Water for Tea


One of the intentionally aged teas, Pu-Erh has a loyal following.

Re: Water for Tea

Postby TwoDog2 » Jul 30th, '12, 23:36

needaTEAcher wrote: These monks or hermits probably existed somehow in some say, though not in the ways they are often portrayed (stereotypes and myths usually come from somewhere, somehow). America doesn't equal milkshakes and Christianity, but both exist strongly in American culture, don't they? Isn't the truth usually somewhere between the extremes?

Like MarshalN said earlier:
[ quote="MarshalN"]It's like reducing the US to rangers and cowboys, pioneers and pilgrims. Yes, they were part of the picture, but that's not exactly accurate.

Not accurate as a whole, but certainly an existant part!



Fair point, I just don't like the idea of them being joined at the hip
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Re: Water for Tea

Postby needaTEAcher » Jul 31st, '12, 00:22

I completely agree with what MarshalN said, as well as TwoDog2.

Sorry for the sloppy quoting. :oops:
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Re: Water for Tea

Postby yanom » Jul 31st, '12, 00:33

I must admit I find some of the mystical stuff about tea hilarious! But I also think the main error might be that people get the sequence the wrong way around.

The process of calmly preparing and drinking a warm drink which contains certain chemicals: this combines to alter one's mood slightly. As does (in a different way) sitting in a pub drinking beer and chatting with friends.

The fact that the 'quiet-moment' qualities of drinking tea lend themselves towards meditation or contemplation makes it an obvious tool for people who want to meditate or contemplate. Or, indeed, to accompany study. Or many other things. But the 'magical' properties of tea are actually the way tea is used by certain people.

There's nothing inherently "sleepy" or "sexy" about a bed: it's what it is used for by people that is important.

That said, it has been proven that tea does have super-magic powers, in this very accurate and scientific book: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asterix_in_Britain.
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Re: Water for Tea

Postby theredbaron » Aug 1st, '12, 10:57

An interesting discussion, which inspired me to become a member here (hello, folks :wink: ).

The original question regarding water - tap water is death for good tea, and filtered water is often not much better. Spring water is supposed to be best, especially when from a source close to the the tea plantation. But not all spring water is good for tea. Spring water from the alps, for example, is excellent water to drink, but far too hard for tea.
Friends from Malaysia found very good spring water from Ipoh, but where i live - in Bangkok - there is no spring anywhere close. I use bottled water - the already mentioned Volvic, and the even slightly better and more expensive "Fiji" water, an artesian water from Fiji (which i discovered when during the recent floods here Volvic and most other bottles waters disappeared from the shelves).
Why would i spend much money on great teas, and then save at the second most important ingredient for a good cup of tea? Beats me...

Spirituality and tea...very interesting views here.
For most tea drinkers, including and especially Chinese as well, tea is nothing but "pouring hot water on a plant", and always has been so. While i agree that evocations of hermits and sages is mostly hyperbole, it is though not so just done for westerners with romantic sentiments towards an Asia that never really existed, but also very much for Chinese themselves (though somewhat more garish, and mostly mixed with quite unbearable nationalism). Commercialism is not just a "western" prerogative. Regarding tea, one should look at Ten Ren (3 days courses after which one becomes a certified "tea expert"...), new inventions of utensils that a tea drinker must have, cluttering the table with lots of useless but for the shops profitable stuff, etc...
Hording of good teas and older Yixing pots increased prices way beyond the average tea lovers purse. Also going to the tea plantations can be a rather sobering experience - not much tea wisdom there - but business, fake teas and much stress - a mostly very annoying experience.

But - fortunately this is not all there is. I remember, when in '94 or '95 i went on my second trip to the Wu Yi mountains, i was quite appalled about the ever-present harassment of the business. But walking a while away from the hordes, i came across a tea farmer tending his garden, and he invited me to drink some of his teas. This became a memorable tea experience, and even though having no common language we still had a great conversation.

I am somewhat lucky, i have since '97 as a teacher a great tea master. He is a somewhat modern day Taoist hermit, just that his cave is a small flat in a suburban residential tower of a large Asian city, and his daily pilgrimages to the tea scene of the town. He lives tea spirituality, though mostly in jeans and T-shirt.

Tea is what one makes out of it, if it is "pouring hot water on a plant" - fine. If it is a vehicle for contemplation, or even meditation for one who is inclined so, fine.

I don't really fall for 19th century romanticism anymore (half a life in Asia can do that to you :wink: ), meditation and all that is not for me, but drinking tea is for me an almost spiritual experience - it calms me, helps me to cope with stuff, and is a short holiday from the grind. I dearly love the few older Yixing pots and Qing cups i have collected over the years, my growing Pu Erh collection i have been aging over the past decade and more, and my wonderful Wu Yi teas.
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Re: Water for Tea

Postby needaTEAcher » Aug 1st, '12, 11:32

theredbaron wrote:...Commercialism is not just a "western" prerogative...Also going to the tea plantations can be a rather sobering experience - not much tea wisdom there - but business, fake teas and much stress - a mostly very annoying experience.
...
I am somewhat lucky, i have since '97 as a teacher a great tea master. He is a somewhat modern day Taoist hermit, just that his cave is a small flat in a suburban residential tower of a large Asian city, and his daily pilgrimages to the tea scene of the town. He lives tea spirituality, though mostly in jeans and T-shirt.

