If you’re getting a bit sick of drinking coffee each morning and are looking for a new beverage to help you ease into your day, mushroom tea might be a good alternative. Available in a bunch of varieties (each made of different types of mushrooms), the tea is said to carry health benefits like improving your response to stress, strengthening your immune system, and boosting your gut health.
Mushroom tea has become pretty trendy over the past few years, but it’s nothing new—people have been sipping mushroom tea for health reasons in various parts of the world for thousands of years. That said, there isn’t a ton of solid scientific research on mushroom tea at this point, so you’ll want to keep in mind that many of these benefits aren’t yet backed by solid research. This doesn’t mean the benefits don’t exist, just that the research isn’t there yet.
If you’re considering trying mushroom tea, here’s a bit more information to help you learn more about it and decide if it might be a good choice for you. (To be clear, we’re referring to non-psychedelic mushroom tea in this piece—these teas won’t make you high—just FYI.)
What are some of the health benefits of mushroom tea?
“Since gut health and gut bacteria play such a crucial role in overall health, it is likely that many of the benefits of mushroom tea stem from the prebiotic benefits that mushrooms have on the gut microbiome,” says registered dietitian Maria Zamarripa. “Mushrooms also contain beta-glucans, which are a type of soluble fiber that may provide benefits like lowering cholesterol and strengthening the immune system.”
But that’s not all. If you’ve heard anything about mushroom tea, there’s a high likelihood the term ‘adaptogens’ was mentioned as well. If you’re unsure what adaptogens are, you’re definitely not alone.
“Adaptogens are herbs and fungi that help your body to adapt,” says Danielle Ryan Broida, a holistic nutritionist and national educator at Four Sigmatic, a company that makes mushroom coffee, tea, and other products. She explains that adaptogens can help stabilize and optimize numerous physiological functions during times of stress.
“Think of your body as having a reservoir of vitality, almost like a water reservoir used by a city in times of drought,” Broida says. “Adaptogens build and strengthen that reservoir. So if drought or stress strikes, you have a bank to pull from, giving you much needed support to keep you balanced in times of occasional stress.”
Mushrooms containing adaptogens make up a small subset of the fungi kingdom called functional mushrooms, which means they benefit the human body, Broida explains. Some different types of functional mushrooms often used in mushroom tea include chaga, lion’s mane, cordyceps, reishi, turkey tail, tremella, shiitake, and maitake.
Here are some of the specific benefits of various types of functional mushrooms that are commonly used to make tea:
Reishi: Broida notes that this extremely popular mushroom has adaptogenic properties that help your body manage occasional stress. It’s also said to help control blood pressure and boost immunity. Broida says Reishi is a great option for someone new to functional mushrooms.
Chaga: Chaga contains many antioxidants and is said to support a healthy immune system.
Cordyceps: Sometimes recommended to athletes to help with endurance and improve performance, cordyceps is said to increase energy and strengthen the immune system.
Lion’s Mane: Said to benefit the brain, this functional mushroom may assist with focus, creativity, and productivity, Broida says.
Maitake: Often referred to as “Hen of the Woods,” Maitake mushrooms may support immune health and also regulate blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
Shitake: One of the most well-known varieties of functional mushrooms, Shiitake mushrooms may boost the immune system and support heart health.
Turkey Tail: Turkey tail is said to have many health benefits, including being full of antioxidants, regulating the body’s immune response, improving gut health, and reducing inflammation.
Tremella: Tremella is really great for skin health. “It supports hydration from the inside-out to support glowing skin,” Broida says.
Here’s how you can brew your own mushroom tea:
Using store-bought mushrooms, you can brew your own mushroom tea by boiling the mushrooms in water and allowing them to simmer for a few hours, or by allowing the mushrooms and water to simmer in a slow cooker for upwards of eight to twelve hours before straining.
“This long extraction process is very important,” Broida says. “You should never eat mushrooms raw, and functional mushrooms in particular must be extracted to be bioavailable to the human body.”
If you’re new to making mushroom tea from scratch, Broida recommends taking a course to learn the ins and outs, including accurate identification of mushrooms. Unless you’re trained and highly skilled at correctly identifying functional mushroom varieties, you’ll want to avoid eating wild mushrooms you’ve found outdoors, as these can be very dangerous to consume, Zamarripa says.
Rather than making tea from scratch, many people choose to purchase teas and other products that contain extracted mushrooms. This is probably the easiest way to go if you’re looking to save on time and effort.
Are there any side effects of mushroom tea?
Some people may experience mild digestive distress after drinking mushroom tea. Additionally, because the research on the safety and recommended dosage for mushroom tea is still limited, it’s important to be cautious about your health. If you have a health condition or are on any type of medication, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and check with your healthcare provider before brewing or sipping mushroom tea.
“While most mushroom teas are likely safe in normal amounts, there is a chance that these teas may interact with certain medications, especially blood thinners,” Zamarripa says. “Because there is no research on the safety of mushroom tea for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, I would recommend avoidance.”