Exploring the Trendy Alternative Morning Beverage
Medically reviewed by Barbie Cervoni MS, RD, CDCES, CDN
Mushrooms, turmeric, and ginger for breakfast? Those are just some of the ingredients in mud water, an alternative morning beverage that is gaining popularity in wellness circles. Marketed as a coffee replacement that is much lower in caffeine and higher in important nutrients, coffee lovers and non-coffee drinkers alike are putting mud water to the test.
Introducing Mud Water
Mud water is a powder that is composed of a combination of mushrooms, adaptogens, cacao, and spices that blend with water to make an energy-giving and nutritious beverage that is an alternative to traditional coffee or tea.
“Mud water claims to give you the energy and focus of coffee without the jitters and crash you might get from your usual morning brew,” says Miranda Galati, MHSc, RD. “Mud water markets itself as a healthier coffee alternative and claims to have the same energetic benefits we love from coffee but without the same intensity and anxiety.”
Mud water is a unique blend of a variety of ingredients inspired by ancient Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine practices. The creator of the sellable blend and founder of MUD/WTR, Shane Heath, was inspired to make a healthier version of coffee that wouldn’t give him the anxious peak of jitters and then the tired crash.
Heath set out to find the ingredients that would blend into a substance that would give him the alertness and physical stamina and performance without the side effects of coffee. After experimenting with a number of different blends, he nailed the final product.
All of MUD/WTR’s mushrooms are grown USDA-certified organic with the highest quality mushroom growers. They are grown on an indoor farm in Carlsbad, California, which helps to ensure they are grown sustainability with the highest quality. The mushrooms go through third-party testing for heavy metals and other contaminants before they leave the farm.
While mushrooms in your morning beverage may sound strange, they are packed with potential health benefits like promoting overall body wellness and focus, supporting a healthy immune system, and encouraging digestive wellness.
Related: How Much Caffeine Is in a Cup of Coffee?
Ingredients, Flavor Profile, and Nutritional Content
The ingredients found in mud water include eight adaptogenic mushroom species, herbs, and spices. The recipe includes lion’s mane for mental performance, cordyceps for physical performance, reishi for recovery and immunity, chaga for overall health, turmeric for inflammation, and cacao for mood.
The different medicinal mushrooms are also packed with potential health benefits.
Reishi, known as the “King of Mushrooms,” is thought to support the body’s ability to respond to stress and support the immune system.
Lion’s mane is a fungus that often grows on trees. It is used in traditional Chinese medicine and is known for promoting cognition and focus.
Chaga is known for its medicinal properties, antioxidant properties, and is also believed to help support the immune system.
Cordyceps is popular in traditional Chinese medicine and is primarily used to support the immune system and provide antioxidant properties.
Turkey tail, which is named for its appearance, is a popular mushroom to cook with as well as use for medicinal properties. It offers antioxidant and immune-supporting benefits.
The king trumpet mushroom is packed with nutrients such as protein, fiber, B vitamins, and vitamin D as well as potassium, magnesium, and zinc.
The maitake and shiitake mushrooms are popular in cooking, but also contain antioxidants and are a good source of B vitamins and biotin.
In addition to adaptogenic mushrooms, mud water contains masala chai for energy as well as turmeric and cinnamon for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Mud water tastes like a more mild, earthier, and spicier version of coffee. The chai flavors are prominent with a hint of cacao and earthiness from the mushrooms balances out the spice flavors.
Related: Is Chicory Coffee Good for You?
Potential Health Benefits
Mud water is attractive to many due to its reduced caffeine concentration. It contains 35mg of caffeine in one cup compared to 90mg to 100mg of caffeine in a typical cup of coffee. This can be beneficial to those who are looking to decrease their caffeine intake or are sensitive to caffeine.
Additionally, it contains herbal adaptogens which are natural substances that may help the body cope with stress. According to Malina Malkani, MS, RDN, CDN, several studies suggest that chaga mushrooms may have the capacity to protect against viruses, cancer, and diabetes. Meanwhile, research suggesting memory and learning benefits has only been studied in animals, she says. Additional studies are needed to determine the benefit to humans.
Mud water also contains ingredients like cacao and cinnamon that are rich in antioxidants and help combat oxidative stress. Cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric are also included in mud water and have been associated with potential digestive benefits, including soothing the digestive system and reducing inflammation.
“It’s important to note that there is limited specific research on mud water as a product, but many studies have investigated the individual ingredients used in its formulation,” says Wan Na Chun, MPH, RD, CPT. “More comprehensive studies are needed to determine the specific effects of these herbs when combined in mud water.”
Related: What is Mushroom Coffee?
How to Prepare and Customize Mud Water
Making a cup of mud water is quite simple. Mix 1 tablespoon of powder with 12 ounces of water heated to 180 degrees Fahrenheit or milk of your choice and stir to combine.
You can use a milk frother if you have one handy to ensure everything is well combined. Customize the mud water to suit your individual preferences, such as adding any milk you like, sweeteners, or additional spices like cinnamon or nutmeg.
Mud water is suitable for gluten-free, kosher, vegan, and Whole 30 diets. While allergic reactions to ingredients in mud water are rare, individuals should assess their personal allergies and sensitivities and read the ingredient list carefully.
Potential Drawbacks and Considerations
Before trying mud water, there are some factors you may want to consider, Chun says. “Mud water has a distinct taste that may not appeal to everyone. It is often described as earthy, slightly bitter, and less robust compared to regular coffee.”
Additionally, there is a lack of personalization when it comes to mud water since it is a pre-blended product, Galati adds. “It’s an expensive alternative for sure at $60 per bag or $2 per serving.”
Individuals with specific health conditions should consider their circumstances and speak to a healthcare professional before trying mud water, Chun says. “Some of the ingredients in mud water, such as adaptogens, may have potential interactions with certain medications or medical conditions. For example, individuals with autoimmune diseases, bleeding disorders, or hormonal imbalances may need to exercise caution when consuming adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha or reishi mushroom.”
Further, because the caffeine content is considerably less than regular coffee, there may be an adjustment period if you are sensitive to caffeine and your body has become accustomed to consuming caffeine regularly.
Related: What Is Caffeine Tolerance?
Availability and Where to Buy Mud Water
Mud water can be purchased through the company’s official website as well as specialty coffee shops, health food stores, organic eateries, and yoga studios. One can of the power, which contains about 30 servings, retails at $60. The MUD/WTF brand is committed to sourcing 100% organic ingredients and using sustainable and ethical sourcing practices.
Mud water is a good alternative to coffee if you are looking for a morning beverage with more nutrition and less caffeine, as well as antioxidant and stress-reducing properties. Explore this beverage to see if it aligns with your taste preferences and wellness goals. And talk to a healthcare provider if you have any underlying health conditions and are unsure if mud water would be a good fit for your diet and lifestyle.
Related: The Best Half and Half Substitutes