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Birch Tree sap harvesting in Chambord, France

Every year, the forestry workers of the Domaine National de Chambord in the Loire Valley, France, harvest birch water from the sap of the Birch Tree. The Silver Birch Tree (Betula pendula) is a flowering, deciduous, hardwood tree in the Betulaceae family.

Photo: Chambord Castle

The forest is part of the Château de Chambord – the Chambord Castle – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The castle was built from 1519 to 1547 by the King Francois I of France (1494-1547). In 1821, it became the private estate of Henri, the Count of Chambord (1820-1883). The French State bought it in 1930. It was the inspiration for the 1991 Walt Disney film Beauty and the Beast.

The Silver Birch Tree is harvested for about three weeks from February to March during the weeks of the ascending moon, before the appearance of the first buds of spring. This is a critical period – after the first buds, it is no longer edible.

Photo: Chambord Castle

On a slightly sloping plot, there are 3.4 kilometres (2 miles) of sap pipes to connect 692 Silver Birch Trees to a main line. The main line takes the natural sap (liquid from the tree bark) to a tank via a pump system. 

Chambord Castle made its first birch sap harvest in 2019. The forestry workers harvested this batch manually from 400 Silver Birch Trees. In 2021, sap harvesting became more professional through the installation of pipes, which is less intrusive for the trees and more efficient for the workers. In 2021, they harvested 13,500 litres (28,500 pints) of birch sap.

Birch sap is also known as ‘the sap with a thousand virtues.’ It is rich in mineral salts (potassium sodium, calcium, and magnesium) and trace elements (zinc, silicon, and flavonoid), and its filtered plant acids are beneficial for detoxing – draining and purifying the body. 

The French maintain that birch water – from the sap – is ideally consumed at the change of seasons, as a health remedy, especially at the end of winter and going into spring. 

Chambord Castle produces and sells it commercially from their shop and online store. Their Chambord birch water is 99% organic, natural birch sap and 1% pure organic lime juice. 

A 250 ml bottle (half a pint, or one cup) contains the following:

Caloric value: 12.5 kcal

Energy value: 52.5 kJ

Protein: 0 g

Carbohydrates: 2.3 g

Fat: 1.3 g

Fibre: 0 g

Calcium: 13.3 mg

Potassium: 30 mg

Sodium: 0 g

As Léonard de Vinci said, “Water is the driving force of all nature.” 

Photo: Chambord Castle

[Note: I purchase products from Chambord Castle but I have no connection with them, nor am I sponsored by them.]

Photographer: Martina Nicolls;

Photos of the birch harvesting are from the Château de Chambord website

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