Our Story

GET TO THE SOURCE

All our batches are slow cooked and blended with kindness. We feel that Chaga is a gateway mushroom to learn about fungi and the ecosystem. It is a unique and powerful gift that shouldn't be overharvested. We make sure our suppliers are using the most sustainable techniques and we encourage forest regrowth strategies.

OUR STORY

Growing up in the 90s, we were drenched in pop culture, and everyone was well saturated in soda. From every size, sweetener, and pop, there was never enough. We were swimming in it. 

Fast forward to 2020, the time for slow food and local artisan brands arrived.  People are waking up from their sugar slump and looking for something less sweet, more pop. 

The word Chaga was first mentioned to me years ago by my Uncle Gary in New Hampshire. He had heard a rumor it was good for you. Then one day, up in the mountains, we decided to go for it...

In the Mountains…

It was early Spring and the ground still frozen. We trekked for 2 hours, then came up to a hill. The walk up was a pain, a sheet of ice disguised under an inch of snow. As we all lost hope, I made a mad dash for the birch stand. I had gone maybe 20 feet before I almost tripped over a perfectly cut "Y" shaped log, like as if someone had cut the top of a tree off. Sure enough in the middle of that birch log was a hacked Chaga. I was too late.

10 months and many hours of  research later…

We make another run at it. This time, we’re not amateurs anymore, we’re novices. With the due diligence out of the way and equipped to the teeth, we find ourselves trudging up a frozen brook. The first guy clears the gap where we see ice water zipping by. The second guy shifts his weight to take the lunge and his back leg smashes through the ice. Damn that’s cold. Up ahead we sit on some rocks by the stream and he changes his socks (novice packing move).

 

But wait, sometimes when you take a minute, you end up having to take 2 or 3… Sure enough, right in our vicinity, maybe 25 feet up was a big Chaga. There was no way we could climb that tree, it was shear straight length for at least 30’. We gazed for a few minutes, then began to feel like we were the ones being watched.

After we retreated from that foreboding Chaga, we walked directly into the grove. We figured all those rabbit tracks had to lead somewhere. Lingering just above eye level was another one. Like a scab on the tree, we took a small third not to overly expose the sclerotium. Little chips of golden brown and black flakes dusted the base of a gray birch, and after showing profuse gratitude and thanks, we picked up and moved on.

For a long time, I used to only make Chaga tea. I’d experiment with different flavors and spices. Then one day it hit me. THIS SHOULD BE A SODA!

After a lot of experimenting—including an ill advised explosive first batch with white sugar—we found THE formula in batch #27. To me it was like the same flavor I drank in the 90s, but richer and straight from the Earth. This was a really healthy soda, a super-food soft drink, and after making it for my friends and family, they were convinced that I needed to take it a step further.

But I hesitated. Why would I ever want anyone knowing about Chaga? It's such a rare resource. 

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Can We Sustain? — Can We Protect it? — Can We Grow it?!

YES WE CAN.

People ask me how can we plant some Chaga? They say to me, “Who grows it?” Well, there is only one being who can grow it and we can’t figure out her recipe. It takes at least 15 years for a harvestable Chaga to grow in the wild, but who knows how many years it took for the tree to be colonized by the mycelium, Inonotus Obliquus. The Clinker is an ancient body.

Like all complex life, the best way to love it is to let it be, and let it do the thing it was meant to do..  There needs to be a stronger coalition of harvesters working to protect limited regions and recommended better picking strategies and locations, perhaps inoculations. If we don’t do something, we risk having no Chaga for future generations but regardless, we will lose a lot of the Inonotus Obliquus gene pool. 

So yeah dude, that begs the question, can we reproduce this?

There is one simple answer, and it is resounding yes. It is possible. Like all great feats of science, all it needs is MONEY and TIME.  Also it's nice to know the Finnish have had some modest success.

To grow Chaga isn’t simple by any means, it is unbelievably complex and the indoor cultivations and mycelial fermentations is not the same as their outdoor ancestors. Could it be possible to inoculate live trees with Chaga plugs? Maybe… is it worth to test? Absolutely.  If you think Chewbacca is hairy, you should see my mycelium.

We look to launch a Chaga Re-Inoculation Program in 2020 and would welcome anyone to join and participate (especially if you have birch trees!)  — please send us an email at chagacolacompany@gmail.com

Beyond a doubt, human beings have the capability to do amazing things. See the forest for the trees. Get out in the wild for yourself.

Bring Some Woods To Your Life