The latest in a long line of energizing drinks could come from your own back yard. Birch tree water is poised to be the hip new health drink of choice.
Harvested from the sap of silver birch trees and bottled immediately, the drink has many health-giving properties, from decreasing cellulite to detoxifying the body, its makers claim.
Like the wildly popular coconut water ($300 million in U.S. sales last year), birch sap is low in calories. It has hydrating electrolytes, antioxidants and contains saponins, which proponents say may help to reduce cholesterol levels.
For centuries, the sap has been used in herbal remedies in Russia, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. In springtime, the trees are tapped like maple trees. While maple sap is boiled down to create sweet syrup, birch sap is left in its original form.
Companies in Belarus, Finland and Denmark sell the leading lines of birch tree water — in regular, blueberry and raspberry flavors. Sold primarily online, the drinks have begun to appear on the East and West coasts.
Like most coastal crazes, it’s not clear when — or if — Minnesotans will be downing the stuff. In a quick check of local stores, neither Whole Foods nor the Wedge was stocking it yet. However, Felix Xion, a manager at GNC in Minneapolis, said he’s received requests for birch sap.
So far, the drink doesn’t seem to have many Twin Cities cheerleaders.
Kacey Morrow, a registered dietitian at SuNu Wellness in Minnetonka, said she advises her patients to try new health drinks and decide for themselves about the possible advantages, since each person’s body processes things differently.
“It’s important not to consume something just because you’ve heard about it,” she said. “It’s never just as easy as, ‘Oh there’s this one new thing and it’s fantastic.’ ” □