Mushroom Tea: The Complete Guide

​Mushrooms like Chaga have proven health benefits for just about every part of the body, but do you ever find it difficult figuring out how to incorporate them into your daily life? One easy way is to make mushroom tea. Steeping mushrooms in hot water is an excellent way of extracting their valuable compounds and produces a soothing and rejuvenating drink.

Different Types of Mushrooms for Tea

In this post we'll be discussing five mushrooms: Chaga, Reishi, Cordyceps, Lion's Mane, and Maitake. Each has a story all its own, with different geographies and health applications. We'll also be providing a mushroom tea recipe for each of these five mushrooms - so keep reading until end!

Chaga

chaga mushroom tea

The Chaga mushroom, Inonotus obliquus, is taking the West by storm as people learn of its many healthful properties. Chaga grows on the trunks of birch trees, usually in the cold forests of northern Europe and North America, though it's also found in a few other locations, such as at higher elevations in North Carolina.

Chaga has been used in folk medicine in Russia and other parts of eastern Europe and Asia for thousands of years. The people there cut it into small pieces to make Chaga mushroom tea. Chaga tea is mild and the taste benefits from a natural component of Chaga related to vanilla.

Chaga contains chemicals that allow it to survive and grow in such harsh environments. Fortunately, many of these chemicals are also bioactive in humans, promoting positive health effects when they get into our bodies.

One of the most important things Chaga does is boost our immune systems. There are two ways it does this. The first is by increasing our natural production of antibodies, which fight pathogens. The second is by interfering with how bacteria communicate, a process called quorum sensing, making it harder for them to organize and grow after entering the body.

Chaga is an excellent source of antioxidants. Antioxidants defend cellular DNA against free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can lead to a cell's death or mutation. These mutations may eventually result in the growth of cancer cells. Scientific research has shown that the antioxidants in Chaga also slow the progression of existing cancer cells. The damage free radicals do also contributes to heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Free radicals even attack skin cells, causing premature aging.

Another important compound in Chaga is betulinic acid, which can lower LDL cholesterol (the "bad cholesterol") and helps prevent and treat gastrointestinal ailments.

Chaga is primarily used for making tea, but it can be incorporated into other beverages like a chai latte or even a smoothie.

If you want to learn more about Chaga, here's a great video from our friends at FOUR SIGMATIC:

15% off at FOUR SIGMATIC

On all their products when you use the code chagahq at checkout

Reishi

reishi mushroom tea

First utilized by the Chinese more than two thousand years ago, the Reishi mushroom is also called the Lingzhi and is known to science as Ganoderma lucidum. The Reishi prefers warmer forests and is widely distributed, growing on decaying hardwood trees across Asia, Europe, Australia, South America, and the southeastern United States. Reishi mushrooms are well known for their large, vibrant red umbrella caps, though depending on the environment they can also grow like antlers.

Reishi has been used by the Chinese since before the first unified Chinese dynasty. It was consumed to strengthen the heart qi, or life force, and was considered so potent that it was rumored to grant immortality.

While falling short of immortality, Reishi does offer many health benefits. Like the Chaga, it contains antioxidants that can help prevent cancer and reduce metastasis of existing cancer cells. Additionally, the Reishi has specific compounds that lessen the risk of prostate and colorectal cancers. Perhaps its most impressive feature is that the Reishi can double the body's production of "natural killer" cells that fight tumor production as well as viruses.

The Reishi mushroom is also tied to the relief of some allergy symptoms, such as those of hay fever and allergy to cats. In addition to tea, Reishi can be added to a number of other consumables, including coffee, chocolate, and energy drinks.

If you want to learn more about Reishi, here's a great video from our friends at FOUR SIGMATIC:

15% off at FOUR SIGMATIC

On all their products when you use the code chagahq at checkout

Cordyceps

cordyceps mushroom tea

The Cordyceps are a collection of species, the most common of which is Ophiocordyceps sinensis, and they're not your garden variety mushroom.

Cordyceps grow in an unusual way that has gained them the nickname "zombie mushrooms." O. sinensis spores infect caterpillars that live underground in the grassy shrublands of the ten thousand-foot-high Tibetan Plateau. The spores kill the caterpillars and sprout out their heads like stems. Another member of the Cordyceps family, O. militaris, does the same thing to ants.

Cordyceps have been used in Tibetan and Chinese folk medicine for at least six hundred years. Traditionally, these mushrooms were used as a libido and fertility booster. Indeed, O. sinensis has been shown to slightly elevate testosterone and estrogen levels.

