Wild Reishi in Virginia
My stroll in the park on Saturday was more fruitful than I had imagined. We took a short hike out to Stoneyman lookout in the Shenandoah National Park and along the trail were several dead Hemlocks, devastated by the woolly adelgid. Still standing the damaged hemlocks were full of a reddish brown polypore mushroom. Upon exploration it was determined to be Ganoderma tsugae, Hemlock Varnish Shelf Mushroom or Hemlock Reishi. They were not real fresh, some of them were molded and even a bit bug eaten but never the less exciting to see. Almost as beautiful as the view from Stoneyman, the shelf mushroom is similar in medicinal properties as the Ganoderma luciduim, Reishi mushroom.
The Hemlock Reishi has been commercially grown and used in Chinese Medicine as an immunomodulator for many auto-immune conditions to calm an over active immune system and strengthen a weak immune system. Ganoderma is used to reduce inflammation, treat asthma, clear skin, diminish tumors and cancer growths. Hemlock Reishi has been studied and used to protect the liver and reduce fibrosis. Given its medicinal actions, I decided to harvest a few mushrooms and make a strong decoction. The water extract method is usually recommended as the plant constituent, polysaccharides is water soluble. One could tincture the plant as well and mix the two menstruum together making a double maceration.
But today I will cover them in double the water, simmer to half and strain them out.
Personally I do not think adding honey to bitter helps the taste. I like to use the mushrooms as a soup so if anything is added to my cup of tea, it will most likely be miso and garlic adding to its immune boosting properties.