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The King of all herbs can be found in Ballard

Chaga Mushrooms Arrive at Ballard Farmers Market

By Erin Bosetti

The Ballard farmers market has a dose of new mushroom exploration for mycophiles to enjoy. Chaga mushroom, a medicinal mushroom for Eastern and Northern European, Korean and Russian cultures has arrived in our little corner of Seattle. Ascended Grounds, a vendor at the Ballard Farmers Market offers Chaga mushroom infused coffee has caught the eyes of Sunday morning shoppers and business is up. They hype is fueled by curiosity but maintained by devotion and results.

The Chaga mushroom contains a higher concentration of antioxidants than any other substance on earth and is touted for it’s anti-cancer and immune boosting properties.

“It helps cancer cells go into apoptosis, which is the act of cancer cells to kill themselves, inhibiting tumor growth,” says James Wood, owner of Ascended Grounds.

Studies to quantify the effects of this powerful medicine are still ongoing, but it has been trusted as a powerful medicine for thousands of years and the hope is that soon scientific evidence will corroborate the claims of tradition.

The knobbed and mottled mushroom is found only on birch trees, and tends to favor cooler climates. Crack one open and you’ll find woody flesh, which is ground into a powder for consumption. Ascended Grounds get their mushrooms from British Columbia and Washington, where they grow wild. At first glance, Chaga tend to look almost like a cancerous growth (the name in Norwegian is “kreftkjuke” which translates to “cancer fungus”) or a burned section of a tree. It is a parasitic fungus that slowly feeds on its birch tree hosts.

At Ascended Grounds the Chaga comes in two forms. The first is traditional, using hot water to make a very strong tea. The second combines both the hot water technique and a technique where alcohol is used to release concentrated amounts of the substance and create a tincture. This is then held under the tongue to absorb directly into the bloodstream and swallowed. Woods’ farmers market coffee drink, Clinker Cold Brew, contains this tincture for a double dose of health and caffeine, a perfect pick me up.

By brewingteas and coffee for customers, as well as creating tinctures, Chaga is more accessible (and tastier). They, and other Chaga products, can be found at Dandelion Botanicals here on Ballard Avenue as well as Healeo in Capitol Hill.

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