Both O. sinensis and O. militaris are excellent sources of antioxidants, demonstrating not only preventative effects on cancer but also opposing the proliferation of cancer cells in cases of melanoma, leukemia, and breast, colorectal, and bladder cancers.

O. sinensis has also been studied for use with patients following kidney transplants, and it was found that the Cordyceps reduced the required dosage of medications needed to keep the body from rejecting the new organ.

Cordyceps are versatile in the kitchen and are popular additions to soups with various proteins like chicken, pork, and fish.

If you want to learn more about Cordyceps, here's a great video from our friends at FOUR SIGMATIC:

15% off at FOUR SIGMATIC

On all their products when you use the code chagahq at checkout

Lion's Mane

lions mane mushroom tea

The Lion's Mane mushroom is so-named because it consists of lush, flowing tendrils. Its striking appearance has led to many other nicknames, including Bearded Tooth, Old Man's Beard, Pom Pom, and Tree Hedgehog. To science, it is known as Hericium erinaceus.

Lion's Mane grows on both living and dead broad-leaf trees in the temperate latitudes of Asia, Europe, and North America. It is rarer than other kinds of mushrooms, to the extent that some countries have placed it on threatened-species lists. Fortunately, Lion's Mane is very receptive to cultivation and can even be grown at home as the video below explains.

Because it is uncommon in the wild, Lion's Mane was traditionally reserved for the royalty and nobility. It was prized for its medicinal qualities in treating digestive ailments, but its most important properties relate to brain health.

Lion's Mane improves cognitive and emotional functions. It was found by Japanese researchers to reduce depression and anxiety symptoms, and at the same time increase concentration.

The brain is made up of neurons, and many of these neurons send vital info along a connected wire-like structure. Lion's Mane contains compounds that protect both. It enhances the body's production of nerve growth factor, which is key to neuron development and survival. It also protects the insulation, myelin, of the neural "wires" (axons). This is important since some of the most vexing diseases, including Alzheimer's, involve the degradation of myelin, negatively impacting nerve function.

Additionally, Lion's Mane has been shown to boost metabolism and lower blood glucose levels.

Lion's Mane can be incorporated into any dish or enjoyed alone. Its savory taste when pan-fried led one blogger to pronounce it "lobster of the woods".

If you want to learn more about Lion's Mane, here's a great video from our friends at FOUR SIGMATIC:

15% off at FOUR SIGMATIC

On all their products when you use the code chagahq at checkout

Maitake

maitake mushroom tea

Last but not least is the Maitake mushroom. Maitake is Japanese for "dancing mushroom," which harkens back to the traditional story of its discovery. According to the tale, a group of Buddhist nuns first found the Maitake while picking flowers and took a chance eating them. They were edible and delicious, and the nuns celebrated with a dance. The scientific name is Grifola frondosa.

Maitake mushrooms grow in the northeastern parts of Japan and the United States. They are often found in clusters around oak trees. The Maitake can grow to a whopping one hundred pounds and has been used for centuries in both Japanese and Chinese cultures for not only culinary but medicinal applications.

Maitake is one of nature's great cancer fighters. Not only does it possess the antioxidants present in other mushrooms that protect against cellular mutations that can become cancer, but it also enhances the immune system's natural weapons against cancer. Specifically, the compound known as D-Fraction causes greater production of natural killer cells like the Reishi mushroom, but also boosts T cells and special white blood cells called macrophages. Macrophages clean up inside the body, wrapping around and digesting various cellular debris, but they also destroy tumors. Because of this D-Fraction has been studied as a complementary supplement to chemotherapy, and has been shown to improve its effectiveness.

Maitake's other health benefits include a general anti-inflammatory effect and similar anti-diabetic properties to Lion's Mane mushrooms by decreasing insulin resistance.

Maitake mushrooms have a delicate texture and go well with lots of different foods. They are as at home on a pizza as in a stew or sauteed by themselves. Here's a blog post with some recipe ideas.

Mushroom Tea Recipes

In this section we'll show you a great recipe for each of the mushrooms discussed above, with a list of the things you'll need and step-by-step directions.

Simple Chaga Mushroom Tea

  • Makes: About 400 milliliters (13.5 ounces)
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

Visit our buying guide to see where to get the best Chaga chunks.

Equipment

  • Blender or coffee grinder
  • Tea kettle
  • Tea infuser
  • Teaspoon
  • Mug

If you don't have any electrical means of grinding, you can use a mortar and pestle. You can also get by without a tea infuser by straining the tea after steeping.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Put about 500 milliliters of water (to allow for some loss as steam) into a traditional or electric kettle and begin heating it.