Tea is what one makes out of it, if it is "pouring hot water on a plant" - fine. If it is a vehicle for contemplation, or even meditation for one who is inclined so, fine.

I don't really fall for 19th century romanticism anymore (half a life in Asia can do that to you :wink: ), meditation and all that is not for me, but drinking tea is for me an almost spiritual experience - it calms me, helps me to cope with stuff, and is a short holiday from the grind. I dearly love the few older Yixing pots and Qing cups i have collected over the years, my growing Pu Erh collection i have been aging over the past decade and more, and my wonderful Wu Yi teas.


Welcome! Thanks for jumping in. That first bit, about plantations, really sums up my trip to India (unfortunately). It was disappointing in many ways, though my time in Nepal more than made up for it.

As per the bit about your teacher, he sounds great. I wish I could have met him when I was in Bangkok in April. I love your philosophy, and I put my full vote behind your eloquent articulation!!!

Also, I just can't get enough puerh or Wu Yi teas. :lol:
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Re: Water for Tea

Postby sriracha » Aug 1st, '12, 11:44

theredbaron wrote:Why would i spend much money on great teas, and then save at the second most important ingredient for a good cup of tea? Beats me...


Well-and I say this in the friendliest way possible-I use tap because it's the most environmentally friendly. =)

Of course, you may live where it's just not possible...and I don't judge anyone's choices. But I am fine with tap. Welcome to the forums!
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Re: Water for Tea

Postby theredbaron » Aug 1st, '12, 12:22

needaTEAcher wrote:
Welcome! Thanks for jumping in. That first bit, about plantations, really sums up my trip to India (unfortunately). It was disappointing in many ways, though my time in Nepal more than made up for it.

As per the bit about your teacher, he sounds great. I wish I could have met him when I was in Bangkok in April. I love your philosophy, and I put my full vote behind your eloquent articulation!!!

Also, I just can't get enough puerh or Wu Yi teas. :lol:


Thanks a lot :)

Unfortunately though my teacher does not live in Thailand. Nowadays i see him much less than i would wish. Bangkok in tea terms is not exactly inspiring, to stay diplomatic. In China town you get mostly over-roasted Wu Yi teas, there is one shop in Bangkok that does a bit of more modern tea art, but its teas are not very good. Most here that are into tea are old Thai Chinese that only drink either their tea from their home villages in Shantou or those overroasted Wu Yi teas, or are unbearable snobs of the moneyed classes - a far cry from the vibrant tea scene in neighboring Malaysia.

But - the climate for storing Pu Erh is awesome!
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Re: Water for Tea

Postby theredbaron » Aug 1st, '12, 13:00

sriracha wrote:
theredbaron wrote:Why would i spend much money on great teas, and then save at the second most important ingredient for a good cup of tea? Beats me...


Well-and I say this in the friendliest way possible-I use tap because it's the most environmentally friendly. =)

Of course, you may live where it's just not possible...and I don't judge anyone's choices. But I am fine with tap. Welcome to the forums!


In most parts of the world tap water went through industrial water purification plants, runs through public water pipes, and then through private pipes often of dubious material, and is regularly loaded with chlorine.
In some parts of the world this is alright for consumption (though i would not advise to do this where i live unless you really have to - the brown soup, for example, that came through the pipes during the floods was quite telling, regarding how well purification works here...).

To appreciate top quality teas you need very good water suitable to bring out the best in those teas, otherwise it is a waste of money to buy such expensive and rare teas, and one may be better off with teas designed for low quality water, such as supermarket brands of Ceylonese, Indonesian, and Indian industrial plantation teas.

When you have a fine all the way hand processed Wu Yi tea of a small plot that may get only a few kilos harvest a year, water quality makes a world of difference, more so even than the quality of your pot and cups (which with those teas makes also quite a significant difference).

I am all for environment friendly - but when it comes to my teas i am primarily tea friendly.
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Re: Water for Tea

Postby sriracha » Aug 1st, '12, 13:22

theredbaron wrote:
sriracha wrote:
theredbaron wrote:Why would i spend much money on great teas, and then save at the second most important ingredient for a good cup of tea? Beats me...


Well-and I say this in the friendliest way possible-I use tap because it's the most environmentally friendly. =)

Of course, you may live where it's just not possible...and I don't judge anyone's choices. But I am fine with tap. Welcome to the forums!


In most parts of the world tap water went through industrial water purification plants, runs through public water pipes, and then through private pipes often of dubious material, and is regularly loaded with chlorine.
In some parts of the world this is alright for consumption (though i would not advise to do this where i live unless you really have to - the brown soup, for example, that came through the pipes during the floods was quite telling, regarding how well purification works here...).

To appreciate top quality teas you need very good water suitable to bring out the best in those teas, otherwise it is a waste of money to buy such expensive and rare teas, and one may be better off with teas designed for low quality water, such as supermarket brands of Ceylonese, Indonesian, and Indian industrial plantation teas.

