At Birch Boys, we pride ourselves on a few key characteristics about our Chaga.
Sustainable, Adirondack, and Wild Harvested- Chaga has a lot going for it!
Let's examine why these aspects of our practice are so important!
Chaga is abundant in birch forests with harsh, rapidly changing climates. This is why the Adirondacks is such an amazing place to harvest it.
We have a 3-step method to ensure sustainable harvesting practices.
Firstly, we work with local logging companies to purchase Chaga from birch trees already cut down for logging. We literally save the Chaga from being forgotten on the forest floor- practicing the simple concept of reducing waste.
We also practice a unique mode of harvesting that promotes regrowth and does not damage the tree in any way. Harvesters leave behind fifteen percent of the Chaga growth on the tree and it can be expected to regrow. This helps to sustain both the Chaga mushroom and the birch tree itself. There is a lot of controversy as to whether birch trees and Chaga have a parasitic or symbiotic relationship.
Regardless, if you remove all of the Chaga from a birch tree, the tree will perish soon after. By leaving fifteen percent behind our harvesting team has observed that the tree survives as long as it can while being a host for the Chaga. In addition, the conk will regrow to a comparable size within 2-4 years as long as you leave some behind. Both the Chaga and the birch tree benefit from this practice.
Lastly, we tag and GPS mark the trees we find Chaga on during the harvest. This ensures that we won't over harvest from one tree until a certain amount of time has padded. This also allows for us to go back and re-harvest when the time comes, ensuring a sustainable source of Chaga.
To read more about our harvesting practices, check out our Harvesting page.
The Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York
Chaga grows well because of the cold climate- in an area abundant in birch trees with harsh, rapidly changing climates. Birch trees grow in extreme climates like in the Northern United States, Canada and Siberia. Temperatures can get very cold in these places, as low as -94 degrees Fahrenheit. The birch tree needs to be strong and resilient to live through these harsh winters. These trees survive extreme temperatures by producing sterols to buffer the cold. These sterols are powerful components that get absorbed by the Chaga as it grows. Inotodiol, Betulin, and Betulinic acid are among these components, that help give Chaga it's health benefits. Wild Harvested Adirondack Chaga is grown in extreme negative temps... it was -17 degrees Fahrenheit here last night.
Because of the vastly varying temperatures in the Adirondacks, Chaga that grows in this region goes through a lot more 'stress' during the growing cycle than Chaga found elsewhere, particularly from foreign sources. We survive long, harsh winters which transition into moderate, short summers. Although humans may not enjoy this all of the time, the Chaga mushroom thrives.
The more stress put on a birch tree and the Chaga conk growing from it, the more beneficial sterols it will produce to combat that stress. More sterols in the tree equals more sterols absorbed by the Chaga. Research has shown that only Chaga harvested from birch trees going through these harsh conditions contain Betulin, Betulinic Acid, and Melanin.
You may ask, isn't all Chaga wild harvested? The answer is no. Some Chaga is cultivated in a lab, grown on various substrates such as brown rice. Some sources of Chaga may report you are getting the mushroom itself however you are really consuming ground and dried mycelium that has colonized the substrate. This sort of growing method creates Chaga that doesn't contain the sterols mentioned above. Only Chaga that grows in extremely cold, harsh climates and on REAL birch trees contains all of the beneficial components.
Chaga can need as long as five years before it's ready to harvest in some cases, this means the Chaga has gone through five cycles of seasons and absorbed all of those beneficial ingredients. Chaga grown for only a few weeks in a lab doesn't have nearly the healing potential that Wild Chaga has.
Interested in giving Chaga a try? Or perhaps you are a veteran Chaga user.
Harness the power of the Adirondacks. Drink a cup of Birch Boys Adirondack Chaga Tea!