Over the last few years, Birchwater has seen a significant rise in popularity in the UK and across the Northern Hemisphere.

Once a widespread tradition in the Scottish Highlands, the practice of tapping Birch trees and using the sap as a pure and revitalising drink had long been forgotten but its recent revival has led to Birchwater firmly establishing itself in the UK market as a delicious, nutrient-rich, detoxifying drink that cleanses the liver, soothes arthritic pain, rejuvenates skin and balances cholesterol.

However, it can only be extracted or ‘tapped’ from Birch trees during one very short three-week period in March.

For Perthshire-based company Birken Tree – the first and only home-grown producer of commercial Birchwater in the UK – that brief but vital period is underway.

Co-founders of Birken Tree are husband and wife team Rob and Gabrielle, whose combination of forester and healer led them on a journey to renew the ancient Scottish Highland tradition of Birch tree tapping for its health potential. Back in those days, Birchwater was used to replenish newborn babies and even cattle with much needed nutrients and minerals after a rough winter.

Their knowledge of trees and their healing properties, plus their desire to share the health benefits of Birchwater more widely in the UK, resulted in the Birken Tree company which they set up in 2018 in the foothills of the Perthshire Highlands.

Describing the tapping process, Rob and Gabrielle said,

The tapping period is a crucial time for us as it’s such a short window of opportunity and it’s also extremely weather dependent.In early Spring when the temperature rises, Birch trees across the Northern Hemisphere fill with hundreds of litres of sap that filters up through the tree to provide nutrients for the new leaves growing on the branches. To collect the Birchwater from the tree, we carefully insert a hole and a tap into the tree, enabling the sap to immediately flow out into closed bags. It can take as long as 24 hours to collect up to 10 litres so it’s a slow and steady process. As we only collect 5 to 10 litres of sap a day from the hundreds of litres that flow through each tree, tapping the birches doesn’t harm the trees in any way. Other Birchwater brands sold in the UK import their products from Finland, Latvia, Ukraine or Belarus. In addition to our Birchwater, we also use the leaves from these beautiful ancient trees to make a purifying tea for anti-inflammatory purposes and urinary tract healing. A rare fungus growing on Birch trees can be used for treating skin conditions, and much research has shown it has anti-tumorous properties.

Future plans for Birken Tree

Whilst only in its infancy, Birken Tree already has some exciting new brand plans for the future. These include a sparkling version of its Birch sap, along with two flavour variants: a Wild Cranberry and Blaeberry base and a Meadowsweet base.

Birken Tree Birchwater is currently available to buy on its website and they have partnered with Greencity Wholefoods in Glasgow. Over the next few years, they plan to extend their reach to more local cafes, delis, restaurants and hotels, along with other chains of distribution across the UK.

Sustainability lies at the heart of the business

Underlying these future plans, sustainability lies very much at the heart of the Birken Tree business.

In Scotland, there are over 91,000 hectares of Birch woodland, somewhere over 200 million trees, and Birch trees are considered to be among the oldest species of tree still living so we need to look after them,
said Rob and Gabrielle.

We only use wild Birch trees, not plantations trees and we aim to carefully protect our Scottish Birch woodland to ensure that future generations of these trees are nurtured and will last for centuries to come.