I didn't get things set until this past week and missed the first rare warm week. The next warm period I was ready, but dog gone it all, I got distracted, and caramelized the very first batch. Think dark caramel burnt sweetness. I did manage to pull a tumbler of hot broth and make tea before I became distracted though, and it was good.
The past few days got just warm enough I filled a two gallon pail 3/4 full of sap. WOW. The sugar content is much higher this mid-winter tap off than last spring was. The taste is almost like sweet warm butter. Very, very rich in flavor. You sure can't get anything this good off a store shelf.
This year I did something different and its really worked out well so far. I bought gray plastic hose barbs and clear plastic water line from Menards. The hose barbs are 1/2" ID and the hose is 5/8" ID. The plastic walls on the hose barbs make the outer diameter 5/8" and there is no way I'd ever mate 1/2" hose and half inch barbs. The first tree hose barb is a 99* and starts the run around the tree. The next two are 180* Ts and short lengths of hose link them all together going around the tree. Last hose is a 20' line that runs to the house. It's suspended from the dog run for a down hill slope.
To drain my sap from the collection bucket, I just wheel out the door, and the bucket is right there at the corner of my ramp by the door. Gravity is my friend. Last year, I flipped the chair in the yard, I spilled buckets of sap, and rain ruined a couple of collections, just no fun, but lots of YUM. This year both FUN and YUM! I bet I could get hooked on this stuff. Withdrawal will be pain.