This question is highly contentious within the Chaga world & deserves its own discussion. Since we’ve already covered Chaga’s ecological outlook & what sustainable Chaga harvesting looks like, this blog is solely dedicated to myth-busting the notion that Chaga should only be harvested in winter.
It should be noted that there isn’t any scientific literature to support claims about winter Chaga’s supposed superiority. One would expect that in order for this to become accepted as truth, there would be data to support it, but there is not.
I have over 8 years of experience harvesting Chaga during each season. I have not found any correlational differences in quality. Instead, I’ve identified two basic truths that seem to perpetuate this unproven belief.
When trees go dormant, they reveal what summer hides in the shelter of densely foliaged leaf-bearing trees. Chaga is much easier to find in late fall and winter because the leaves have fallen off the trees.
Chaga harvested in the summer requires immediate post-harvest care (chopping & drying) to prevent biological contaminants (mold, bacteria, rot) from compromising the Chaga. Having worked with a diverse pool of Chaga harvesters throughout my life, I know first hand that the importance of immediately drying fresh Chaga is almost always overlooked.
While it is “better” to harvest Chaga in the winter in the sense that it is easier; easier to find, easier to drag out in a sled vs carry on your back, and easier to slack off after harvesting, two things can be true at once: Chaga harvesting is primarily a Winter-activity, but make no mistake, when harvested by an individual who exercises diligent post-harvest care, Summer Chaga is still good medicine.
*These statements have not been reviewed by the FDA. Birch Boys Chaga products are not intended to fight, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or illness.
This is an informed opinion, but I acknowledge that a simple study is needed to answer this question once and for all. I intend to conduct this research during 2022, and here is what it might look like:
What time of year does Chaga peak in its medicinal attributes?
If we send samples of Chaga harvested at various times of year to accredited 3rd party labs for micronutrient analysis, we will find that each season will witness its own peaks & minimums of valuable micronutrients, rather than a unanimous surge of all valuable healing constituents during winter. We hypothesize that each season of harvested Chaga will offer unique value, which may lead to a more ambiguous conversation about pros and cons of harvesting Chaga in each season.
Season of harvest
Present concentrations of betulin, betulinic acid, polyphenols, melanin, beta glucans, vitamins, minerals, etc.
Approximate age & size of the birch tree, the species of birch tree, average climate conditions (annual precipitation, humidity, soil type & ph, elevation, temperature, and hours of sunlight).