Recipe: Immune-Boosting Mushroom Chai Latte
Yes….I did say mushroom chai latte.
Traditionally chai (which means tea) is a type of Indian tea, made by boiling tea leaves with milk, sugar, and cardamom. It has been greatly embellished over time to include a variety of ingredients, including other warming spices such as cinnamon, star anise, clove and nutmeg. I have seen recipes include such variety as, matcha, turmeric, chocolate and even rose petals. So considering the many variations, I think adding mushrooms to the list of chai ingredients is perfectly okay. Especially when you take into account their many health benefits. The mushroom that makes this chai supportive to the immune system is reishi. I have chosen reishi because it’s fairly easy to find a source, and many people have heard of it. There are many other types of mushrooms (i.e. turkey tail, shitake) that have health benefits too, so don’t feel limited to using only reishi.
Commonly known as Ling Zhi in Chinese, has been known for centuries to have a multitude of health benefits. It has even been called “the King of Mushrooms”. One of its many constituents are water-soluble polysaccharides. This is what makes it a healthy support for the immune system and a general tonic. The polysaccharides have an immune-modulating effect, which means it can give a boost to an under-active immune system (which can allow colds and flu), or calm an overactive immune function (as in autoimmune conditions). I have also included astragalus root in my recipe as an immune building herb to give it some powerful synergy.
If you would like to learn more about reishi, Rosalee de la Foret has an article that is a good place to start.
This recipe does take longer to make than regular chai. The mushroom “tea” extraction takes an hour or two to extract beneficial components, but you can make it ahead and keep in in the refrigerator, then add the spices when you make the chai. You could even extract the tea in your crockpot overnight for a stronger tea.
Here’s a tip for always having ginger on hand: I buy fresh ginger, peel and grate it, then put it in little containers in the freezer. This way I can have it ready for whenever I need it.
I use powdered reishi because the whole mushroom is like a really hard piece of wood. You can still make a tea out of the pieces but you will need to break them up. I just find the powdered so much easier and then I have it ready to add to anything I want. Mountain Rose Herbs is a good source for mushroom powder as well as the astragalus and all other spices in this recipe.
So let’s make it!
Mushroom Chai Latte
- 2 tsp. ground mushroom powder
- 4 or 5 slices astragalus root
- 4 cups pure water
Put these in a stainless steel or enamel pot and bring to just under a boil. Cover and keep hot (not simmering) for 1-2 hours. You can also do this in a crockpot on the warm setting.
Leaving the mushroom and root in the pot, add the following:
- 2 cinnamon sticks broken
- 2 tsp. dried orange peel
- 1/4 tsp. cardamom
- 1/4 tsp. peppercorns
- 3 star anise
- 5 whole cloves
- 1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
- 1/2 vanilla bean split (optional)
Let steep on very low heat for 20 minutes (again, don’t simmer). Remove from heat. If I don’t have a vanilla bean I like to add a tsp. vanilla extract at this point. Strain into teapot and add honey or other sweetener if desired and pour into cup. Stir in milk of your choice or make foamed milk and add a dollop on top (the best!).
This is the most simple way to make foamy milk without a foamer. They say the less fat in your milk the better it will be (2% or non-fat), but I make it with whole milk and it’s fine.
Heat 1/3 to 1/2 c. of milk just enough to get lukewarm. You can do this on the stove or in the microwave. Put warmed milk in a container with a tight lid and shake, shake, shake it. Remove lid and microwave for 20 seconds to set the foam.(If milk loses it’s foam before you want another cup just repeat this, just don’t get the milk hotter than lukewarm to begin with). Then just plop a big spoonful on your chai, and sprinkle nutmeg, cinnamon or chocolate on top.
After trying this recipe you may want to add, increase or omit ingredients to your taste. Your personal taste is what makes this such a good recipe. You will find that enjoying this chai is so cozy and warming you might forget that you are also doing yourself a healthy favor!