Chaga mushrooms are a fungus that grows on hardwood trees in cold, northern forests, used by Russians and Scandinavians for centuries to treat everything from digestive issues to cancer. We had the opportunity to speak with Plainview-based Chaga Island Tea, to learn more about the health benefits of this magical mushroom elixir and why we should add it to our wellness routine.

RT: What is Chaga Island’s origin story?
CIT: Chaga Island was conceived from a 30-year friendship between Debbie Falborn, R.N. and Bridget Leroy, both native Long Islanders. Many years later when Bridget’s third child was diagnosed with mononucleosis, she discovered her friend Debbie was living in the same town and reached out to her for her advice as a former pediatric nurse. By Bridget’s account, she was shocked to be handed three wood-like pieces of chaga mushroom and told to go home, brew it, and have her son drink the tea. In five days, the illness that was supposed to keep him in bed for 4-6 weeks was gone. His bloodwork was negative for mono.

Soon after that making chaga tea became their mission. Together Debbie and Bridget spent over two years learning and developing the magnificent Chaga Tea we have the good fortune to have available to us. Initially sold at Farmer’s Markets, it went to retail stores around Long Island in 2018. The feedback from consumers was amazing for this great-tasting, organic brewed medicinal tea.

RT: What sets Chaga apart from other healing teas?
CIT: What sets us apart from other chaga products is the process. There are only two ways of receiving the healthy benefits of chug mushrooms, both of which requires breaking down the chitin (the hard, shell-like component of fungi cell walls). Only alcohol extraction or long, slow brewing using water can extract the medicinal properties. Using the water method, the body can better assimilate the mushroom’s benefits.

RT: What role do chaga mushrooms play for those adhering to a holistic lifestyle? 
CIT: Chaga mushrooms are considered to be The King of Medicinal Mushrooms. They are antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant . In fact, they have the highest antioxidant value of any other natural substance aside from raw cacao. Chaga tea is one of the highest immunomodulators on the planet. Some of its many nutrients include Vitamin A, Vitamin B-complex, Vitamins C, E and K, iron, calcium, zinc, and fiber.

RT: When/how often should we drink Chaga tea? What do you recommend? 
CIT: We suggest to others to do as as we do and enjoy our teas every day for health maintenance. Our teas an be enjoyed both cold and hot.

RT: Anything new at Chaga Tea?
CIT: At Chaga Island Tea, we’re always looking to provide our clients with new combinations of organic flowers and herbs that contribute to well-being. Look for new flavors in the coming year!

RT: For those of us who dream of starting their own local biz, what has it been like to launch/run a successful local business?
CIT: Starting a local successful business can be daunting but a dream that can be realized. There are so many talented passionate creators of food here on Long Island. We at Health By Design, it’s our mission to join with the imaginative creators of food and drink to bring their products to market. As a team of people who care about the integrity of food, snacks, and beverages, we are excited to continue to bring forth delicious healthy gluten free, keto, organic, and kosher foods to Long Island.

Try Chaga Island Teas in Cinnamon  and Hibiscus flavors. Other products in the Health By Design collection include Chocorite Keto Blast (a keto meal replacement bar), Splitz (a split pea snack), CloudWater (a CBD sparkling water) & Blossom Water, a flower and fruit beverage.