Best water for tea


Made from leaves that have not been oxidized.

Re: Best water for tea

Postby Intuit » Sep 26th, '09, 19:19

For practical purposes of residential use, there is little difference if we use a common objective measure of water purity, electrical conductivity.

Membrane filtration varies according to the pore size. From wikipedia,
'Membrane pore sizes can vary from 0.1 to 5,000 nanometers (nm) depending on filter type. "Particle filtration" removes particles of 1,000 nm or larger. "Microfiltration" removes particles of 50 nm or larger. "Ultrafiltration" removes particles of roughly 3 nm or larger. "Nanofiltration" removes particles of 1 nm or larger.

Reverse osmosis is the finest class of pore size membrane filtration, employing special spiral-wound filters capableof removing particles as small as 0.2 nanometers. Because of the very small pore size, these systems are typically pressurized., whereas flat membranes are used for the larger pore size classes and may be gravity fed, although nanofilters may have very slow percolation rates.

Distilled water is degassed; it's not a good choice for drinking water.

In the lab and for industrial use, tap water is doubly-distilled and deionized, or is treated with a combination of ion exchange and RO units plus UV light sterilization.

Sometimes, both distillation and RO water treatment systems have pretreatment stages with particle filters to remove suspended (undissolved) particulates and multiple ion exchange cartridges employed where dissolved mineral concentration is high in feed water.
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Re: Best water for tea

Postby Seeker » Sep 26th, '09, 19:34

Intuit - nice! So very cool.

I very much appreciate your scientific, data-driven sharing on this
site.

You rock!

Thank you.

:wink:
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Re: Best water for tea

Postby Charlotte » Sep 26th, '09, 20:12

I spoke with a tea master today (One of 14 in the USA, how cool is that?) who suggested either Fiji or Mountain Valley water. She said the more alkaline the water, the better the tea. I just bought bottles of Fiji water, so I'll give it a run tomorrow and let you know.
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Re: Best water for tea

Postby Seeker » Sep 26th, '09, 20:16

Before I installed my RO system, Fiji was my favorite bottled water for tea!
:mrgreen:
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Re: Best water for tea

Postby Maitre_Tea » Sep 27th, '09, 01:07

This reminds me of a scene from one of my favorite classical Chinese novels, Dream of the Red Chamber:

So Miao Yu (a young nun) is preparing tea fir Bao Yu (the male protagonist) and his female entourage (cousins). After enjoying the tea Miao Yu explained that the water was collected from the first snowflakes to fall on the prune flower petals in January, and stored in underground in a clay container for three years...

When I was visiting Hangzhou last year I had their Long Jing, brewed with local water from Tiger Spring, which is regarded as the best water for Long Jing. Not sure if it's true...but the ambiance certainly made the tea taste better. Interestingly enough, Tiger Spring is the 3rd best source of water in China...but that's not saying much. If there aren't people throwing crap into the river you're already in the top ten.
Last edited by Maitre_Tea on Sep 27th, '09, 19:56, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Best water for tea

Postby Zanaspus » Sep 27th, '09, 19:53

My not so humble opinion; if you drink water and taste nothing but clean crisp (crisp is key here. Neither RO nor distilled will taste crisp) water, then this water will also make a good cup of tea to your taste. We could write a dissertation of what ought to be in or not be in the water and still be no closer to an answer, so this simple test has worked for me in my tea drinking life better than any other.
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What he said.

Postby Intuit » Sep 27th, '09, 20:58

Trace minerals impact a 'crisp' taste to water. You need a minimum for taste, otherwise the water is 'flat, lifeless'. Vendors that sell 'premium' bottled water may add back missing minerals after RO treatment to improve taste.

The lower the dissolved mineral content, the less buffering capacity present, and so that even very pure water can be modestly acidic. This is why you see recommendations slightly alkaline spring waters - they provide a modest neutralizing capacity for acidic components present in tea infusions.
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Re: Intuit's post

Postby iheartea » Sep 28th, '09, 02:30

[quote="Intuit"]Trace minerals impact a 'crisp' taste to water. You need a minimum for taste, otherwise the water is 'flat, lifeless'. Vendors that sell 'premium' bottled water may add back missing minerals after RO treatment to improve taste.

Intuit - What kind of water are you the most pleased with for drinking tea?
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Re: Best water for tea

Postby teaisme » Sep 28th, '09, 16:53

Ok after tinkering with what I have, I have managed to get the water at my new place acceptable for teas. Maybe this will help someone with a limited tap purification system who does not want to start using bottles or paying around 150-300 for a good system.

Here is what I did before : brita faucet mount water-> Pur pitcher -> kettle -> tea =tainted taste (especially after 1'st infusion but slightly noticeable during the first) , decent aroma, very limited future infusions, I would be happy to get a cup with a decent 2nd steep ) This was especially the case for different houjichas, still a bothersome problem for senchas/guricha , and slightly less for oolongs (green oolongs did ok in that water though, ie tgy)

Here is what I do now : Run cold unfiltered water on highest flow for a minute or two -> Brita filter turned on, decrease the flow of filtered water to the most minimal as possible so its just trickling out very slowly -> this water is trickling into a Pur water pitcher -> Let pitcher sit for as long as possible (usually for me around 3-10 hours) -> Boil water , but make sure once it starts boiling to let it boil for a minute or two = much better tea :o

Now my houjichas taste much better, with the exception of roasted kukicha which does taste much better compared to before, but is still slightly muted (esp the sweetness) (why is that anyone?)
My senchas taste like they should for at least the first 2-3 infusions. It still does seem to be weaker then it once was though once I go beyond number 2-3.
My oolongs are also much improved especially in taste, but once I get to later infusions around number 4-5 I can notice a weakness in flavour that wasn't there before at the old house.

