Heads up to trendy drinks lovers: there’s a new fall beverage to add to your repertoire along with your matcha tea, golden milk, and charcoal lattes — mushroom tea. This tea, as its name indicates, is an infusion of edible mushrooms or medicinal mushrooms that is gaining popularity for its immune boosting and stress reducing properties.
Want to get on the bandwagon? There are many types of mushrooms you can brew but the main ones you’ll find at most health food shops or online are Chaga, reishi, cordyceps, Lion’s mane, and maitake. Each of these usually come in powdered form that you then add to a pot of boiling water. The result is said to be reminiscent of a mild black tea in flavor while its color closely resembles coffee.
While its unique earthy taste will bring you the comfort you seek from a fall beverage, its immense benefits for all aspects of your health really are its strong selling point. Curious? Well, you’re in luck because we’ve got all the deets for you:
While fungi tea has been around for centuries in Eastern cultures due to its medicinal properties, we’re only starting to discover the whole scope of its benefits. The mushrooms used to brew the tea are considered ‘adaptogens‘ which means that they are stress-response modifiers. In other words, they have the ability to increase an organism’s response to stress by helping it adapt and survive. Another adaptogen you might be more familiar with is turmeric. Like turmeric, mushroom tea is classified as a superfood. In fact, chaga, deemed the ‘King of Medicinal Mushrooms’, ranks first on the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity scale which is a measure tool for the total amount of antioxidants found in food. Consuming mushroom tea, such as this Chaga Mushroom Tea, on the regular has many positive effects on our health due to their high antioxidant activity and adaptogenic nature. Here are a few of the main ones:
Drinking tea made with medicinal mushrooms such as Chaga, reishi, Lion’s Mane, and other similar fungi can help our brain in more ways than one. Not only does it contribute to us maintaining a clear and active mind through old age because of its proven effect on warding off neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s, but mushroom tea also plays a role in our mental health. Lion’s Mane, particularly, has been found to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Research shows that this beneficial effect is likely due to the medicinal mushroom’s ability to increase the production of nerve growth factor, a protein that heals, protect, and stimulates nerve cells. In the case of cognitive decline and protection against neurodegenerative disorders, this nerve growth factor enhancing activity of mushrooms along with their possible ability to raise levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter related to memory and learning, are theorized to be the cause for its positive effects on our brain.
Mushroom tea contains many bioactive compounds that have been shown to play a role in positively altering cellular processes involved with cancer growth. These naturally therapeutic agents, lectin, arginine, ergosterol, and β-glucan, show strong anti-tumor and anti-metastatic activity in liver, breast, prostate, lung cancer, and many other cancers. Medicinal mushrooms used for tea are also a source of polysaccharides which have immunostimulating effects that help our body combat cancer. Certain mushroom compounds have even been found to restore cancer drug sensitivity and are being looked at as a potentially viable cancer treatment.
As mentioned earlier, mushrooms used for tea are adaptogens which means that they help our bodies manage stressors by promoting homeostasis — the natural set point at which our body thrives. This means that drinking mushroom tea regularly can help decrease cortisol (the stress hormone) levels in our blood as well as boost our immune system. Certain triterpenoids compounds commonly found in mushrooms also have anti-androgenic properties — the ability to regulate testosterone production.
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If you’re dealing with symptoms of fatigue either physically or mentally, sipping on mushroom tea can help. Edible and medicinal mushrooms have strong anti-fatigue effects as they act upon our immune system and other functional systems in our bodies to mitigate symptoms of fatigue. Polysaccharides, one type of compounds found in mushrooms, inhibits the production of blood lactic acid and increases the storage of glycogen in our liver and muscles, all of which reduces muscle fatigue. These compounds also have the ability to stabilize our blood glucose levels, contributing to raising our metabolic rate and promoting better nutrient transport which leads to less fatigue.
Our bodies’ ability to fight inflammation is largely dependent on the activity of antioxidants because they combat the negative effects of inflammation causing free-radicals. Medicinal mushrooms are high in polysaccharides which have been shown to be particularly effective at reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines in patients suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases. Also, Chaga mushroom extract has been demonstrated to prevent DNA damage due to free-radicals in white blood cells of sufferers from inflammatory bowel disease. The positive antioxidant activity of medicinal mushrooms plays a part in reducing inflammation in diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer as well.
Considering its wide range of benefits, it’s safe to say that mushroom tea deserves a place in the healthy beverage hall of fame. Will you give it a try this fall? Let us know in the comments!
Want to find more info about the health benefits of mushrooms or other healthy fall beverages? Here are a few articles that might interest you:
- Raise a Glass to These 5 Healthy Beverages That Benefit Brain Health
- Ginger Elixir, Turmeric Lemonade, and More: 15 Health Tonics
- 5 Healthy ‘Shots’ To Alkalize Your Body in the Morning
- The Health Benefits of Chai Spice and Why You Should Drink More
- Tea Time: The Health Reasons Why You Should Pick Up the Habit This Fall
- Warm Foods and Drinks That Benefit Digestion
- Why You Should Try Coconut Kefir, The Wonder Elixir
Also, if you want to find delicious seasonal beverages recipes, we highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 8,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to ten new recipes per day. Check it out!
Lead image source: Chaga Cider