Glass jars each containing a different mushroom tincture with the source mushroom on the table in front of the tictures

The Science of Mushroom Tincture Making Part 1:
Hot Water Extraction

How Many MG of Mushrooms are in Each Tincture?

A popular question being asked lately: "How many milligrams of a given mushroom go into each tincture?

The Short Answer: We use 12500 mg (dried) of any given mushroom per tincture.


This may seem like a straightforward question with a straightforward answer, but we urge you to read the rest of this webpage before making any conclusions about whether or not this is the answer you're looking for.


I would argue that it may not be the best question to ask. At least, not the best first, nor only question to ask. It is certainly an important and relevant question. But it only tells a small piece of a larger puzzle, and many companies will lie when asked this question.


Questions like this are inevitable and present companies with a choice, either provide an answer that may be too complex, potentially frustrating consumers, or simply provide an impressively large number. It is not uncommon for companies to sacrifice ethics in exchange for superior marketing status.


If you find yourself reading this, you are probably a conscious and carefully discerning consumer. Perhaps even a total mushroom nerd! Whichever the case, in this article we will introduce a set of preliminary variables to be optimized for best tincture-making practices. We'll also go over accredited lab data that quantifies certain water soluble constituents in our mushroom tinctures.


Therapeutic fungi is a rapidly developing field with ever increasing consumer interest. Our goal is to answer all of your questions while also bringing forth some big areas of new learning.


The Science of Mushroom Tincture Making
Part 1: Hot Water Extraction


Let’s begin with some general information about the chemistry at play while making a mushroom tincture...

A chemical or compound is considered soluble if it dissolves readily in a given solvent. A chemical is considered insoluble if the opposite is true.

For example:

Table salt and sugar are readily soluble in water.

Silver is insoluble in water under normal conditions.

What type of water is best for hot water extraction?

When it comes to water selection, distilled water or deionized water is best.  

Natural water, spring water and of course, water from your tap all contain minerals and other natural elements. For example, most people have hard water, water that contains a considerable amount of calcium, magnesium and other minerals. Other people will have soft water, either naturally or because they have their water professionally softened. Naturally soft water contains tannins and lower amounts of minerals than soft water. Professionally softened water removes minerals and replaces them with potassium or sodium.

When the space available in water is partially used up by those aforementioned minerals or softeners, it hinders the water’s capacity to take in the fungi compounds from the mushroom being extracted. Put simply, water has a certain amount of ‘space’ to take up compounds, when extracting you want to start with as much ‘space’ as possible.

What is the best alcohol to use for making tinctures?

Certified organic cane alcohol (95% ethanol) is generally preferred as top notch extracting alcohol. Everclear works too, but it is not certified organic. Don’t choose a cheap vodka.

A common misconception about making tinctures that is perpetuated online is the false belief that you can just soak chaga in a mid-strength vodka (something like 80 proof, 40% alcohol) for a few weeks to make a tincture. Their logic is that since it is only ‘half’ alcohol, it can somehow do the water extraction and alcohol extraction simultaneously. This is a remarkably ineffective way to extract anything from Chaga or other medicinal mushrooms. Tinctures are referred to as double extracts for a reason, as they consist of two extractions, separately performed using the purest solvents possible, which are combined at the very end. You cannot use vodka to perform a water and alcohol extraction simultaneously, and if you try, you'll end up with a very light end result with far less healing value. 

Beneficial Mushroom Compounds - Water Soluble and Ethanol Soluble

Here is a table that shows the compounds we’re after in our mushroom tinctures. The goal in making an effective tincture is to “pull,” or extract, the medicinal compounds out of the plant or mushroom being extracted before straining away the cellular junk / chitinous cell walls and discarding them.


