Instant Chaga Mocha -- DIY Adaptogen Tonic

This instant chaga mocha is a less expensive way to get a jolt of trendy mushroom-infused coffees. Spruce it up like your favorite coffee drink and enjoy it for an afternoon fika or mid-morning jolt.

I got spoiled on chaga tea when I was living in Alaska. One summer, I worked at a coffee shop, where unlimited access to the shop's local tea collection was a perk. So I drank a huge cup of chaga tea (with a smidge of honey) everyday. I don't know if it was the 24-hour sunlight or the mega-doses of medicinal mushrooms, but I remember that summer as especially bright.

After leaving the coffee shop and moving back to the lower-48, my access to affordable chaga has starkly declined. When I saw a chaga-coffee blend at my local food coop, I was really excited. The problem? A small box of the premixed drink cost twice what a bag of chaga tea would back in AK.

So, I decided to stretch the remaining chaga I smuggled back from Alaska with instant coffee on my own. If you can get ahold of chaga tea in your neck of the woods (or online: I am using Arctic Chaga, who apparently ship their products), try a do-it-yourself approach too. Blended with cacao nibs, this mocha is a far cry from the Starbucks variety. Instead, the result is an aromatic brew, tasting more like a dark-roasted coffee with subtle chocolate notes.

The cast of characters.

A note about chaga

There have been some grandiose claims made about superfood mushrooms circulating the internet. While there is a good chance that the benefits of chaga have been overblown by some enthusiasts, some studies show that the mushroom provides pretty incredible benefits. For one example, in the article, "Ergosterol peroxide from Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) exhibits anti-cancer activity by down-regulation of the β-catenin pathway in colorectal cancer," Kang, et. al. write:
"For many years, mushrooms have been used in traditional medicine to treat several diseases including many types of cancers. Chaga mushroom (Inonotus Obliquus), commonly known as Chaga, has been used as a folk medicine in Russia and western Siberia for the prophylaxis and treatment of gastric disorders and even cancer (Kim et al., 2006). Chaga is claimed to have multiple natural beneficial properties for human health such as anti-bacterial, anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant based on its bioactive compounds (Nagajyothi et al., 2014). Recent studies have reported that a hot-water extract of I. obliquus inhibits the proliferation of human colorectal cancer cells"
More anecdotally, chaga is considered an "adaptogen," meaning that it may support stress-related ailments and adrenal function. In other words, chaga has the makings of a perfect afternoon pick-me-up, especially blended with the more traditional energy boosters of coffee and cacao.

* Note: I include information that I find from scholarly articles because I have access to academic databases and because I believe the information I find there will be more accurate than Google search results. However, please note that I am not a health professional and have not been trained to interpret scientific studies. 

Instant Chaga Mocha 

Makes about two 12 oz servings 

1/2 tbsp chaga
1 tbsp instant coffee grounds
1 tbsp cacao nibs*

*If you prefer to make a non-mocha version, sub the cocoa with another tablespoon of chaga, or another flavoring herb of choice. Peppermint, crushed cinnamon stick, or cardamom pods all would be a good choice. 

Combine the chaga, instant coffee grounds, and cocoa nibs together in a small jar.

To brew, add 1 tbsp of mixture to a tea strainer (if you don’t have a tea strainer, add the mixture to a coffee filter, then fold and staple to create a tea bag). Steep in just-off-the-boil water for 5 minutes.

To serve, add cream, milk, and/or sweetener as desired.