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Birch sap has to be collected in early spring before any green leaves have appeared, as in late spring it becomes bitter. This is when the sap is at its most intense and its purifying and diuretic properties are at their best. The collection period is only about a month per year.
Birch sap collection is done by drilling a hole into the tree trunk and leading the sap into a container via some conduit (a tube or simply a thin twig); the sap will flow along it because of the surface tension.
It may be consumed both fresh and naturally fermented. When fresh, it is a clear and uncoloured liquid, often slightly sweet with a slightly silky texture.