Have you tried it yet?
Written by Louise Steen, 8th March 2016
Recently, my uber trendy ‘know-where-it’s-all-happening’ friend introduced me to a new healthy drink; Birch water! This drink is trending in all the hot health-conscious places; New York, London, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Sydney and beyond. And now this health beverage has also made its way to Dubai. Have you tried it yet?
Birch water! What is that? It’s a type of tree water tapped directly from the silver birch trees. This drink has been around since the Vikings – and before commercialization has been very much naturally nutritious and healthy ‘tree-hugging-kind-of-drink’.
Birch trees grow in colder parts of the world like Northern Europe, Russia and Northern China. A birch tree filters over 100 litres of water through its root system a day. The root system filters and adds minerals and nutrients to the birch water. Various ‘tree-hugger’ websites describe the process of tapping birch trees as extremely simple: once a year, before the trees flower, you can plug a tube into the tree – and voila, just like that – get the birch water running and drink it as it is. Apparently this process does not harm your tree, and can give you up to 100L birch water per year! Pretty amazing, and pretty close to nature wouldn’t you agree?
But of course, it’s not all of us who are lucky enough to have a birch tree in our back garden. So Hallelujah for commercialization, when it brings nature into my fridge! One of the companies that have brought organic birch water to the supermarket shelves is Sealand Birk, a Danish company getting their birch water from a naturally organic forest in Northern Finland. Now they have brought birch water to Dubai – something I’ve been waiting for with excitement.
The Sealand Birk birch water has a soft sweet flavour, coming from the natural xylitol from the tree. Natural Xylitol is an all-natural kind of sugar with less of an effect on the blood sugar than refined sugars. Birch water naturally low in calories with only 18 calories per 100ml and contain lots of valuable, naturally occurring nutrients, such as antioxidant vitamin C, rehydrating potassium, immune system-boosting zinc, magnesium and copper thought to have anti-ageing benefits. Unlike coconut water, birch water also contains compounds called saponins, which are said to have powerful cholesterol-reducing properties.
So what does that mean to me, a health conscious nutritarian? Well, first of all, I truly like the fact that my family and I can have a sweet guilt-free drink instead of a sweet fruit drink or a soft drink. Because let's face it that's at times what's your only other choice besides water! Now we have the option of the all-natural birch water that has nutrients are natural and not chemically produced. Yes, the birch water contain the sugar Xylitol, an all-natural sugar – not refined glucose or high fructose corn syrup like in most sweetened drinks. It does not have all the horrible effects that refined sugars have. No, it’s not going to be something we drink every day at home because we mostly just drink water as it is now. But you’ll certainly be able to find birch water as part of my pantry items, to bring out as a nice treat – that I can drink and serve with a clear conscience and still keep our healthy, natural lifestyle.
There are five different flavors of birch water that I found: the original, elderflower, raspberry, blueberry, and lime&ginger. According to the website www.sealandbirk.com, the added flavors are all natural. I prefer the original version for it soft and subtle flavor. I found the birch water in Choithrams on Al Wasl Rd at the price of 9.40 for one bottle 330ml or 11.5oz. You can find the birch water in many of the larger supermarkets in Dubai, and I've heard rumours that Organic Foods and Cafe will also have it on the shelves soon.
The Sealand Birk birch water that I bought has been flash-pasteurized for conservation, meaning treated with heat for a moment only. The flash-pasteurization does some degree of damage to the heat sensitive nutrients, especially vitamin C and enzymes and phytochemicals. A process that is not unique to the Sealand Birk birch water, but is pretty much used by all higher end brands when it comes to their non-raw drinks. Fortunately, Sealand Birk has a raw version of the drink entering the UAE market sometime soon. It will certainly be interesting to see where I will be able to get that – and at what price.
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