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I embarked on my tea journey when I studied abroad in China in 2008 and traveled around Taiwan that summer. I'm here to share my experiences and offer my own opinion, advice, and comments on tea.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Water Quality

It's my firm belief that a tea tastes just as good (or badly) as the water the tea leaves are brewed with. I recall a particular moment in tea-history when I, having run out of bottled water, used plain old tap water to brew some Da Hong Pao. It was a bad idea as I noticed an "off" aroma wafting from the liquor, and as I took the teacup to my mouth I noticed a reflective film on top of the tea.

It was nasty.

I immediately threw away the brew and leaves, because I was so disgusted with the foul concoction. Luckily a few days after the incident my Brita filter finally arrived so I could go back to brewing tea. This should serve an important lesson in the role water plays.

Alot of other blogs have already chronicaled the advantages or disadvantages of using what kind of water, so I won't bother talking about that. I am, however, more interested in the more minute aspects of water. It's too expensive to buy imported water, so I want to see if I can "recreate" the different variables of water without having to pay the price.

Hard Water vs. Soft Water
Hard Water is usually better for oolong and black teas, whereas greens could benefit from softer water. There are water softeners out there that you can use to soften water. As a predominantly oolong drinker, I'm more interesting in making water harder.

Bamboo Charcoal
Bamboo charcoal provides a cheaper alternative to Brita filters for making water taste better; however, bamboo charcoal has the tendency to make water harder, so be careful when using this with green teas. But the harder water that results from using bamboo charcoal is favorable towards oolongs.

Gypsum Powder

This is gypsum powder, the stuff that you find in baby powder (I think) and in most chem laboratories. This stuff can also make water become harder, but I've only discussed this with some of my science-oriented friends. I don't know how much you would add, or where you can buy safe gypsum that could be consumable. When I return home I'll make sure to run some experiments to verify everything.

Ceramic Pot

In the same way that ceramic teapots affect the flavor of the tea, so can ceramic pots affect the taste of water. When I visited Yingge, Taiwan I came across Lin's Ceramic Studio. I saw some ceramic pots made out of purion, which the sales people said made the water taste better. Being a little skeptical I actually had a taste of the water and I can say it really made a tremendous difference. I would've bought the ceramic pot except that I had no space in my luggage. At home I boil water in a ceramic kettle like this one, and it really makes the tea taste better, especially with oolongs. I feel that the porous nature of the kettle enriches the water with various minerals that make the water taste better as well as harder at the same time.

That's right, a magnet. Now this comes from my mom, who passes her water through a magnetized filter, which somehow makes the water better for you. What does this do with tea? I frankly don't know. Tieguanyin has a magnetized Korean mug that is supposedly good for your health. Will it help tea taste better? Maybe. But when I go home I'll be eager to test this out. If it does make tea taste better then I'll have to apologize to my mom for making fun of her for "magnetizing" water.

1 comment:

tieguanyin said...

Do you have a picture of the magnetized filter? Sounds like an intriguing tool :)!