Water-Soluble Mushroom Compounds Ethanol-Soluble Mushroom Compounds

Polysaccharides (including beta glucans)


  • Vitamins and minerals


  • Polyphenols



Note that this table is an extreme oversimplification of the solubility of these classes of mushroom compounds. Technically speaking, it is not so black and white, and there are metrics that govern the use of verbiage surrounding solubility in a piece of academic literature:

  • Insoluble - less than 1 gram dissolves in a liter
  • Slightly soluble - 1-10 grams dissolves in a liter
  • Sparingly soluble - 10-30 grams dissolves in a liter
  • Soluble - more than 30 grams dissolves in a liter

Hot Water Extraction - Basic Process


Let’s focus on the hot water extract... This is the meat and potatoes of your tincture. Performing a hot water extraction is pretty straightforward - you brew it. Ideally, you’ll simmer the mushrooms for several days straight, stirring regularly, in distilled water.

Here at Birch Boys, we have various tincture machines equipped with water circulation pumps and temperature controllers, which help when making tinctures in large or commercial volumes. We set the temperature to 178 degrees Fahrenheit and allow the ground mushrooms to steep for a minimum of 72 hours, with steady circulation of the water.

Other Questions Worth Asking to Ensure Mushroom Tincture-Making Best Practices



It's important to understand that simply using a greater weight of mushrooms per tincture will only make the tincture better if, and only if, all other variables are optimized. In other words, if you aren't a competent tincture maker, you can use as great a weight of dry matter as you desire, but your tinctures will still be weak when scrutinized by accredited 3rd party labs. Here is a list of non-obvious questions worth also asking, or at least thinking about, to determine or compare quality:

The best types of water for extracting are distilled water, deonized water, and/or reverse osmosis filtered water.

Here at Birch Boys, we use distilled water in water portion of our tinctures.

To boil or not to boil is an age-old debate in the tincture making process. Plant-focused herbalists may emphasize gentle heat for making tinctures, and this is because there are valuable vitamins and minerals present in most herbs that begin to degrade as you approach boiling point temperatures.

The importance of mitigating the degradation of heat-sensitive compounds does not apply as much in the world of mushroom tincture-making as it does to plants and herbs. We’re not so concerned about degrading some basic vitamins and minerals along the way, because we’re trying to break down the chitinous cell walls of fungi, which are much tougher than those of plant cellulose. High heat is a good thing when extracting the polyphenols, beta glucans, and polysaccharides of interest in healing mushrooms. 

At Birch Boys, we extract the hot-water portion of our tinctures at 178F for 72 hours.

There many ways to increase the rate at which soluble compounds will dissolve (like using ground mushrooms rather than whole - increasing the surface area) but there simply is no substitute for time.

We brew for 72 hours, or 3 full days, as a minimum duration when brewing our hot water extracts.

In other words, does the tincture-maker squeeze the saturated mushrooms (after brewing) in a press to collect the small but important volume of remaining water from their extract?

An experienced tincture-maker would be aware that this hard-fought last cup (or so) of the liquid extract is much more dense in soluble compounds. Relative to its negligible volumetric contribution to the batch, this final squeeze packs a potent punch in terms of its soluble contributions to the final tinctures.

We press our mushrooms here at Birch Boys.

Then we of course must consider everything that contributes to the quality of the mushroom fruiting body, or specimen, itself. Even if we assume the tincture-maker is competent, One should still ask, does the raw material itself possess the medicine they aim to extract from it?

  • If cultivated, what substrate was used?
  • Was it subjected to pesticides?
  • Is it certified organic / is this audited?

At Birch Boys we sustainably wild-harvest our Chaga, Reishi, Turkey Tail, and Artist's Conk. We source our Lion's Mane and Maitake from USDA organic certified growers in Minnesota who grow on hardwood.

  • Was it ever fully dried at all? If not, it will be heavier and falsely inflate the weight of the mushrooms used per tincture.
  • Did it develop mold or bacteria due to poor drying protocols? Did this alter the soluble components from the very start?

At Birch Boys, we promptly dry our specimens in our custom built drying chamber.

Is it cut with myceliated grain and/or filler material?

There is always a greater risk of fraud when a product originates internationally, because the FDA does not have unanimous jurisdiction to scrutinize companies abroad. As a US consumer, I would never trust a certificate of analysis unless it was performed in a US based, ISO accredited laboratory.

