An interview with Tiffany Kushner, mushroom devotee and Founder of Chaga Life.
The mushroom lady making drinking fungus fun, healthy and bang on trend!
We’ve been getting well into our mushrooms as of late and Chaga’s one that we find particularly intriguing. Chaga Life is a fantastic London-based business turning this magic ingredient into healthy, refreshing drinks. Founder Tiffany is hugely knowledgeable so we caught up with her to get the lowdown on all things Chaga-related.
Ok, so Chaga, WTF?
Chaga mushrooms have been used for centuries as traditional medicine in Northern Europe and Russia to improve overall health, vitality and immunity. It’s not like a normal mushroom as you would imagine; it’s a hard, woody mass that takes around 15 years to grow, mainly on birch trees in very cold climates.
Its major claim to fame is that it has the highest ‘Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity’ score of ANY known food. ORAC is the measure of the antioxidant power so this means Chaga is 45x more powerful than the well-known superfood açai and 1500x more than blueberries so you can understand how it gets its name ‘The King of Antioxidants’.
Chaga is not only one of the most powerful medicinal herbs. It’s also an adaptogen, which means exactly what it says, it adapts to you and helps the body adapt to stress so it’s good to drink any time of the day.
It tastes like a weak coffee, not harsh or unkind at all for the power it punches. It contains naturally occurring vanillic acid, which gives it a slight vanilla flavour. As David Wolfe says “it’s unlike any tea in the world!”
Tell us more about Chaga Life.
We are the first and the original Chaga drink in the UK and our drinks have only two ingredients; Chaga and pure filtered water! It’s as honest as the day is long.
The Chaga we use is wild Siberian because it’s the best. We have a farmer local to the Siberian Forest and he harvests it straight from the tree. Then he’ll send the finest, freshest Chaga mushroom directly to us here in London!
We brew the drinks for 24 hours, I can’t tell you the brewing process, it’s a secret, sorry! Though I can tell you the drinks are always deliciously powerful and smooth. And because we source the Chaga directly from the farmer, we can afford to make them strong and concentrated so you’ll be sure to feel that goodness nourishing you in every bottle.
What has the response been so far, who’s drinking this stuff?
We have a lot of regular customers that have been suffering with ill health for a long time, dependent on pills, but since incorporating Chaga Life into their lifestyle they’ve seen their health improving, just by making that small change it has had such significant results.
The fungi community as well as holistic believers, spiritual groups and biohackers ‘got on it’ straight away and now more recently we’ve noticed a lot more athletes embracing mushrooms and plants, what better way to enhance your physical and mental capacity than drinking your way there?
What other functional plants – mushrooms or otherwise – get you excited?
Nothing excites me more than the daddy, psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms. It has so many promising means of improving emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being. It really is magic. Unfortunately, it’s still illegal though so… mums the word, ay? 🤫
Everyone that knows me knows me as a feeder, and the products I buy are only of the highest quality. I don’t scrimp on spending money on food and drink, because I love to create mood-boosting recipes with the best ingredients on the market. Lion’s mane is definitely a favourite of mine; it heightens your brain power, focus and memory. If you have a busy lifestyle and need to stay on the ball, lion’s mane will be your best mate. It’s awesome that it’s found its way into your Social Elixir, which I love!
Surprise surprise, I love chocolate. I go through a lot of cacao at my house, it’s really high in antioxidants too and when you eat cacao, the body produces a natural chemical called phenylethylamine (PEA), it’s the same chemical when you feel excited or in love, who doesn’t want to feel that?
I make these unbelievable shroom ice lollies with cacao and lions mane, along with Chaga, cordyceps, coconut milk, banana, ashwagandha and some magic mushroom powder. They really are heaven on earth.
Tell us about your life before mushrooms.
I’ve always loved to learn and love people which is a good start but the school system wasn’t for me. I had the best time, however, I got expelled from two boarding schools so I didn’t get any formal qualifications but have gone onto get a degree in later life.
I became plant-based aged 25 and started attending biohacking meetings, awake and aware meetings and studying nutrition, that’s when I found my true passion in plants, medicinal mushrooms, and finding ways to optimise my mind and body.
One of the benefits of learning about alternative health traditions is making lifelong friends with women from all over the world. I still regularly pick their brains.
How are you keeping healthy and happy during lockdown?
I’ll start my day by filling up the kettle from my Berkey, pour myself hot water with apple cider vinegar (made with the mother of course), a squeeze of lemon, fresh ginger and a dash of cayenne pepper. It’s great before anything else in the morning and supports healthy digestion. It really gets you going! Then I’ll be out in the garden grounding for a good 20 minutes. Grounding is so awesome and I would really encourage ya’ll to watch The Earthing movie ‘how walking barefoot outside can heal the human body.’
After that, I’m raring to go.
I’ll workout for an hour, then I’ll have a smoothie. At the moment I’m making these super green ones, then after that, it’s business as usual.
Obviously I’m a big fan of functional drinks. I’m enjoying CBD drinks like MEDA Human right now but besides drinks, I love my ōura ring. It’s a health tracker – it helps improve your sleep quality and optimises your performance during the day. It’s a really cool bit of tech.
At the beginning of lockdown, demand was very high for the drink online. There was definitely a buzz word about boosting your immunity and people were looking for that shield.
I’ve really enjoyed the lockdown, it’s been nice to Netflix and chill but I’m looking forward to stores and the gyms reopening back up properly and expanding into some more outlets. Really, we had only started to get going before lockdown so the timing did suck, but we were more than happy to kick back and ride out the storm and pick things up again which we’re doing now. Watch this space.
What’s next for Chaga Life?
A lot of exciting things are happening, one being we are launching in LA. I didn’t expect to be stretching myself this far so early on into the business but my partners in California are keen. I mean it’s L.A., of course, they’re gonna love a ‘shroom elixir after their workout!
We’re finalising things as we speak and I’m over the moon to have two new Chaga Life team members to share the journey with – fresh energy – and I can’t wait to go out there to meet them instead of all the zoom calls. I’ve been speaking with GT Dave ‘The Kombucha King’ so I’ll be swinging by to say hello at his mega factory so that’ll be fun 🙂
What’s your favourite Three Spirit drink and why?
I’ve been obsessed with Three Spirit since day dot. I love to buy them as gifts, better than champagne any day!
Nightcap on the rocks is my wind-down tipple in the evening, and flavour wise my favourite. That smokiness and aftertaste is the whole vibe.
Livener is like having a fun gal pal to get ready with before a night out. I like starting my evening with the Livener – it really gets me in the mood. Sometimes though, I like to take a glug straight out of the bottle as I’m grabbing my keys and phone about to head out of the door. Jump in the car, foot down, music on, good vibes ✌️
Cheers for the knowledge, tips and positivity Tiffany – best of luck in LA, the West Coast will love Chaga Life we are sure!