I no longer have to use a ridiculous amount of leaf to get a good cup. I still use a little more though then I used to.
I have not narrowed down or eliminated any reasons though, the cause of the better water is still unknown to me. Was it the waiting, the extra boiling, the slower water flow from brita to pur, the flushing of tap water beforehand ? Maybe another day I will try to narrow it down.

In the old house all I used was a Pur pitcher with no waiting. The good old days.
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Re: Best water for tea

Postby Intuit » Sep 28th, '09, 17:35

>In the old house all I used was a Pur pitcher with no waiting. The good old days.

I said as much to Iheartea, in a PM. It was probably the best water quality out of a tap that I have encountered in living in 6 states: Alabama, Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan, Idaho and Washington.

Your tap filter cartridge may be exhausted. Mine lasts less than a week before it's useless for making tea. Way too high dissolved mineral load for the modest '3-stage' Pur filter. A two stage filter would probably be better for me, since there aren't parasites or undissolved particulates as it's groundwater. The heavy-handed chlorination problem waxes and wanes according to the dosing schedule; 7 out of 10 days, you don't smell or taste it at all.

If prolonged boiling improves the taste after using a tap and filtering carafe with extended degrassing time, you have dissolved organics issues, maybe due to public supply disinfection (chlorination/chloramine and their residuals).

If your house is old, there maybe problems with plumbing contamination.

Bite the bullet and buy bottled water.
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Re: Best water for tea

Postby teaisme » Sep 29th, '09, 13:32

Intuit wrote:>
Bite the bullet and buy bottled water.


Yeah I already have just to get a comparison of the tap vs bottle. Got some fiji even though there are mixed reviews on it, i've never tried it, and some 3l of glacier spring water , still can't find any poland spring though.
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Re: Best water for tea

Postby chrl42 » Sep 30th, '09, 01:23

1) (taken from Korean tea community) pH7 is halfway between acidic and alkalic, but using a filter will drop to 4.5~6, acidic. But no matter what water drunk, human body always keeps 7.34~7.45.

And what if boiling water? Boiled water just turns alkalic, because water (H2O) is normally partly ionic H3O+ and OH-. As temperature rises, turns more inonic, which means more OH-, so turns alkalic, so pH temp rises. Which means tea like Puerh (brewed over 100c) doesn't basically need alkalic water

2) (old Chinese custom) Back in China, there was 5-letter way to evaluate the quality of water, one of em was 'weight' - old Chinese considered 'light' water (less mineral) as the best water for tea. So 'snow water' (after melting) or today's distilled water..emperor Qianlong used coins to weigh waters from China's best wells - but this theory also differs by period (back in Tang/Song I believe they liked spring water from high up mountain best)

3) (my opinion) I personally like the taste brewed out of distilled water for Oolong and Puerh, while some taste of mineral with Green tea acceptible, just my opinion 8)
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Re: Best water for tea

Postby Zanaspus » Sep 30th, '09, 06:12

Intuit wrote:
Bite the bullet and buy bottled water.


If only it were that simple. I can speak to this one having worked for several years in the tropical fish industry and doing extensive testing of literally hundreds of brands of bottled water. I found that many of these were actually less desirable to drink than many municipal water sources.

The whole chlorine/chloramine issue is a red herring. Virtually no municipality adds chloramine anymore as it has carcinogenic links. As far as chlorine goes, the simple act of boiling removes 99.9% from any water source. If that tiny remainder is of concern to you, buy crystal sodium thiosulfate. A quarter pound of this should set you back less than $10 and last for the entirety of a lifetime for dechlorination of tap water.

I live in Columbus OH and quite like my tap water for tea brewing. If you decide to go the bottled water route, I highly advise getting a lab to test your brand extensively for a full list of trace elements in a bottle and consistency across bottles. Remember, Municipal tap is highly regulated, bottled, not so much.

This may sound excessive, especially coming from the ultimate wu wei/who cares guy such as myself. But believe me when I tell you, "Bottled water is about as far from the panacea that modern man makes it out to be as is humanly possible."
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Re: Best water for tea

Postby Intuit » Sep 30th, '09, 14:46

Sometimes, you don't have a choice. In my case, the options are either to buy a water softner or use an alternate water supply (bottled or bulk water, basically same thing).

Agreed, bottled waters are unregulated. USEPA and USFDA are having a bit of interagency chitchat on this regulatory lacking.

Agreed, you don't always* know what you're getting in bottled water. However, much of the bottled water peddled is treated tap water, as is the case for the bulk water I'm purchasing. From the label, I know the origin, bottler/distributor and can look up the city municipal water supply annual WQ reports (to USEPA, almost always available online).

*In fact, the bulk water source I'm using presently supplies considerably more information than my local municipal supply provides, mainly because the supplier is in CA, and their state water quality regs are stringent in comparison to WA State regs.

On chloramines:
technical stuff
http://www.lenntech.com/processes/disin ... amines.htm
USEPA basics page on chloramine, with many pdfs:
http://www.epa.gov/ogwdw000/disinfectio ... index.html

About me: former professor environmental engineering, specializing in water quality.
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Re: Best water for tea

Postby JBaymore » Sep 30th, '09, 19:46

Intuit wrote:About me: former professor environmental engineering, specializing in water quality.


AHA! That explains things. Thanks for the insight. :)

best,

...........john
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