Co-founder Clara Vaisse said the startup had refined a preservation process – the precise details are secret – that makes its organic birch water more stable, and extends its natural shelf life of 4-5 days.
Sibberi has pencilled in a December 2014 launch date for the drink online, and says it will hit UK store shelves early next year.
“That’s the challenge with birch water,” she said. “It’s really hard to preserve it for longer than 4-5 days. We’ve looked at many different techniques, but this is our secret at the moment.”
“It’s 100% natural. Basically you have a water that is processed by nature. You don’t need to process it in a factory. The tree filters it, adds vitamins, nutrients, minerals to it, and a few magic other things.” (Clara Vaisse, co-founder, Sibberi)
“Existing brands in Northern and Eastern Europe add significant amounts of sugar to preserve the product, about a teaspoon per bottle,” Vaisse added.
“We think that defeats the purpose of being healthy and detoxifying, and worked hard to find a way to preserve it without adding any sugar. That’s what makes our birch water unique.”
As for the appeal of birch water generally, Vaisse said: “It’s 100% natural. Basically you have a water that is processed by nature. You don’t need to process it in a factory. The tree filters it, adds vitamins, nutrients, minerals to it, and a few magic other things.”
As a naturally healthy drink, Vaisse said she sees Sibberi’s birch water positioned right between coconut water and detox juice, as “an everyday drink to keep healthy and to help eliminate toxins”.
“It’s a drink that you can really drink guilt-free – it’s extremely low calorie, and the sugar in it is predominately fructose (not glucose), and xylitol,” she said.
The birch tree: a natural beverage factory
Sibberi’s organic birch water is tapped from trees in Eastern Europe (as per the photo below, taken in Latvia), and Vaisse explained that when the snow melts away in the spring, the birch tree sap starts to flow.
You tap the tree, and after placing a bag underneath can collect 5-10 liters of birch sap each day; but this period only lasts for 2-3 weeks every year – after that the tree sap thickens again and cannot be drawn.
Asked who she thinks birch water will appeal to, Vaisse admits that the drink sounds alien to the average woman or man on the street, but believes it has premium, niche appeal.
“We get a bit of a mixed reaction. Some say ‘It seems crazy to drink water tapped from the trunk of a tree.' Other people have heard of birch juice (derived from the leaves, which you find in pharmacies), so are welcoming the sap version,” she said.
'The market is ready for something new' - Sibberi
“But everyone is really excited about the product – they think the market is ready and everyone is waiting for something new, after coconut water,” Vaisse added.
“We will start pretty premium. But other brands have started premium, and we hope the product can spread throughout the UK,” she said.
“It’s such an elegant way to hydrate, and it’s so good for you – it would be our hope and dream to see birch water at every corner shop and niche supermarket, but it will remain rather premium.”
Google ‘birch water’ and you’ll find an army of fans eulogizing the drink as a cure all – good at treating everything from liver disease to dandruff, constipation to cellulite.
But Vaisse insists that Sibberi’s focus is on creating natural, healthy and tasty products with ingredients that speak for themselves.
“We don’t want to make any claims. The claims lie in the product. So, for instance, there is xylitol – a sugar that’s known to help with tooth decay,” she said.