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.
1. Chaga is difficult to find in the Summer
When trees go dormant, they reveal what summer hides in the dense foliage of deciduous trees. Chaga is much easier to find in late fall and winter because the leaves have fallen off the trees.
2. In Winter, Chaga is naturally refrigerated (if not entirely frozen) after being harvested.
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).
About The Author
Garrett Kopp is the 25 year old Chaga visionary and founder of Birch Boys, Inc., a company well-known for its assortment of teas, tinctures, and extracts from healing wild fungi. Kopp grew up in the Adirondack Mountains, where he naturally developed a broad passion for the wild northern forests of New York. He began to specialize and narrow this passion toward Chaga after a freak accident where he helped himself to a cup of what appeared to be iced tea in his Grandmother’s refrigerator, who had started harvesting Chaga and brewing it on her own amidst a battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Soon thereafter, Kopp and his grandmother expanded their Chaga harvesting activities to local farmer's markets, where they discovered significant demand for the fungus and its powerful ability to help everyday people.
These entrepreneurial efforts landed Kopp acceptance into Clarkson University’s early entrance program, the Clarkson School, where he studied Engineering & Management and Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Several years and hundreds of research hours later, Kopp returned to his hometown. Having shipped to over 20,0000 individuals throughout all 50 states, Birch Boys has organically grown into a nationally recognized online brand . Kopp is proud to have built a vertically integrated supply chain, sustainably sourcing the fruits of tree-borne fungi from over 220,000 leased acres of leased private land in the Adirondack park, where it is carefully harvested by hand before being dried, processed, and extracted with love, at his fungi factory in none other than Tupper Lake, NY.
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