For the love of Cork
Cork needs time to grow... A lot of time. And love too!
A Cork Oak Tree can live up to 200 years and, during her lifetime, she gives this beautiful material named cork around 15 times.
But, after being planted, it takes 61 years to have the right type of cork to produce our products as they are ethically sourced and exclusively made in Portugal. Ready to set the timer?
The Cork Oak Tree can only be harvested for the first time when she reaches 25 years, at least. Her trunk needs to have a circumference of around 70 centimeters, measured at a high of 1.3 meters from the ground level.
After waiting for this period of time, the tree gives the first piece of cork! However, this so-called virgin cork from the first harvest has a quite irregular structure and a lower quality, so it can only be used as a material for flooring and insulation.
So, we need to wait a little more…
To give such precious material, the tree needs time to regenerate and to grow. In Portugal, the harvest period can only happen every 9 or more years, to make sure the tree is ready to release her bark. But how do we know if the tree is ready or not?
Well, we need to ask her! When the harvester is ready to remove the bark, he asks the tree in Portuguese: “A cortiça está a dar bem?” [Is Cork doing well?], then he pauses and listens... While some parts seem to be fully prepared, others may need a little more time.
Sometimes, the trunk is infected and the bark can only be retrieved in the next upcoming season. But the parts that are ready to go can now be retrieved! However, this second round of cork is still not suitable to produce our products...
Wanna guess how much time we need to keep patiently waiting?
It typically takes a Cork Oak Tree 3 or more harvest seasons to start producing the quality of cork necessary for Corc Yoga’s products. It is quite impressive, right?
But the best part is the fact that this giving tree feels so appreciated for us humans to have waited for her, that from this moment on, she will give cork every 9 years, in the next 150 years!
After each harvest, the tree is marked with the last number of the current year. It is also important to highlight that the success of each harvest depends on the highly skilled workers of this industry. In fact, Portugal carefully regulates this industry to protect the integrity of the environment while creating high-wage seasonal jobs for more than 10,000 workers, annually. At Corc Yoga, we only source and partner with small family-owned cork farms and factories, and our products are exclusively made in Portugal.
A lot of knowledge, experience, and a special axe is needed to remove the large cork planks without hurting the tree and damaging the quality of the material itself. This process happens from May until August.
All cork planks are then stacked and stored in the open air for a minimum of 6 months. This allows the material to mature and stabilize before beginning the production process...
But that is a story for another day!
Until then, follow the example of the Cork Oak Tree and take time for yourself and breathe.