GET TO THE SOURCE
All our batches are slow cooked and blended with kindness. We feel that Chaga is a gateway mushroom to learn about fungi and the ecosystem. It is a unique and powerful gift from Nature that shouldn't be overharvested. We make sure our suppliers are using the most sustainable techniques and we encourage forest regrowth strategies.
Growing up in the last 20th century, we were drenched in the culture pop. It was the era of high carb, low fat with a diet soda runner up to every sort of artificial flavor possible. Do you remember the SuperSize or the Big Gulp? They kinda knew it wasn't that good for you, but no one really considered how bad. Heck, even articles from the 1960s pointed that out, but industry kept on trucking. The research and the information that has come out in the last 10 years has been less than surprising. This stuff is actually bad for you. Very bad.
Fast forward to 2018, the time for slow food and artisan brands has arrived. The market for big soda is hurting and worried. People are waking up from their sugar slump.
The word Chaga was first mentioned to me years ago by a mushroom grower in New Hampshire. He had heard a rumor it was good for you. Then one day, up in the mountains, we decided to go for it...
(In the Mountains)
ABSOLUTELY nothing. It was early Spring and the ground still frozen. We trekked for 2 hours, then came up to a hill. The walk up was a pain, a sheet of ice disguised under an inch of snow. As we all lost hope, I made a mad dash for the birch stand. I had gone maybe 20 feet before I almost tripped over a perfectly cut "Y" shaped log, like as if someone had cut the top of a tree off. Sure enough in the middle of that birch log was a hacked Chaga. I was too late.
(10 months later and many hours of research)
We make another run at it. This time, we’re not amateurs anymore, we’re novices. With the due diligence out of the way and equipped to the teeth, we find ourselves trudging up a frozen brook. The first guy clears the gap where we see ice water zipping by. The second guy shifts his weight to take the lunge and his back leg smashes through the ice. Damn that’s cold. Up ahead we sit on some rocks by the stream and he changes his socks (novice packing move).
But wait, sometimes when you take a minute, you get end up having to take 2 or 3… Sure enough, right in our vicinity, maybe 25 feet up was a big mama Chaga. There was no way we could climb that tree, it was shear straight length for at least 30’. We had to gaze at it for a few minutes, but it kind of felt like we were the ones being watched.
After we retreated from that foreboding Chaga, we walked directly into the grove. We figured the rabbit tracks had to lead somewhere. Lingering just above eye level, was another one. Like a scab on the tree, we took a small third not to overly expose the sclerotium. Little chips of golden brown and black flakes dusted the base of a heavenly birch, and after showing profuse gratitude and thanks, we picked up and moved on.
For a long time, I used to only make Chaga tea. I’d experiment with different flavors and spices. Then one day it hit me.. This should be a soda.
But of course, I proceeded to mix sugar into my black rich Chaga tea, and once I tried to carbonate it! KABOOOM! Don’t try that at home, kids.
Then I realized how soda syrup is actually done. I tweak the formula until it was perfect. To me it was like the same flavor I drank in the 90s, but richer and straight from the Earth. This was a really healthy soda, a super-food soft drink, and after making it for my friends and family, they were convinced that I needed to take it a step further.
Then I hesitated. Why would I ever want anyone knowing about Chaga? It's such a rare resource. It’s mine! More is More for ME!
(continue to next section)
Can we Sustain? — Can we Protect? — Can we Grow?!
YES WE CAN.
People ask me how can we plant some Chaga? They say to me, “Who grows it?” Well sir, there is only one who can grow it and we can’t figure out her recipe. It takes at least 15 years for a harvestable Chaga to grow in the wild, but who knows how many years it took for the tree to be colonized by the mycelium, Inonotus Obliquus. The Clinker is an ancient body.
Like all complex life, the best way to love it is to let it be, and let it do the thing it was meant to do.. Which is to Chagg along. There needs to be a stronger coalition of harvesters working to protect limited regions and recommended better picking strategies and locations. If we don’t do something, we risk having no Chaga for future generations but regardless, we will lose a lot of the Inonotus Obliquus gene pool.
So yeah dude, that begs the question, can we reproduce this?
There is one simple answer, and it is resounding yes. It is possible. Like all great feats of science, all it needs is MONEY and TIME.
To grow Chaga isn’t simple by any means, it is unbelievably complex and the indoor cultivations are no where as large or dense as their outdoor ancestors. Could it be possible to inoculate live trees with Chaga plugs? Maybe… is it worth to test? Absolutely.
We look to launch a Chaga Re-Inoculation Program in 2019 and would welcome anyone to join and participate (especially if you have birch trees!) — please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Beyond a doubt, human beings have the capability to do amazing things. See the forest for the trees. Get out in the wild for yourself.