This week’s product review is over a product that I’ve heard lots of buzz about in the natural living/alternative medicine community but was *very* skeptical of: mushroom drinks.
If you haven’t heard of Four Sigmatic, they are a company founded by a Finnish man named Tero, and according to their website, he and his siblings grew up foraging–a practice of finding herbs, mushrooms, flowers, and other plants in the wild and using them for their medicinal health benefits.
It’s actually a pretty cool company. They give the impression of pushing the boundaries and going against the grain–something I think many people can admire. Their focus on science and excellence in their products I found refreshing. Often, trendy health products do not have much research behind them.
Even the name “four sigmatic” is stated on their website to mean the ingredients in their products statistically fall in a group of 100 highly nutrient-dense foods, deemed “the best of the best foods.”
Now on to the review for more about this curious mushroom product!
Is Four Sigmatic Chai Latte Mix Expensive?
Unfortunately, yes. Four Sigmatic’s drink mixes are pretty pricey in my opinion.
Their most popular product (from what I can tell, at least) is their mushroom coffee. There are several types each with different mushroom powders and/or extracts, including ashwaganda, lion’s mane, cordyceps, chaga, and tulsi.
The cost of a 12 oz bag of ground mushroom coffee on Amazon is $19. That’s about 2-3 times the cost of other coffees I found on Amazon…but, to be fair, that’s just regular ol’ coffee. Not coffee with supposed health benefits from amazing ‘shrooms. (:
Now you can also get their coffee directly from their website via a subscription, which will cost you about $40 per month for 2 12-oz bags. Which means Amazon is slightly cheaper.
As far as their other drinks such as the chai latte I tried, the cost is between $16-$20 on Amazon, and about the same on Four Sigmatic’s website. This will get you 10 6-gram packets, with one packet being a serving.
How Does Four Sigmatic’s Chai Latte Taste?
So the drink mix, which I tried once a day for several days, says that it is a latte and is “like a sweet belly rub” which I found amusing.
To make the latte, you simply combine an entire packet with 7 oz of hot water and stir! I loved how simple it was to make.
However, it really didn’t taste like a latte at all. It tasted like chai tea, but there wasn’t a creamy smoothness that you’d expect from a chai latte powder. The first ingredient is coconut milk powder, so I was surprised at this aspect. While I think this is helpful in terms of the low amounts of sugar in the product (which we’ll touch on in the next section), it was disappointing in the end.
Besides the initial let-down of not having a smooth latte-like flavor, the taste was alright. I’ve had my fair share of chai, and I even have my own recipe for homemade chai latte mix, so I am a huge chai lover!
It had most of the core components of chai flavor, like ginger, clove, and black pepper to give it a warming, spicy taste and aroma. I was missing the sweetness I’m accustomed to, though.
Now for the part I’m sure you’re most curious about: does it taste like mushrooms?
If it did, I think I would know immediately since I despise mushrooms…so I’m happy to report that it did not taste anything like mushrooms. I didn’t even notice that it had a more “earthy” flavor like others stated. It tasted pretty run-of-the-mill and on the blander side!
Last note: I tried it with some milk added, and it tasted more like a latte (go figure). As far as I know, adding plant-based or dairy milk doesn’t alter the health benefits of the product (although I haven’t verified this, so if you’re concerned definitely do your own research), so consider this if you want to get an extra smooth, more typical “latte” style drink.
This chai latte mix, along with many of their products, is vegan, paleo, and dairy-free.
While this doesn’t automatically make a product healthier, it is great for people who have allergies, intolerances, or ethical reasons for not wanting to consume animal products!
Check out the nutrition label:
Overall, very little stood out to me here. The 2.5g of saturated fat most certainly comes from coconut milk, which is the first ingredient.
According to the FDA, products on a nutrition label’s ingredient list are included in descending order by predominance, or how much of that ingredient is in the food. So it makes sense that there would be a decent amount of fat from coconut since it is what the product mostly consists of.
The only other thing that stood out to me was the low sugar content! I am pleased with that as many drink mixes are high in added sugars. This product is sweetened with stevia (it’s the last ingredient, so there is not much in it), which is has a more concentrated flavor than sugar, and has little to no effect on blood sugar levels in the amounts typically consumed.
Did I notice a difference when I used it?
I am a pretty high-strung person, who struggles with always being “on.” I hoped this would help me chill out a bit, but I didn’t really notice much of a difference after a couple times drinking the stuff. Perhaps using it over a longer period of time would have yielded better results, but I can’t say I noticed a marked difference in my mood or mental status after using this product for a few days in a row. Bummer!
Medicinal Mushrooms for Health
So by this point, you may be wondering: why mushrooms, though?
A great question! And one I had myself. I despise mushrooms, the ones you add to stir fry, and eat on pizza and such. They’re slimy and gross and I don’t get their appeal at all. So, when I heard of mushroom coffee and tea…I was a bit revolted by the idea.
However, when I learned more about how the mushrooms are in the form of extracts and powders and may have some serious medicinal benefits like reducing anxiety, increasing focus, and aiding relaxation, I was willing to give it a try!
I’m only going to briefly go over some of the health benefits and research, because I’m hoping to do a full blog post on the research surrounding the health benefits of mushrooms, so stay tuned for that!
To start, here are the types of medicinal mushrooms (this is not an exhaustive list!):
A lot of the research I found focused on the following claims:
-anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties
-immune system support
-antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties
A recently published article about Reishi and Turkey Tail’s use in treating cancer found that these types of mushrooms were effective in the treatment and/or prevention of gastric, lung, and breast cancers.
For an easy-to-read version of this research review I read, check out this extensive resource (for educational purposes only, not intended as medical advice).
Another study looked into turkey tail as a possible treatment for breast cancer. This study was very small, as it followed only one elderly woman. However, the results were promising: after three and a half years, along with chemotherapy, taking a dose of turkey tail mushrooms seemed to enhance the immune response of the patient, and make chemotherapy more effective. The researchers noted that their findings were similar to other scientist’s.
A 2018 study found that reishi extract was effective in reducing total cholesterol, LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels, and increasing HDL (“good” cholesterol) levels, which are all indicators for cardiovascular disease risk.
There is plenty more research out there on this topic, but I thought I’d just drop some of the interesting findings I saw here! If you’re interested in this topic and want to learn more, keep an eye out for my more in-depth article about mushrooms that’s coming real soon!
-Tastes pretty good
-Has some proven health benefits, although results will be highly variable from person to person
-convenient and easy to store, prepare, and use
-may not have substantial or noticeable benefits for everyone
That’s it for this week’s product review! What questions did this review leave you with? What should I review next? Let me know in a comment below!