How to tap a birch tree

Master the art of tapping a birch tree for sap and you’ll be rewarded with a sweet, refreshing and 100% natural thirst-quencher

BIRCH SAP is nature’s medicine. It looks like water, but has a sweet, almost silky taste and a range of health benefits. And best of all, it’s easy to forage. So grab your billy can and track down a birch tree pronto!


  • 10mm drill
  • billy can
  • clean cloth
  • elastic band
  • a saw
  • a knife


Step 1
stage 1

First of all, identify your tree – a substantial birch is best but a sycamore tree will work as well. Then find a stick about 20mm in diameter and with a side-shoot that is about 5mm in diameter. Strip off all the bark, and trim the shoot to around 5-10mm. Make a point at one end of the stick, and smooth off the other end.

Step 2
stage 2

Drill a hole in the trunk of your chosen tree: a couple of inches ought to be sufficient (and you should soon see the drips of sap starting to come out of the hole). Put your stick into the hole with the trimmed side-shoot uppermost. The drips that come out of the hole will begin to trickle down the underside of the stick.

Step 3


Hang your billy can from the stick, using the trimmed shoot to stop it slipping. A clean cloth held in place with an elastic band or string prevents any insects or debris getting in and the sap will run straight through it and into your billy can. You can get up to a litre per hour when it is flowing at its best.

Step 4


When you have finished, knock the stick into the hole in the tree until it is firmly in and trim off the remainder so that you have plugged the hole and the stick is flush with the bark.

Step 5

stage 5

Drink up – no filtering or purifying needed! Or you can save it and brew up some birch sap beer or wine. Cheers!