If you doubt that companies would go as far as to fabricate fake mushrooms, read some scholarly articles on the authenticity of Chinese supplied ginseng products. This is straight from the playbook. The western world’s cultural ignorance of mushrooms has created an advantageous new frontier for malicious international suppliers. Chinese suppliers, aligned with the CCP, take advantage of the lack in international oversight as well as cost-driven purchasing decisions of their US customer base, including well known brands, who may be dually unaware that both the raw materials they are sourcing - and the products they are selling, are fake.

Birch Boys sources the vast majority of our fungi from our 200,000 acres of leased forest land in the Adirondack Park of New York State. We also sustainably source some of our shrooms from USDA organic certified growers in the US.

At Birch Boys, we are almost entirely vertically integrated - meaning that we source our raw materials and manufacture our products internally. When a company is not able to control all of these variables due to the need for various suppliers and co packers, or when a company is horizontally integrated, as are most of our competitors, quality is inevitably lost and/or obscured at each stage.


The sad thing is that when you ask a company for answers to some of these questions about their own branded products, more often than not, they don't actually know the answer, or are relying on an answer given to them by some other party.


To some extent, the best decisions we can make as consumers are informed leaps of faith. Rely on your gut instincts as well as doing your own learning. A few questions to ponder on this note - Do you trust the figure of mushroom weight that was put on the label by a huge corporatized company? Have you called and spoken with an educated staff member? Are the methods transparent?


Is there really any informed oversight? It's up to each of us as customers.


And it's up to us - the companies - to build trust through transparency, as I aim to with this.



Logic Behind Our Formulations

Chaga’s yield of water soluble constituents is about 20%.

In other words, if you were to take 100 grams of ground chaga, then brew it in distilled water for 72 hours at 188 degrees fahrenheit, then carefully strain away the solid waste (spent chaga) from your now-black solution, then dry/evaporate all of the water away, you would yield about 20 grams of readily soluble shiny black powder. Or as we like to call it, ChagaNOW!

If you were to use 200 grams of chaga, you’d get about 40 grams ChagaNOW. You’d get close to 20% nearly every time. Each mushroom has its own relatively consistent yield of mushroom to mushroom-extract-powder in this way. Later I will list them each, but before that-

What is it that we are actually yielding? What the heck are these 20 grams? Vitamins? Minerals? Polysaccharides? Melanins? Sugars? Seriously, what is this chaga extract powder?

Until recently, all that we were able to conclude is that we had yielded 20g of soluble constituents from wild Chaga. Whatever compounds they may be has never been perfectly clears, but what has remained clear, from repeating this process over and over, is that from batch to batch and from one piece of chaga to the next, the composition of the 20 grams is always more or less the same. It produces a consistent yield with similar physical traits, properties, and chracteristics.

This was a revelation for me - Mushroom extract powders, if made correctly, are in and of themselves, a relatively consistent medium representing the entire spectrum of water soluble constituents - in their maximum natural concentrations. Mushroom extract powders are something we can now make in-house, and they are the closest thing we have to a perfect standard to be properly analyzed in a lab. Mushroom extract powders are in fact brilliant.

Sadly, so is the iron grip that Chinese suppliers have on the entire mushroom extract industry. They have a tight grip on basically every industry. It feels like a bit of a contradiction to call extract powders brilliant when the majority of mushroom extract powders I see for sale are blatant frauds, fakes, or at best, gimmicky products that are cut with heavy amounts of filler material. Do not confuse what I call an extract powder with cheap Chinese garbage.

When you possess a genuine quality mushroom extract powder, you possess a perfectly concentrated hot water extract. It's just that the water has been evaporated away, so it is as potent and pure as it can possibly be. This powder was used as a key reference material to develop the optimal hot water extract formulation of our tinctures.

Through a culmination of hard work, 3rd party lab research and development expenditures, and internal experiments, we were able to analyze the presence of certain types of compounds contained in samples of our concentrated hot water extracts (aka - extract powders) from various mushrooms, and this data allowed us to work backward and formulate a mushroom weight to water ratio that is deliberate, for our tincture potency and serving sizes.

Here are the results of this work, and the yields of water soluble constituents for each mushroom.

