Is my water good?


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Is my water good?

Postby eugene_b » Jan 2nd, '12, 13:39

Hi everyone,

I've moved to a new place and I am having some troubles with tea. No matter how hard I try, I can't get a good cup :( This varies from tea to tea but is extremely noticable for green teas. However green oolongs and even some darker teas suffer too. I am actively looking for the source of problem right now and number one suspect is water.

I've tried to google and found the info from the local water companies. The problem is that I can't evaluate that info (I do lack tea-education when it comes to water). Could someone who understands technical parameters used to describe water look through the tables and let me know if there is some parameter that is completely unacceptable for tea

This is my city (water data is on page 4)
http://www.rensselaerny.gov/Libraries/W ... .sflb.ashx

And this is local larger city from where my city seems to buy water, they have more data (page 4)
http://troyny.gov/public_utilities/AWQR2010.pdf

On a side note, if you also could give me some serious articles about which parameters I should look for (in case I'll go for bottled water), I'd highly appreciate that!
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Re: Is my water good?

Postby Akuma37 » Jan 2nd, '12, 15:11

Have you tried making tea with water from elsewhere? (like bottled spring water)
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Re: Is my water good?

Postby eugene_b » Jan 2nd, '12, 15:26

Not yet, but that's on my todo list :) I'll get bottled water within next few days when I shop for food.
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Re: Is my water good?

Postby Tead Off » Jan 2nd, '12, 22:57

eugene_b wrote:Not yet, but that's on my todo list :) I'll get bottled water within next few days when I shop for food.

The charts you give show that there are no violations as far as contaminants go. They don't give you the mineral breakdown such as Calcium, Magnesium, etc. and the TDS (total dissolved solids) of the water. It does show high ph which to me is a good thing.

Do you filter your water or take it straight from the tap?

Try to find a bottled mineral water with at least a ph of 7 and a TDS count of more than 250. Your green tea should improve dramatically and if it doesn't, it is probably the way you are brewing tea.
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Re: Is my water good?

Postby Chip » Jan 2nd, '12, 23:41

If bottled water and purifying your own is not an option ... a simple way to dechlorinate tap water is to leave it out for a day. Chlorine evaporates pretty quickly.

I think the worst thing for tea when using tap water is chorine. I only read some of the article, but seems they are trying to reduce chorine levels by adding Potassium permanganate.

Oh, then there is flourine.
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Re: Is my water good?

Postby eugene_b » Jan 3rd, '12, 00:02

I've returned from a shop with poland spring water. They don't list water properties on the bottle but according to their website, ph should be 6 and TDS 40. The taste of the tea did improve noticeably. During several next days I'll use it to experiment with several other teas to see if it works for them too.

Yup, I am not filtering water, I am using it directly from the tap. I'll try the trick with letting it sit for a day or two and will see if that works. Also I am considering to get the filter from adaigo but at this point I don't know if it's going to work (i.e. if the problem with my water is fixable by that filter) and also I am not sure if it will be much cheaper than getting bottled water.

So basically I should be looking for water with a ph>7 and TDS>250? Will that work for all teas or just for greens? Because greens are only part of the problem, yesterday this tap water completely messed up my agred pu.
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Re: Is my water good?

Postby AdamMY » Jan 3rd, '12, 00:03

I know fluoride is used quite often in dental products, and added to water to promote healthy teeth. Its use has always scared me ever since I used to work for a Water and Sewer District as a laborer. One of the jobs I was given one winter was to clean and repaint a bunch of pipes in the old well house, where the chemicals used to be added to the water. The valve which would insert the fluoride was slightly leaky, and in solid cast iron pipe the little bit of leaking fluoride had pitted the pipe at least half a centimeter thick.

Not to mention the stuff at the levels it is in your water is not bad at all, but one thing I learned a few times we had to work directly with the chemical parts when we were assisting people who were trained to deal with them, is if you got either the near pure chloride or fluoride on your self, you wanted to wash it off instantly. I once got a few drops on my shirt, and I did not realize it. Within half an hour my black shirt had been bleached, and by the end of the day it had completely eaten away at those fabrics and all that was left were little holes.
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Re: Is my water good?

Postby Tead Off » Jan 3rd, '12, 03:17

eugene_b wrote:I've returned from a shop with poland spring water. They don't list water properties on the bottle but according to their website, ph should be 6 and TDS 40. The taste of the tea did improve noticeably. During several next days I'll use it to experiment with several other teas to see if it works for them too.

Yup, I am not filtering water, I am using it directly from the tap. I'll try the trick with letting it sit for a day or two and will see if that works. Also I am considering to get the filter from adaigo but at this point I don't know if it's going to work (i.e. if the problem with my water is fixable by that filter) and also I am not sure if it will be much cheaper than getting bottled water.

So basically I should be looking for water with a ph>7 and TDS>250? Will that work for all teas or just for greens? Because greens are only part of the problem, yesterday this tap water completely messed up my agred pu.

You will have to experiment and see what tastes best for you. I am using a mineral water with a ph between 7-7.3 and TDS of more than 250. Actually, I use 2 different waters. The main difference is one of them has a much higher calcium content and this seems to make the green teas sing. They are both softer waters. I like this higher calcium water for all of my teas but with greens you really notice it.
Generally, I don't think it is advisable to drink water with a ph of 6. It won't kill you but from my own experience, higher ph is better and studies say healthier as minerals are more readily absorbed.
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Re: Is my water good?

