Cozy sweaters, rainy days, Portland is still looking grey. We secretly can’t wait for the first signs of spring, but for now we still have an excuse to curl up on the couch with a favorite book and a hot cup of cocoa. Recently, instead of making traditional cocoa, we've been mixing up a medicinal chaga cacao potion. Rich and warming, with just a touch of sweetness, it will hopefully be your new wintertime treat as well.
For those who are not familiar with the chaga mushroom, a little introduction: Chaga is a medicinal wild mushroom that is known for its incredible healing powers. It's a potential cancer fighter and is also adaptogenic, meaning it has the ability to balance and stabilize the body’s hormonal, nervous and cardiovascular systems. Chaga is also incredibly high in antioxidants and is beneficial for the immune system, has antiviral properties and balances blood sugar.
Chaga grows over the course of many years on birch trees and is found growing in the coldest regions of northern Alaska, Siberia, Canada and Scandinavia. It has been known as the “King of Plants” in China, “Diamond of the Forest” in Japan and is used in the Siberian shamanic healing tradition, calling it the “Gift of God” and the “Mushroom of Immortality”.
The flavor of chaga is woodsy and earthy with hints of vanilla. We combined it here with rich cacao, warming spices and a bit of citrus to create a delicious wintertime drink. Knowing this season can be a time of depleted energy and health, we also added in powders of maca and ashwagandha to encourage strength and vitality.
Chaga Drinking Chocolate
2 Tbsp. raw cacao powder
1 Tbsp. coconut sugar
pinch of sea salt
2 tsp. maca
1 tsp. ashwagandha powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1 Tbsp. dried orange zest or fresh orange zest
vanilla bean, scraped
1/3 cup of chaga chunks
Nut milk, or any other kind of milk (optional)
1. Simmer chaga chunks in 4 cups of water for 2 - 4 hours, adding in orange zest for the last hour.
2. Strain out chaga. Measure out 1 1/2 cups of tea and set the rest aside for later.
3. Replace the 1 1/2 cups of tea on heat. Add in coconut sugar and stir.
4. As soon as the sugar has dissolved, add in the remaining ingredients.
5. Stir until combined.
6. Add in milk, if you're using any.
When everything's done, pour it into your favorite mug and enjoy your drink in a cozy spot. To froth ours, we used a molinillo, a traditional Mexican utensil for stirring hot chocolate. If you're looking for a beautiful molinillo of your own, you can find them at Non-Perishable Goods.
Annabel Middeldorp is a wanderer traveling the world and exploring plant medicine. Originally from the Netherlands, she's making a temporary home in the Pacific Northwest and we're so happy to have her helping at Portland Apothecary!