I was surprised to find out people think maple sap is yellow. I never really thought about it, but I happened to see “maple water” for sale at a market. Clear liquid in a clear glass bottle. The ingredients were 100% maple sap … so I knew it was clear before I’d even thought to wonder. I’ve seen sap with a slightly yellow tint. We pull the taps as the tree leaves begin to bud, so it is possible the sap yellows more throughout the year. But maple sap is clear.
As it is boiled, the sap begins to caramelize. Caramelization is what gives maple syrup a golden brown color – darker syrup is formed from sap harvested later in the year. Lighter syrup is from sap harvested earlier in the year.
As the sap boils down, the color will get darker and the flavor will get sweeter and, well, maple-ier.