Are your super foods really super?

As our Instagram post from a few days indicated, there are many different types of foods on the market that are using the "super food" label. 

As you can imagine, we often get questions from customers about our products. Here are the 3 most common questions about chaga:

  1. Why is the Asian/Russian chaga on Amazon so much cheaper than yours?
  2. Are the ingredients you use to flavor the chaga really organic?
  3. What does it mean when other companies say their chaga is processed with dual-extraction and how is it different from your processing?

We answer these questions all the time and wanted to share the answer with you to show why our product family has true super foods! We want to make sure you have all the information before making a purchase decision.

Superfood sign

Chaga prices on the market - as someone wiser than me once said "you get what you pay for". Chaga is no exception to this. You can't buy a Rolls Royce for the same price as a Hyundai (without there being something wrong with it)

Everyone knows the pollution levels in China and Russia and the radioactive levels in Japan after nuclear accidents are high. We don't think that's the correct growing environment for something that's supposed to support and possibly improve your health and immune system.

You can find tons of herbs and mushrooms in tea and powder form that have been grown in those geographic regions. Usually these products are lower in price and are being sold with the same promise of being pure with no mention of where the ingredients were grown or how they were processed. I agree that Chinese medicinal herbs were super foods in the past but today's polluted growing environments alter the effectiveness of the plants and the positive effects are diminished. The trunk of a tree absorbs for example the heavy metals from exhaust in the air and in turn transfer it to the chaga growth and to the end user, us. It is unfortunate that these companies use misleading superlatives about their products. The price of the product and the touted benefits don't seem to match.

Also the manufacturing processes for these products should be questioned. Laboratory test have found mold toxins in Asian chaga in the past which tells us that the mushroom processing was rushed and it was packaged while still wet. Properly processed chaga is dried in low temperatures for days and then packaged. Some producers also add cheaper mushroom with the chaga and the product you are buying is not actually 100% chaga. I'm at least not willing to pay the price of chaga and get my local mushrooms instead :) It is telling that the Chinese import pure chaga from Finland for their own use. They want the benefits of this super food that is grown in the pure environment.

Our chaga is 100% Finnish. Totally pure, high quality chaga grown in the arctic environment in Northern Lapland in Finland (we can pinpoint exactly where the chaga was collected for each batch of chaga we offer). No additives or maltodextrin and dried with a unique slow low temperature process that ensures all antioxidants are retained and there is no fear of mold. Keep an eye out for chaga products that show the USDA organic logo, something grown in the wild cannot be certified as organic by USDA. Organic growing is obviously preferable to mass production but in case of wild products, wild trumps organic. Before buying, make sure you know where your chaga was grown!

Your feedback each day supports our claims. We constantly hear from people that our chaga tastes totally different from other brands. 

Chaga collected from Finland before the drying process.

Chaga collected from Finland before the drying process.

Our spices & flavors-As with chaga, by in large many spices and herbs that are used by other brands are from Asia. Many use them as additives with promise of multitude of health benefits with no mention of quality. This is not the case with us. Each of our flavors are organic and grown and controlled by the European Union (other than our vanilla which is from Madagascar and is imported and grown under the EU organic standards).

We don't want to add anything but the highest quality ingredients to our valuable chaga. The spices and flavors represent the same high quality pure values and health benefits as all of our products.

DIY chaga tincture

DIY chaga tincture

Chaga extracts on the market - Many consumers are being hosed with some of the products out there. Many of these powder mixtures and pills have almost a sweet taste to them. Here's why: manufacturers tell us that alcohol is used to extract ingredients in the chaga that do not dissolve in water but the same manufacturing process requires the chaga to be ground into a fine powder and the powder needs a binding agent to not burn during the process. The binding agent most generally used is maltodextrin which is a sweet additive comparable to sugar. Some manufacturers use starch as their binding agent but the effect on our bodies is the same- both break down fast.

I am also concerned about the high temperature the spray-dried process heats the chaga to and the effects on the bio ingredients. The spray dried process is done with nitrogen in around 440 degrees F and the molecular structure of chaga is known to breakdown in around 160-170 degrees F. It is not clear which and how much of the health benefits are left after this type of drying process. All research done on chaga is done on chaga in it's natural form, not on these extracts.

So why is it done this way by some manufacturers? It's a quick way to get chaga on the market and be able to list 100% chaga on the label that is manufactured with dual-extraction. In actuality, only 50% of the mixture ends up being chaga even when you are paying 100% of it in the price.

Soaking chaga in alcohol is a great way to extract ingredients that have health benefits but there is no need to add additional chemicals or additives and a high temperature heated processes. The right way is to soak the chaga for at least weeks in low temperatures. You can find the directions for this below.

I know many cases in Finland of very ill people (myself included) who have been able to correct the imbalance in their bodies with chaga that was just soaked in water. It is reasonable to assume that the quality and purity of the chaga is what matters. 

I've played a at-home-chemist a few times with our used NordicNordic chaga sachets to make few different flavored chaga tinctures/extracts (without maltodextrin ;)) and they work well mixed in with coffee or tea. You just need to add a few drops a day!

Here's directions on how to make a DIY single-soaked chaga tincture:

What you need:

  • NordicNordic chaga sachets (quantity depends on the amount of alcohol used)
  • Alcohol (at least 80 proof)- use organic glass packed when possible
  • 2 glass dishes
  • Strainer/filter/cheesecloth
  • Bottle with dropper/pipet

1) Choose a flavor of chaga and place it on the bottom of the glass container. You can use fresh/dry chaga from the sachet or used chaga from already brewed sachets. Great way to reuse your already brewed chaga!

2) Pour alcohol in the container on top of the chaga. The quantity will vary depending on the size of your dish. A typical mixture is 1:2-1:5 chaga to alcohol. The stronger the alcohol, the less water it consists of, and the stronger your tincture.

3) Shake the mixture 1-2 times a day for the next weeks. It is ready within 2 weeks to be strained.

4) Strain the mixture and store in smaller bottles/containers when desired. For example in bottle with dropper for easier usage.  There are gadgets specifically made for pressing/straining the tincture but strong hands and cheese cloth work just as well!

The tincture/extract will be good for 2-3 years

ABC's to DIY dual extraction

The end goal of dual extraction is to combine the water soluble active ingredients with the alcohol soluble ones. And also produce an extract that has a long shelf live and alcohol content of at least 40 proof. 

Dual extraction can be done mainly in two different ways. One re-uses the left over chaga used in the alcohol extract process to then use it in the water based process and the other vice versa. I personally prefer to first do the water soluble process and then the alcohol based. Here's what you need:

- Strong chaga "tea" (water)
- Strong chaga extract (alcohol- instructions above)

You simply have to combine these two extracts. But there are few things to consider. The desired consistency in the end should be 75% water & 25% alcohol.

The final potency of the extract is easy to calculate if you use 100 proof alcohol in making the alcohol extract. This way the dual extraction result will automatically be 25% alcohol when mixing the two extracts in 1:1 ratio. If you are using a different proof alcohol it's best to calculate the alcohol percentage of the end product to ensure that the extract does not go bad and has a long shelf life.  

Always keep in mind that the alcohol may slightly separate from the extract over time. Make sure to shake your bottle/dropper before use or before transferring to a smaller container to ensure the quality of your extract. 

The best thing about either version - these pure versions of super food are more ecological as well. You are first using the sachets with water to make tea or other drinks and getting the benefit of all the antioxidants and then using the same chaga to soak in alcohol to get all the other non-soluble to water benefits.  

You are treating your body to 100% pure Finnish chaga!

Eat wisely. 

Nina