Guide to collecting your very own birch sap

Drinking birch sap has been very much in vogue for the past years, it would seem. Latvia's markets, stores and cafes all stock this nutrient-rich and refreshing drink. But it's so much better to collect some yourself. 

To that end, Latvian Television's Rīta panorama morning news are here to help.

"Birch sap is a mixture of sugar, vitamins, minerals and growth stimulants. This gives one a boost of energy. As a diuretic, it also cleanses the body very well. It's enough to drink four to five glasses of birch sap a day, and your body will be very well cleansed," says pharmacist Vija Eniņa. 

Now, if this extolling description sounds convincing to you, it's high time to go to the woods and collect some sap for yourself.

Forestry expert Kaspars Rižis says that you can extract sap from any birch, but slim trees should be avoided lest they die. "There's one thing to note. You should drill a hole as low as possible on the tree, in order to prevent it from dying," he said. 

It should be noted that Latvian law allows each individual to tap a single hole in a birch in the state-owned forests as well. 

As people may no doubt have trouble procuring the necessary equipment, you can buy ready-made sets for extracting tree sap at Latvian stores.

According to Riže, you should drill a hole about five centimeters deep. Then you put a hose in it.

"You attach the bag to the hoop. Then you put on the special holders, and you're set," he says. 

Finally, you attach a bag to the hose and wait for when it's full. "We can take as much as there is from the hole. You can have as much as you like, as nature will run its course. As soon as the leaves are out, the sap becomes murky and bitter, and people stop by then," he said. 

When you've collected enough, you should close the hole with a plug. 

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