Lingzhi. A venerated mushroom in the east for its medicinal properties. The Chinese name reishi translates roughly as "herb of spiritual potency" and it is said to be of benefit to the chest and the Qi of the head. It is thought to prolong life and lighten the load of life. I was delighted to see that I can now buy this remarkable mushroom in London, where Helen O'Rahilly photographed this extraordinary fungus. A polypore mushroom, in its fresh form it is soft and spongey, with a distinctive kidney-shaped cap. Different colours and shapes are said to benefit different parts of the body. The taste is bitter and the more red the mushroom the more bitter the taste. Thinly sliced or pulverized lingzhi (either fresh or dried) is added to a pot of boiling water, the water is then brought to a simmer and the pot is covered; the lingzhi is then simmered for two hours.