Chaga Cream Soda

Chaga Cream Soda

I've been excited about fermentation for many years now.   But my passion has very recently entered a whole new level.Mysterious BoxI found the missing ingredient!That is, I found my missing ingredient.  You see, unless I'm able to find a way to bring medicinal plants and my giddiness for foraging into any aspect of my life, I start to get a bored.  It's funny to say, but it's true.  I'm that geeky, that enamoured, that totally consumed with the healing power of plants!So, a few months ago, I began experimenting with the my Ginger Beer recipe.  And by experimenting with, I mean that I began adding a lot of herbs along with (or instead of) the ginger.  I've been playing with recipes for a 'strong bone' soda, an 'antiviral' soda, a 'chill out' soda and even a 'nighty-night' soda.

But I want to share with you my tastiest experiment so far...

Chaga Cream Soda

glass of Chaga Cream SodaThe other competing name for this brew is Adapto-drink, but that name just doesn't have the same pop.  (I could resist the pun)  Most of the ingredients are considered adaptogenic, meaning that they support the adrenal glands, restore vitality and overall health, and are best taken in smaller doses over longer periods of time.In other words, not only do you get to treat yourself every day with this delicious drink, but I'd highly recommend it!

Here's What's In It...plate of dried herbs

  • 30 g (1 oz) of Chaga 'mushroom' (cut and sifted or freshly powdered)
  • 15 g (1/2 oz) of Reishi mushroom (freshly powdered)
  • 15 sticks (~10g) of Licorice root (I prefer the chinese variety to the european)
  • 1/2 of a Vanilla bean
  • 3 cups of organic sugar (use your favourite type)
  • 1/4 cup of active, liquid whey (can also work with a ginger 'bug')

How I do it...

First let me say that these amounts make 2 gallons (8 L) of soda.  You may want to start out with a half batch.

  1. Put all the herbs except the vanilla and 1 gallon of water into a pot.
  2. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer for 30 minutes or so.
  3. Add the vanilla and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.fermenting bucket
  4. Take it off the heat and let it sit for a while.
  5. Strain through muslin or cheese cloth to filter out herbs.
  6. Add sugar and stir until it's all dissolved.
  7. Once it's cooled to 'just warm', add the whey, pour into bucket(s) and cover loosely.

I'm fairly new to fermenting with whey after years of using only ginger 'bugs' as my yeast source.  But I've become a devotee.  It works quickly and has been more consistent for me than the wild yeast captured in the 'bug'.If you're new to fermenting with whey, it can be a little freaky at first because you can actually see the yeast colonizing the surface of your brew.  Many people, myself included, mistakenly identify the yeast as mould.  This is different than a sour kraut that sometimes gets surface mould.  It's more like the white specs that you get on your brine pickles.yeast on surfaceSo, don't be alarmed if/when you get something that looks like this...It means it's working.  (sometimes the yeast 'blanket' is strong enough to capture the bubbles that rise up as it ferments.  The bubbles can get really big!)

Knowing when it's ready...

I start testing it after about 5 days (in the winter).  It's often too sweet for me at this point, but I can taste that something is happening.  I usually bottle it around day 10 and start serving it to my kids right away.  Both for my taste and my desire to limit the sugar my kids eat, I wait until it's got a semi-strong sourness and the sweet isn't the first punch of flavour.Make sure you do these 2 things before you serve it...

  1. Refrigerate before opening!Grolsch bottle lid
  2. Burp your bottles.  I recommend using the resealable bottles (grolsch style) because it's impossible to burp a capped bottle.

This is a very, very active culture.  Not only have I exploded bottles by leaving them too long, but without burping them you'll end up showering yourself (maybe the whole room) when you open them.  Trust me on this, way more explosive than champagne!

 Ok, let's talk herbs...

First, let me highlight that this brew means that each cup (250ml) of Chaga Cream Soda contains 1.25 g of herbs.  That means that 1 or 2 cups each day is the perfect tonic dose.Chaga, often called a mushroom, is a fungus found almost exclusively on Birch trees.  It has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, adaptogenic, and restorative properties.  Sadly, it doesn't grow around Vancouver (requiring much colder winters) so you can't easily forage it yourself.  But it does grow in northern BC, so if you're adventurous you can find it.Reishi has been a deeply revered mushroom in China for many thousands of years.  It does grow  southern BC, but requires much older forests than most around Vancouver.  While hiking on the west side of Vancouver Island a few years, I found many sizable reishi's.  China town is also a great place to get them.Licorice is another herb with a very long history of use in Asian, Ayurvedic and European herbal traditions.  It's heals digestive issues, lung issues.  adrenal exhaustion, hormonal imbalances and much more.Vanilla is an herb that I know very little about.  I've added it here solely for it's yummy flavour and scent.If you have herbal soda stories or if you try this and want to share (or ask questions), please comment here.Click here to download the Chaga Cream Soda recipe.

Introducing: The Herbal Integration Course

Over the last 10 years, I've watched folks struggle to find health care practices that feel good in their hearts AND that work.  I've seen many people resign themselves to taking drugs that they'd rather not be taking because it's the only thing they trust to work.I created this course specifically to help people develop a deep and powerful trust in local herbal medicines, along with building the skills to make these powerful medicines in their own kitchens.Herbal sodas, medicinal root beers and other herbal ferments are a part of this course.  The Experimental Labs will have you bottling your own medicinal ferments in no time.If this is resonates with you, I invite you find out more.

Check it out: Herbal Integration Course