While the mushroom is a popular ingredient in many of our daily meals, and it has historically been linked to improving health, we in the Western world don’t often consider it as something we drink. Well, you might be surprised. In recent years, mushroom tea (or coffee, if you are not a fan) has increasingly risen in popularity in health and wellness circles, and who knows, it might even become a worldwide health trend.
So what is mushroom tea exactly? Well, it is not immediately what you think, it’s not a tea where you throw a few sliced mushrooms you bought at the supermarket into a cup of hot water and let it infuse to make the tea. Rather, mushroom tea is usually a type of tea brewed with powdered mushroom extract, in combination with a green or black tea. The mushrooms come in powdered form because that makes it much easier to find the right variety of mushroom, like Lion’s Mane, Reishi and Chaga, and to make sure that it contains the right nutrients and in a concentrated amount.
So why these three in particular? Reishi is considered to contain the most relaxing properties out of the mushrooms, helping with anxiety and stress, as well as being suitable as a beverage enjoyed before bed. The Chaga mushroom works well because it is said to contain over 47 times the amount of anti-oxidants compared to blueberries, helping with immune system function. Finally, the story goes that Lion’s Mane mushroom tea was the choice of Buddhist monks who drank the beverage for its benefits to cognitive function, and even to your nervous system.
As for the proposed health benefits in general, mushroom tea is said to be high in antioxidants and have a high anti-inflammatory effect. Mushroom tea has also been linked to lowering the risk of cancer, aiding with blood sugar control, improving gut microbiome and more. However, it is important to note that these findings are preliminary at best, and much more research is needed to make any conclusive observations about the health benefits for humans.
Finally, one avenue of research that is of particular interest in modern times is that of the potential psychedelic effects of certain mushrooms. In the past few years, research into psychedelics and its potential benefits in helping with issues like trauma and depression has flourished, and mushrooms are no exception. Mushrooms with psilocybin in them, also known as “shrooms”, have been a staple in psychedelic trips for decades, if not centuries, but in its tea form it might actually be more beneficial, if only for the fact that you wouldn’t have to chew on some dry mushrooms.