2. Grind 10 grams of Chaga into powder.

3. Use a teaspoon to transfer one or two scoops of Chaga powder into a tea infuser, depending on how strong you want your tea.

4. Place the filled tea infuser into a mug.

5. When the water has reached a gentle boil, remove from heat and carefully pour the water into the mug.

6. Let the Chaga steep for at least 5 minutes. The longer it steeps, the more beneficial compounds will mix into the tea.

7. Remove the infuser and enjoy!

You can also use this tea as the starting point to a Chaga Tea Latte. Click here for the recipe!

Reishi Peppermint and Honey Tea

Adapted from a MarxFoods recipe.

  • Makes: About 240 milliliters (8 ounces)
  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • About 9 sliced Reishi pieces
  • 8 crushed fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 drops peppermint oil
  • Hot water

Equipment

  • Glass or stainless steel pot
  • Strainer
  • Tablespoon
  • Mug

Because Reishi mushrooms are dry and woody, it's necessary to steep them for longer. To achieve this, we're going to steep the reishi directly in the pot or pan used to heat the water. Also, some people find the Reishi's taste bitter, which is why we're adding some extra flavor. You can swap these for other flavors you enjoy.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Heat the water in a pot on the stove top.

2. When the water reaches a boil, add the Reishi pieces. Let this steep at least 30 minutes.

3. Back down the heat to about 75% and stir in the honey, mint leaves, and peppermint oil.

4. Once the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, strain the liquid into a mug and enjoy!

Cordyceps Ginger Tea

Adapted from a SuperFoodies recipe.

  • Makes: About 400 milliliters (13.5 ounces)
  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 10-15 minutes

Ingredients

Equipment

  • Glass or stainless steel pot
  • Strainer
  • Tablespoon
  • Mug

This recipe will be prepared similarly to the Reishi tea, in a pot or pan right on a cooking surface. These flavors are also meant to subdue any bitterness in the mushroom, though of course they can be substituted or omitted altogether if you wish.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Heat the water in a pot on the stove top.

2. When the water reaches a boil, add the Cordyceps pieces. Let this steep at least 10 minutes.

3. Reduce the heat a little and add the ginger and lemon juice.

4. Stir the mixture and let sit for another 5 minutes.

5. Strain the tea into a mug and enjoy!

This recipe also makes a refreshing iced tea, just refrigerate and serve cold with ice and a slice of lemon.

Lion's Mane Brain Boost Tea

Adapted from a Hybrid Herbs recipe.

  • Makes: About 240 milliliters (8 ounces)
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 10-15 minutes

Ingredients

  • About 3 grams (.11 ounces) Lion's Mane
  • Pea-sized piece of shilajit
  • Hot water

Shilajit is an ancient mixture of minerals that, like Lion's Mane, promotes brain health and cognitive sharpness. You can learn more about it here.

Equipment

  • Blender or coffee grinder
  • Tea kettle
  • Tea infuser
  • Teaspoon
  • Mug

Lion's Mane is also available in powdered form, which saves you the effort of grinding it yourself.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Put about 500 milliliters of water (again to allow for some loss as steam) into a kettle heat it.

2. Grind 3 grams of Lion's Mane into powder.

3. Transfer the Lion's Mane powder into a tea infuser.

4. Place the tea infuser into a mug.

5. When the water has reached a gentle boil, remove from heat and carefully pour into the mug. Add the bit of shilajit.

6. Let it steep for at least 10 minutes and make sure the shilajit is fully dissolved.

7. Remove the infuser and enjoy!

Maitake Green Tea

Adapted from a Food52 recipe.

  • Makes: About 400 milliliters (13.5 ounces)
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 10-15 minutes

Ingredients

The vanilla bean can be replaced with a few drops of vanilla extract.

Equipment

  • Glass or stainless steel pot
  • Strainer
  • Tablespoon
  • Mug

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Bring the water to a gentle boil in a pot or pan.

2. Add in Maitake pieces and let steep for at least 10 minutes.

3. Turn down the heat a bit and add in the vanilla and green tea, and let steep another 5 minutes.

4. Strain the mixture into a mug and enjoy!

We hope you enjoyed reading about these mushrooms and learned about the many ways they can help you achieve better health with just some simple mushroom tea recipes.

Please consider sharing this article and let us know what you think by leaving a comment. We'd love to hear from you.