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Tea 101 - Water Quality

Quality Water for Tea
Quality Water for Tea

An interesting aspect that most people do not think about when preparing tea has to do with the most essential ingredient: water.  It makes sense, water is about 98% of tea and in order to get the most out of your tea it deserves the type of water quality that will bring out the best in your tea.  There was a Chinese scholar by the name Lu Yu who wrote an entire book concerning the water selection for tea.  He claimed that water that came from stony lakes (acting as a natural filter), milky white streams or the middle of slow-flowing streams were some of the best sources of water to make good tea.

According to some sources, you should not use distilled water.  You need water that still has minerals that can react with the teas and thus enhance the tea-drinking experience.  The best way to get the water you want is by using a Brita or Pur filter; this takes out the chlorine that’s in water while still maintaining most of its natural minerals.  It also rids the water of most of its TDS (Total Dissolved Solids).  However, if you must buy bottled water, then find spring water with a pH of 7 and TDS of 30 ppm or below.  Frankly, I’d stick with a filter; it’s more cost effective considering how much tea I drink.  You can also tell that you have hard water when you find a film of oil floating on the surface of your pot or cup due to the Flavanoids in the tea interacting with the calcium hydroxide in the water.

When brewing tea the temperature and steep time is also important.  Go for a digital handheld thermometer to get an exact reading.  Depending on the type of tea you are brewing determines the temperature for steeping.

On the other hand, once you’ve boiled water for tea, do not reuse it.  According to tea scholar Wen Zhen, oxygen is released when water is boiled.  This makes the water ‘tough’, losing its essence, unable to bring out the best in tea if it has been boiled too many times.

Also, if you have standing water, it can absorb odors.  These odors can and will affect the flavor of your tea.  Therefore, just use fresh water every time you want to brew tea.  When in doubt, throw it out!

Who would have thought that water could be so complicated?  But when you think about it, brewing tea is like cooking a gourmet meal: you want the best ingredients to bring out the best flavor of your dish.  This is the same with tea…except that the only other ingredient is the water!

What do you think, dear readers? Did you find this helpful?