The practice of drinking reishi mushroom tea has existed for years, and it's still one of the best ways to reap the benefits of this medicinal mushroom.
The reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum and other species) is a polypore that is cultivated on logs or woodchip beds. Although softer when fresh, it becomes quite hard when dried. This is due to the presence of chitin, a carbohydrate that helps makes up the cell walls of fungi.
How does this affect your mushroom tea? It means that dried reishi is tough, with some of the medicinal molecules locked up in the indigestible chitin. So we're going to need a long hot water extract to get these molecules out, far longer than you would brew a traditional tea.
The benefits of this tea come from water-soluble polysaccharides known as beta-glucans. These molecules are thought to:
Pretty simple. The amounts are up to you. A standard reishi recommendation is 3 - 5 grams a day, although doses up to 15 grams are not uncommon for more serious illnesses.
If you don't have a scale, know that 3 grams is about 1 heaping tablespoon of broken or ground reishi pieces.
The amount of water is your choice as well. It all depends on how many cups of tea you want to drink. I use about 4 - 5 cups of water for every 3 - 5 grams of reishi (you can see how exact I am about this). This will boil down to a fraction of the original amount.
Smaller pieces are better for a hot water extraction. That said, have you ever tried to pulverize Ganoderma lucidum? I once broke a coffee grinder blade trying to break one apart!
Use whatever you have to break them into pieces. If you have an appliance that will grind them, that's great. Otherwise you can try to cut with a heavy blade or break apart pieces with your hands. If this is all too much work you can still use a whole dried mushroom per pot of water.
An easy solution is to buy a pre-sliced bag of dried reishi. This will save you the trouble of having to break them apart.
Bring the water to a boil in a stainless steel or ceramic pot. Don't use aluminum for such a prolonged boiling process.
Add the mushroom pieces. Reduce the heat until the mixture is simmering, not outright boiling. Let it simmer for 2 hours.
Remove from the heat, strain, and set aside. Allow the liquid to cool a little, as it's quite hot. You can repeat the process with the strained pieces until the resulting extraction is no longer bitter or colored.
But it tastes nasty....
What!? You don't like it?
Okay, so it is an acquired taste. There are other things you can add to your mushroom tea that may help:
There are a few more things you should know about reishi mushroom tea:
Note that this mushroom tea recipe also works for other tough medicinal mushrooms such as the true tinder polypore (Fomitopsis officinalis) and the artist's conk (Ganoderma applanatum).