenne pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, nut milk and/or whipped nut cream for a Mexican hot chocolate.
You may also wish to experiment with other medicinal mushrooms and tonic herbs and add them to this recipe. Some of our favorites also include cordyceps, lions mane, asparagus root, he shou wu, ginseng and codonopsis.
Make a cup of chaga coffee part of your daily morning ritual and/or give your adrenals a break from caffeine consumption. Or, chaga teas or extracts can also be added to coffee for those of you currently under the influence.