Putting the Spore in Sports Drink

Performance bev made from mushrooms

May 30, 2014
Outside Magazine

Drink up. Note that these mushrooms are not those found in North Korea's new sports beverage—they're actually of the poisonous Amanita muscaria variety.    Avi Dolgin/Flickr

We know sugary sports drinks aren't all they're cracked up to be—some are even linked to bad behavior. But there's a new hydration option from the (completely trustworthy) North Korea, where scientists have just unveiled a sports drink made from mushrooms.

A press release from North Korean state media states that the spore-based sports beverage "is very effective in enhancing physical ability of sportspersons and recovering from their fatigues." The report cites a new way of cultivating mushrooms to turn it into a functional drink, but no details on exactly what that means, what the ingredients are, when it will be available, and, most important, how it tastes.

What is clear is that this innovation comes in the wake of a mushroom boom in North Korea. The Guardian points out that in October the country announced a new Central Mushroom Research Institute in Pyongyang, and what followed was "a brisk drive for mushroom production." It seems there are untold uses for this bounty of mushrooms just waiting to be discovered.

Mushroom drinks aren't unheard of, though their benefits (and tastiness) remain foggy. One example is tea made from reishi mushrooms, said to lower blood pressure and stimulate the immune system, among other things. Plus, vegan ultrarunners love mushrooms for a nice protein kick. So this North Korean sports innovation might be worth a try—but only if you're willing to trade lemon-lime for more earthy fungal flavors.