Hot Water Extraction, Soluble Yields & their Makeup by Mushroom Species

Input (Mushroom and Weight) Output (Weight of soluble Yield) Makeup of Yielded Constituents

1 kg Chaga

200g soluble material

  • 3g are beta glucans - (1,3)(1,6) β-glucan
  • 9g are other unspecified polysaccharides
  • 29g are phenolic compounds (polyphenols).
  • 158g soluble material remains unidentified

1 kg Reishi

180g soluble material

  • 7g are beta glucans - (1,3)(1,6) β-glucan
  • 22g are other unspecified polysaccharides
  • 11g are phenolic compounds (polyphenols).
  • 140g soluble material remains unidentified

1 kg Lion's Mane

300g sluble material

  • 18 are beta glucan - (1,3)(1,6) β-glucan
  • 20g are other unspecified polyschharides
  • 4g are phenolic compounds (polyphenols).
  • 258g soluble material remains unidentified

1 kg Turkey Tail

180g soluble material

  • 67g are beta glucan - (1,3)(1,6) β-glucan
  • 33g are other unspecifed polysaccharides
  • 9g are phenolic compounds (polyphenols)
  • 141g soluble material remains unidentified

1 kg Maitake

250g soluble material

  • 95g are beta glucan - (1,3)(1,6) β-glucan
  • 31g are other unspecified polysaccharides
  • 124g soluble material remains unidentified

1 kg Artist Conk

200g soluble material

  • 40g are beta glucan - (1,3)(1,6) β-glucan
  • 44g are other unspecified polysaccharides
  • 112g soluble material remains unidentified

Constituent Analysis of Hot Water Extract Powders from Various Mushrooms

Mushroom Extract Powder Beta Glucan - (1,3)(1,6) β-glucan Other Polysaccharides Polyphenols Unknown

Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)





Reishi (Ganoderma tsugae)





Lion's Mane (Hericium erinaceus)





Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor)





Maitake (Grifola frondosa)





Artist Conk (Ganoderma applanatum)





Click the tabs to view the analyses of Birch Boys mushroom tinctures

Birch Boys Chaga Tincture Supplement Facts
Birch Boys Lion's Mane Tincture Supplement Facts
Birch Boys Turkey Tail Supplement Facts
Birch Boys Maitake Supplement Facts
Birch Boys Artist's Conk Supplement Facts
Birch Boys Reishi Tincture Supplement Facts

Tincture Making Process and Batch Size for Hot Water Extract, Summarized

We decided to stick with a standard mushroom to water ratio for all tincture batches, or the same ratio for every mushroom species, for the sake of a smooth and consistent workflow. We looked at the combined data from all mushroom species tested in order to choose a generally efficacious serving of the compounds we are able to quantify in our tinctures.

Specifically, that means one batch of tincture = 2 kilograms of mushrooms, brewed for 3 days, in distilled water, concentrated down to 5 gallons upon straining away the mushrooms used. These 5 gallons serve as the hot water portion of 160 4oz tincture bottles, or 4800 total servings.

Each 4oz tincture bottle is derived from 12,500mg of the mushroom species indicated, and will predictably contain the soluble constituents from approximately 417mg of that mushroom in every 4ml serving.

It would be naive to say that a tincture contains 12,500mg of the mushroom used to make it. The tincture contains only the soluble compounds derived from the 12,500mg of the mushroom used to make it.

View the full PDF of our Certificates of Analyses from Medallion Labs by clicking the button below.


Two Observations / Extremely Interesting Takeaways

1. Turkey Tail is mostly polysaccharides

We now know, or at least have data to suggest, that the hot water extraction of Turkey Tail is primarily made up of polysaccharides (56%). (If the math is unclear, note that beta glucans are indeed a form of polysaccharides). Given rigorous Japanese clinical data that has already been established on Polysaccharide Krestin (PSK) and Polysaccharide Peptide (PSP) derived from Turkey Tail mushrooms (used in cancer treatments) there may be a serious opportunity to look at this more closely and yield profound knowledge for self-healing. Further work here could seriously advance the naturopathic 'good fight' because there is likely a way to determine how many of these polysaccharides are PSK and/or PSP. That information would be very useful for anyone battling cancer or in the midst of life-enduring adjuvant therapy.

