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reishi cocoa

Reishi Mushroom Hot Cocoa Is Now a Thing

This is This Is Now a Thing, where we check out the science behind new health trends.

The thing

For more than 2,000 years people have believed that certain mushrooms have healing properties—particularly one known as lingzhi in China and reishi in Japan. Grown on logs, reishi can be red or dark-colored with a shiny top, hence its Latin name Ganoderma lucidum, which means bright. If you tap on it, it sounds like a door knock, says Iris Benzie, Chair Professor of Biomedical Science in the Department of Health Technology & Informatics at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, who has been studying reishi for 15 years. It’s not usually eaten whole, mind you. More often, it’s ground-up and sold in capsules or a powder that can be stirred into beverages tea or into soup.

One company that has received some recent press for trying to cultivate the use of reishi in the West is Four Sigmatic, which sells a reishi hot cocoa mix (a box of 10 packets costs $20) and a reishi elixir, a powder that also contains various herbs (a box of 20 packets for $35). “Indigenous cultures would use reishi to make a tea or soup, but many people don’t drink soup on daily basis, and tea didn’t catch on,” says Tero Isokauppila, the company’s CEO. Four Sigmatic makes the products by drying out the fungi, which they get from southeast China, boiling them for roughly 12-24 hours in water and alcohol and then putting the mixture into a “spray-drier that uses pressurized hot air” to remove the liquids. What’s left is a powder supposedly concentrated with the two main components of reishi: polysaccharides and triterpenes.

The hype

These two ingredients are what give reishi its reputation for being a “sacred fungus” and the “mushroom of immortality.” Read more:

Anand Vaid

Sempera Organics' staff writer seeks out all the latest mushroom news to keep you informed and up-to-date.