Janet Yellen Accidentally Ate Magic Mushrooms in China


U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen accidentally eating magic mushrooms in China was not on anyone’s 2023 bingo card.

Last month, while discussing diplomacy overseas, Yellen dined at a restaurant during a visit to Beijing called Yi Zuo Yi (In and Out), a chain known for a Yunnan dish containing mushrooms called jian shou qing which means “see hand blue” in a rough translation.

However, Lanmaoa asiatica mushrooms (the mushrooms that are used in the dish) are not your average fungi — they’re known to have hallucinogen properties and turn blue when pressure is applied to them.

Yellen didn’t know this before consuming her dish, she told CNN, noting that she also did not order for the group nor have a clear understanding of what she was consuming.

Janet Yellen speaks during a press conference at the G20 Finance Ministers, Central Bank Governors (FMCBG) and Finance and Central Bank Deputies (FCBD) meetings in Gandhinagar, India (Getty Images)

“There was a delicious mushroom dish. I was not aware that these mushrooms had hallucinogenic properties. I learned that later,” she said. “All of us enjoyed the mushrooms, the restaurant, and none of us felt any ill effects from having eaten them.”

Yellen explained that the mushrooms were cooked well and thoroughly enough, which would explain why she didn’t experience hallucinations, as the mushrooms lose their magical properties when cooked through, instead of consumed raw.

It is not exactly known what property causes these mushrooms to bring on “trips” when consumed, but they have been deemed poisonous in Chinese culture, and are not thought to contain phycobilin, the standard chemical that causes hallucinations in magic mushrooms that are widely used in Western culture.

The Treasury Secretary was in Beijing to meet with Chinese officials about U.S.-China relations in discussions that she said were “direct, substantive and productive,” while noting that though the two nations have significant disagreements” it is pertinent that “disagreements need to be communicated clearly and directly.”


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