Monday, 14 March 2016

Birch Water

Silver Birch Trees
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Silver birch trees have been depicted in Ukrainian/Polish/Slavic artwork for centuries.  Synonymous with that region of Europe (as well as Scandinavia), countryside landscapes and forests are dominated by these white barked trees which is one of the reasons why they have been so strongly valued throughout history.

As aesthetically pleasing as they are, their advantage exceeds their beauty as they contain a goodness for human consumption which although is old news in the east, it is just coming to the forefront here in the west.

As regular readers of my blog will know, my family heritage is from the Ukraine and Poland and growing up, I would hear of stories of how these trees would be used and the respect people had for them for what they offered.

My parents, as children, would insert a little tube into the tree and place a cup underneath. When left for a few days, the tree’s sap/syrup would drip into the cup and once full, this would be drank.  Visually, it was described as an off-white colour, the taste was unique it was neither sweet nor sour, was extremely refreshing and as it came straight from the tree, it had a certain coolness about it.

However, this process is only feasible around March time on the cusp of when winter turns into spring and the tree has revitalised itself for the year ahead.  Such is its significance, the Ukrainian word for (the month of) March is   Березень (Berezen) which comes from the Ukrainian word береза, meaning Birch. 

Incidentally, the Polish word for Birch is Brzoza (B-zh-oza).

Now making strides on the UK foodie scene is Birch Water.

Well, I literally squealed with delight when I was given the opportunity of reviewing TreeVitalise’s Birch Water range.  I felt this is the closest I would get to the sap my parents so speak so fondly of.

So how do TreeVitalise obtain birch water?  Firstly, they use the trees from forests in the Ukrainian Carpathian mountains. 

The ‘living’ water within the tree acts as a catalyst that wakes up the tree from its winter sleep/hibernation and as mentioned above, this happens now in March time.  The water has been filtered through the roots of the birch tree and enriched with nutrients from the tree itself and the soil it came from. Because of that the water is not only refreshing but also very healthy.

TreeVitalise only take a small share of the sap water from each tree during this timeframe so that it has plenty of water for its own needs and therefore the tree isn’t harmed, remains healthy and via wild harvesting methods, it makes it a sustainable procedure. 

**For the reasons of conservation, sap extraction is only done by professionals and those trained to do it and I therefore don’t advocate doing this to silver birches thus avoiding damage to the tree and to yourself.**

TreeVitalise don’t use any artificial flavourings  in their drinks and as well as the Original flavour, for their Mint version, they only use organic mint leaves and only use lemon peel for the lemon one.
TreeVitalise Package
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

The birch water then mirrors what nature provides and it becomes an organic, undiluted and unsweetened drink with only 10kcals per bottle (4kcals per 100ml) – like the original sap.  With it being sugar-free (although natural sugars eg: fructose are present), organic, vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free it is an attractive option for those with allergies or certain lifestyle choices.

Its goodness is proven by the birch water being manganese rich plus combined with the unique micro-nutrients within, these are claimed to stimulate the body’s purifying and cleansing systems as well as lowering sugar levels, encouraging a faster metabolism and promoting quicker absorption of vitamins. 

This is why my parents and my ancestors before them were so applauding of the sap itself as the benefits of it were well known as a ‘health boost’ and my father even described it “medicine”.
TreeVitalise Original Flavour
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Recommended by TreeVitalise to be served chilled, I agree the birch water’s flavour is definitely enhanced when kept in the fridge for a good period of time to get cold - don’t drink it tepid or warm.  To really maximise the flavour and taking the chill factor one step further, I added a good 5 ice cubes to my glass and it really made a difference. 
Glass of TreeVitalise Original
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

It has a ‘clean’ taste with a tiny hint of a sweet/syrupy aftertaste, but only a touch making it very pleasant.  The Mint and Lemon flavours are also nice, but I have to say my favourite is the Original one.

Available at selected healthfood stores (contact TreeVitalise for local stockists), it comes in at a premium price level of approx. £2.75 per 250ml bottle, so although may not be viable as an everyday purchase, it is certainly worth trying if you’re looking for something different yet healthy that contains a wealth of added benefits. 

In fact, when packed with ice, it would make for an excellent summer’s day drink with a few fruit slices added for colour/decoration or perhaps even as a posh ingredient for a mocktail.  In my case by having it, as well as gaining all the goodness it bears, it makes me feel a little closer to my family roots and enhances my parents’ stories of days gone by……..

Disclosure:    This post has been written following complementary samples of Birch Water from TreeVitalise.  The nutritional information stated for birch water has been provided by TreeVitalise and any queries regarding this must be relayed directly to them.  This review was conducted honestly without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review.  For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website.






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