2. Our best sellers are what we know the least about

How ironic is that our top selling tinctures are Chaga and Lion's Mane?

We now have data to suggest that our best selling two mushroom extracts, Chaga and Lion's Mane, are the very two that contain the largest amount of unidentified water soluble constituents. 80% of the water soluble components of Chaga and 86% of the water soluble components of Lion's mane remain a mystery to us.

This is interesting. If you really think about it, maybe it's not so ironic after all...


Beyond the Beta Glucans...


There are some studies on beta glucan dosage, but beta glucans are just a category of compounds (a subcategory of polysaccharides), so it is not easy to tell which tincture is best based on unspecified beta glucan content alone. After all, certain beta glucans perform certain functions, and from the studies we've looked at, humans would ideally strive to consume several hundred milligrams of beta glucan per day to experience any of the noteworthy positive benefits they are associated with.

This is not to say that there aren't enough beta glucans in our tinctures to be helpful, but honestly, we cannot guarantee what these beta glucans are doing, nor whether or not any serving size of beta glucan is enough to perform a specific function or elicit specific benefits.

The one thing we've confirmed in this analysis is that there is so much we don't know.

This underscores a few points I’d like to make as they pertain to Birch Boys tinctures. You can use more than the suggested serving size on the bottle. We suggest not doing so with Chaga, but we encourage you to responsibly experiment with dosage on the other mushrooms. After all, this is the way that tinctures were discovered and used, by our ancestors, countless years ago.

If you don’t feel any positive effects (nor negative effects), feel free to try using more than 4ml per day. Increasing by only 1mL per week to ensure you aren’t surpassing what you need to hastily. Wondering what the effects are? Read our Mushroom Tincture Guide.

You can also safely take all of our mushroom tinctures simultaneously (read more about alcohol content in mushroom tinctures here). We encourage you to develop your own chosen regimen of specific mushroom tinctures to be used as a daily supplement based on your own health goals, your own understanding, and your own experience with these fungi.

And let me just say… Beta glucans are not the end-all be-all.

The only reason beta glucans have become the gold standard of quality indicator testing is because they are the only constituent for which commercial testing services are readily available. In addition to this, there are several types of beta glucan - Fungal Beta Glucan or (1,3)(1,6) β-glucan, and starch beta glucan, or (1,3)(1,4) β-glucan. While both are Beta Glucan, they are not the same in terms of health benefits, with Mushroom Beta Glucan having a natural triple helix stucture that constibutes greatly to its immunomodulatory and anticancer properties. Many companies will test for overall beta glucan (both starch and mushroom derived), instead of specifically testing for (1,3)(1,6) β-glucan. This is done to obscure the fact that an immense amount of starch filler remains in their end product. All of our testing at Birch Boys has been done on (1,3)(1,6) β-glucan, and our products contain zero starch or filler.

This does not mean beta glucans are the most important thing present. We see it much differently. We don’t necessarily think beta glucan is all that relevant, relatively speaking, when we consider hundreds (if not thousands) of studies that have been performed on other more complex constituents within medicinal mushrooms. Many of these constituents are the alcohol soluble compounds, which we have not even discussed in this article.

Up Next: The Science of Mushroom Tincture-Making Part 2. Ethanol Extracts & Powerful Triterpenes. To be discussed at a later date.

Up Next: Up Next: The Science of Mushroom Tincture-Making Part 2. Ethanol Extracts & Powerful Triterpenes. To be discussed at a later date.

If you were to ask Birch Boys, triterpenes are (by far) the most incredible active ingredients in medicinal mushrooms. They are not water soluble, nor are there any affordable quantification services that we have been able to find, but we desperately want to figure out how many triterpenes are actually present in our products. We just need to figure out how.

We've spoken to various consultants and it seems that custom method development work will be required for general quantification of total triterpenes in each mushroom species. This would be extremely expensive, unless you have a talented chemist, specialized equipment, and laboratory instruments in your back pocket.

To any bright minded, competent chemist out there looking to develop a successful enterprise - I would urge you to start a mushroom-focused quality indicator laboratory and offer triterpene quantification services. This will be big business. Let's figure it out together!

... To be continued.