Estonian and Finnish towns recycle their Christmas trees into drinks

When Helsinki city took down its Christmas tree on the early morning of the second day of 2020, the founders of the Saaremaa-based drinks company, Lahhentagge, were picking up the branches.

Helsinki was the first of the four Baltic Sea coastal towns – alongside Loviisa in southern Finland and the Estonian towns of Pärnu and Kuressaare – whose trees will be recycled after their short stints on the main squares of the towns.

The tradition started last Christmas in Saaremaa, whose 17-metre Christmas tree was turned into the “Spruce and Cardamom” tonic water by Lahhentagge. The tonic won several awards over 2019, among them the most prominent Estonian food industry award, and is now on sale in five countries.

Helsinki Christmas tree will be recycled for tonic water. Photo: Peter Forsgard.

Spruce tonic

“I had been thinking about using the second-hand Christmas trees for our spruce tonic for quite a while, when I had the Eureka moment while standing in front of our town’s Christmas tree – it is big enough and stays outside in the cold, so it does not dry,” Maarit Pöör, the founder of Lahhentagge, said.

Three of the trees will make dedicated batches of the “Spruce and Cardamom” tonic soda, while Pärnu’s grey fir will become a different drink due to it different palate. The Saaremaa-based beverage company is one of only a few local tonic makers in Estonia.

“What we are essentially trying to do is to bottle up some of this Christmas magic and combine it with the historic zero-waste lifestyle of the islanders,” Pöör said.

“Taking into account the minerals and the vitamins you can find in a spruce tree, and the number of spruce trees that are cut every Christmas, this is a massive opportunity to change the world – one Christmas tree at a time,” she added.

Cover: A Christmas tree in Loviisa, Finland, being taken down. Photo: Arto Henrikson.

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