Saturday, February 1, 2014

Folk Tea in Flu Season

chaga growing on a birch
A trip into town, a miasma of influenza, served as incentive for this tea, with croupy friends recounting tales of protracted woe. 

I made a batch and then thought, ooh, there are stories in this tea, and it's useful...

One of the tea ingredients, chaga, is a great wart of a medicinal fungus erupting from trunks of birch trees. 

It's revered in Eastern Europe, a vitality/endurance/immunity superfood, good for regular humans and for extraordinary physicalities training for the Olympics.

This excited my imagination in the paper white birch groves in Maine. I watched for chaga when hiking or snowshoe-ing in Acadia. Indeed, I found some on occasion, but often high up, a dark bulbosity, rich in phyto-nutrients. And inaccessible.

It's also woody, and requires hatchet or saw, and grinding or pounding. So I contented myself with buying from herb supply. (A resourceful friend on the island found reachable chaga and is making chaga tincture!)

Elderberry, a country wilding, is an old, old folk remedy: concocted as tea, syrup or wine to maintain health in even dismal winter. Researched in our time, it shows anti-viral properties, a flu remedy. 

In the days of camel caravans, and sailing ships forging routes to the East Indies, the spice trade was hugely profitable, and fought over by raiders, pirates, armies and navies. Wealth and health sought, geopolitics imposed.

(Columbus had thought to reach the Spice Islands of the Dutch East Indies, by sailing West. Instead he made landfall in the Caribbean.)

Why all the fuss, besides lucre and glory? 

Spices of the exotic East preserved food in the days before refrigeration, and offered protection against pandemics and plague. Apothecary magic, the spices are anti-microbial.

Here's the purplish-wine-colored tea, powerful and delicious with or without a dollop of honey. A second simmer still yields lovely tea:

Bring 2 l. water to a boil; reduce heat to simmer; add dried:

Chaga, heaping Tbs
Elderberry, heaping Tbs
Ginger, chunks, not crystallized, Tbs
Cinnamon, pieces, heaping tsp
Cloves, whole, heaping tsp

Slow simmer, covered, till fragrant and deeply-colored; drink hot or cold. Also amazing mixed with fresh apple cider. 

Storyteller's books and YouTubes:


At February 10, 2014 at 10:45 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This deserves a comment. Yum!! We are on our second brewing. Spicy, aromatic, and well worth the wait for internet purchase of ingredients for those of us far from the great markets and shops of the city. Thank you cuz!

At February 11, 2014 at 7:21 AM , Blogger Wayfarer said...

Am so tickled you had the moxie to track down the ingredients! Once in place, the tonic tea is easy to brew, a boost to vitality and wintery health.

At April 19, 2016 at 3:43 AM , Blogger said...

Also check as well.

At April 20, 2016 at 1:16 PM , Blogger Wayfarer said...

Pawan, I generally will not post product/biz links, but this looks very good indeed. Thank you.

Am also adding a bit of chaga to the Thieves Vinegar recipe found at my wellness blog:


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