You don’t have to go on a psychedelic trip to reap the benefits of mushrooms. Meander through Marylebone for an adaptogenic latte. DOSE editor, Hettie, heads to Yeotown Kitchen to put one to the test…
I have always had a Hobbit-like fondness of mushrooms. A family breakfast at my house was never complete without a side of buttery buttons, nor a marinated sirloin without the sautéed variety smothered in garlic. I confess, despite growing up on a farm carpeted with these earthly pleasures, I was always too paranoid to experience their true magic.
In 2005, at the height of my teens, magic mushrooms – the psilocybin-containing, mind-altering ones that have been used for thousands of years by the Ancient Greeks to the Aztecs – were classified as Class A drugs. Naturally around the time my peers started experimenting with them. Some reported “hearing colours” and “seeing sounds”, whilst others’ accounts were far more frightening and enough to put me off for life.
Fast forward to 2018 and guess what is at the top of the wellness agenda?
According to The Global Wellness Summit, “Brain resetting magic mushrooms will start to emerge from underground. More people will microdose them as creativity and brain boosters (…) Magic mushroom retreats (like MycoMeditations) will keep popping up in places where legal (…) where the “trip” gets combined with increasingly luxe wellness experiences. And as medical evidence also ramps up showing that non-magic mushrooms are magical for human health (with adaptogenic, anti-aging and other powers), we’ll see a new world of mushrooms like reishi, chaga, lion’s mane and cordyceps get worked into so many more foods and drinks, from coffee to chocolate.”
While I ponder my “psilocybin ceremony” with some trepidation, I make the slightly less psychedelic trip to London’s Chiltern Street for a medicinal mushroom latte at Yeotown Kitchen. The London outpost of the award-winning health retreat in North Devon run by Simon, a surfer yogi art dealer and Mercedes Sieff, a wellness industry veteran, regarded as one of the UK’s leading Vinyasa yoga teachers. It seems they saw this one coming a mile off…
“More and more research is being done and science is catching up with our traditional wisdom, which has always held these tree growing mushrooms in very high regard”, says Yeotown Kitchen manager Nolan Luijten. “We now know that these mushrooms play an important role in aiding homeostasis in the body, particularly with regards to our immune system and response. They can help reduce allergies, increase energy, halt cognitive degeneration, increase memory, increase libido and boost fertility.”
He whizzes one up for me to try. It’s a malty, comforting brew that tastes ever so slightly of Horlicks. It contains eight medicinal varieties (reishi, chaga, cordyceps, maitake, tremella, shiitake, lion’s Mane, turkey tail), along with ‘he shou wu’, ‘shizandra’ and ‘pine pollen’. A true witches brew. It slips down rather nicely with a ‘Yeoritto’ aka ‘Tenacity’ – a Yeotown breakfast special.
I know what you’re thinking… another “wellness trend”. But the theory of mushrooms-as-medicine is backed by medical evidence. According to the report, “a new Penn State University study reveals that all mushrooms (but especially delicious wild ceps or porcini) are the #1 source of two important anti-aging antioxidants, ergothioneine and glutathione, that protect the body against cancer, coronary heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease, while keeping the brain healthy. Researchers speculate that that’s why countries like Italy and France (who eat more mushrooms) have much lower rates of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s than countries like the U.S. Hitting Italian levels isn’t hard: just 5 button mushrooms a day”.