Postby FlyedPiper » Jan 4th, '12, 17:06

I'm no scientist when it comes to water, nor do I care to be, but I solved my water issues with a Brita pitcher. I will admit the first 30 or so pitchers have that "ultra clean" activated charcoal taste (and I run 10-15 pitchers through and discard the water to "season" a new cartridge for that reason), but after that it's smooth sailing for a couple of months until I notice calcium deposit floaties in my kettle, then I replace it.

I've tried a few different options, from the dispensers at the store (expensive and too flat) to spring water jugs (way too expensive and too minerally). I think the Brita system is a good option unless you live on a farm and have well water or your city water is fantastic (I have a friend in Traverse City, MI and when I go there I use his water straight from the tap- I even bring a couple jugs home with me if I remember- it makes great tea).
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Re: Is my water good?

Postby eugene_b » Jan 7th, '12, 22:10

Hello everyone!

Thanks for your answers and sorry for not writing back for some time, I've been experimenting with water :)

I think I am starting to feel the difference between waters and how that affects tea. I am only starting to learn this though. So by now the waters I've tried are:

- tap water: not completely horrible, it can be enjoyed with some black teas but it ruins greener ones (and sometimes dark teas too). The tea has some lingering weird taste that is present in every cup of tea no matter what you brew, green oolong or aged pu.

- filtered tap water (it turns out our refrigerator has a water filter :D ) : the strange bad taste is gone...but the tea taste is gone too. The tea has some slight sweetness and taste that can be enjoyed but generally it is very flat.

- Poland spring
http://mineralwaters.org/index.php?func ... arval=1982
Same as the above, very flat cup of tea, almost no taste.

- Fiji
http://mineralwaters.org/index.php?func=disp&parval=957
I've had only one gongfu with it but so far I like it a lot. The price is a bit expensive though so I am not sure it is a good long term solution.

- Vermont Pure
http://mineralwaters.org/index.php?func ... arval=2700
This water we have at work and I brewed a lot of good cups with it. The only problem is that at work I generally brew western style and usually stay away from green stuff. So what I am really interested in is getting this water home and testing it with gongfu. I also don't know exact pricing yet but judging by approximate estimates my coworkers were able to give me, this water will make a good long term solutions.

What do you think about the parameters of this last water? Does it look good or do some parameter look very bad and I should keep looking?
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Re: Is my water good?

Postby eugene_b » Jan 7th, '12, 22:49

Oh and also: taking into account that the fridge water filter resulted in a bad (flat) cup of tea, should I still consider adagio filter? I.e. do they all function approximately the same or is it possible that adagio's filter will result in a good cup of tea?
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Re: Is my water good?

Postby Akuma37 » Apr 21st, '12, 13:12

eugene_b wrote:Oh and also: taking into account that the fridge water filter resulted in a bad (flat) cup of tea, should I still consider adagio filter? I.e. do they all function approximately the same or is it possible that adagio's filter will result in a good cup of tea?


Hey eugene_b, did you ever figure out your water situation? What's working for you these days?
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Re: Is my water good?

Postby mbanu » Apr 21st, '12, 17:42

Just a point of clarification, water with a high TDS is generally "hard" water...

Hard water tends to trap many flavors inside a tea. This can be both good and bad. When you have a truly high quality tea, soft water will allow its flavors to shine. However, it also will highlight any flaws in a tea or in the brewing method. Not all flavors seem to be equally trapped by hard water. I don't really understand the mechanism behind this. However, I have had some banchas that I thought were pretty hopeless suddenly come to life in hard water.

There is some disagreement here between modern and ancient sources.

Many of the ancient tea texts recommend water from sources that must have a high TDS, such as Lu Yu's recommendation of water from stalactite springs. On the other hand, the way that Lu Yu drunk tea was very different than today; in his day, you would take a tea cake (perhaps something akin to an unaged pu-erh cake), break off a piece, roast it, then grind the tea into a powder and drink it like matcha. Given the abuse the tea went though, I would not be surprised if it did better in hard water. :D
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Re: Is my water good?

Postby Tead Off » Apr 22nd, '12, 07:53

mbanu wrote:Just a point of clarification, water with a high TDS is generally "hard" water...:D


I'm not sure about what you are stating here. I tend to use high TDS mineral water for both tea and cooking, about 7.2ph. I wouldn't characterize this water as hard. In fact, the mouthfeel is quite smooth and soft as compared to my tap which I would characterize as hard. So, what constitutes hard for you?
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Re: Is my water good?

Postby mbanu » Apr 22nd, '12, 09:37

By "hard water", I mean a water that has a high concentration of minerals in it, particularly magnesium and calcium. Generally water high in dissolved minerals (Total Dissolved Solids) is "hard". A water with few dissolved minerals is "soft".

The terms "hard water" and "soft water" go back over 300 years, but I am not entirely sure why they are called by those names. :)

(There is an exception, which is water high in sodium or potassium. This water will "act" like a soft water in certain circumstances (like in making soap lather), but is high in dissolved minerals like a hard water. There are a few places that have water like this naturally, but generally this type of water is called "artificially softened" water. I'm not sure how it compares in tea making to true soft water. )
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