When you have a fine all the way hand processed Wu Yi tea of a small plot that may get only a few kilos harvest a year, water quality makes a world of difference, more so even than the quality of your pot and cups (which with those teas makes also quite a significant difference).

I am all for environment friendly - but when it comes to my teas i am primarily tea friendly.



I agree water is important, I just made a conscious choice. =)

Also, still bottled water doesn't have a huge market share here so there are few choices. Two of which I don't even like straight.

What's an average price for bottled water in Bangkok?
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Re: Water for Tea

Postby theredbaron » Aug 1st, '12, 13:35

sriracha wrote:
theredbaron wrote:
sriracha wrote:

I agree water is important, I just made a conscious choice. =)

Also, still bottled water doesn't have a huge market share here so there are few choices. Two of which I don't even like straight.

What's an average price for bottled water in Bangkok?


Most people who can afford it here get water delivered on a weekly basis in large 20 liter drums, for about 1.80 US$ (the drums are re-used). We use about 3 to 4 drums a week, for drinking and cooking (depending on the season - in the hot season more than in the cool season). Others buy filters, for about 40 US$ for the cheapest ones. Then you get in many neighborhoods machines for filtered water, for about 25 cent per 5 liters.
Of course the bottled water market is huge here, an almost endless amount of brands, from very cheap to vastly expensive Italian and French brands.
Volvic costs about 2 US$ per 1.5 liters, and Fiji 2 US$ per liter.
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Re: Water for Tea

Postby AdamMY » Aug 1st, '12, 13:54

Granted I do not know how things work in Bangkok, and likely if I were in a lost of places in South East Asia I would also be suspect of the water. But as I live in the United states, and having had worked for a Water and Sewer district, I do know a little bit about what regulations the United States has on their public water supplies.

Yes, Chlorine is added, and sometimes a few other things too, such as Flouride is not unusual to be added, and depending on the district and the water supply there could be a chemical added to adjust the pH. While the second two chemicals are added at an incredibly minimal level, I am talking about 5 parts per million or less.

Chlorine needs to be added to municipal water supplies to avoid harmful bacterial growth, and also to avoid things such as algae from growing in the pipes. But for those who are chemically incline the Chlorine slowly works its way out of the water, and basically once the water is boiled the chlorine is essentially completely gone from the water. As for things being picked up from pipes, sadly that is something I deal with in my current location, every once and awhile my water will be temporarily stained brown from an excess iron content ( has to do with where my city gets its water).

But I know in the US tests need to be run on water from basically all parts of the system ( including getting people out the outer edges of the system to fill a sample bottle), which is tested for things such as Chlorine level, and for harmful chemicals picked up from the pipes.
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Re: Water for Tea

Postby sriracha » Aug 1st, '12, 14:11

theredbaron wrote:
sriracha wrote:
theredbaron wrote:
sriracha wrote:

I agree water is important, I just made a conscious choice. =)

Also, still bottled water doesn't have a huge market share here so there are few choices. Two of which I don't even like straight.

What's an average price for bottled water in Bangkok?


Most people who can afford it here get water delivered on a weekly basis in large 20 liter drums, for about 1.80 US$ (the drums are re-used). We use about 3 to 4 drums a week, for drinking and cooking (depending on the season - in the hot season more than in the cool season). Others buy filters, for about 40 US$ for the cheapest ones. Then you get in many neighborhoods machines for filtered water, for about 25 cent per 5 liters.
Of course the bottled water market is huge here, an almost endless amount of brands, from very cheap to vastly expensive Italian and French brands.
Volvic costs about 2 US$ per 1.5 liters, and Fiji 2 US$ per liter.



1.5L is about the largest bottle size for consumer use here(strict regulations means only thin plastic ones and also you pay about 65 cents extra which gets refunded when the bottle is recycled), and nobody uses filters or gets water delivered. We do have still and fizzy water from a special pump at work but I just presumed it was chilled tap. If it's not maybe I'll start filling the work kettle with that since Stockholm water is not as good as mine. :mrgreen:
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Re: Water for Tea

Postby theredbaron » Aug 1st, '12, 14:32

AdamMY wrote:Granted I do not know how things work in Bangkok, and likely if I were in a lost of places in South East Asia I would also be suspect of the water. But as I live in the United states, and having had worked for a Water and Sewer district, I do know a little bit about what regulations the United States has on their public water supplies.

Yes, Chlorine is added, and sometimes a few other things too, such as Flouride is not unusual to be added, and depending on the district and the water supply there could be a chemical added to adjust the pH. While the second two chemicals are added at an incredibly minimal level, I am talking about 5 parts per million or less.

Chlorine needs to be added to municipal water supplies to avoid harmful bacterial growth, and also to avoid things such as algae from growing in the pipes. But for those who are chemically incline the Chlorine slowly works its way out of the water, and basically once the water is boiled the chlorine is essentially completely gone from the water. As for things being picked up from pipes, sadly that is something I deal with in my current location, every once and awhile my water will be temporarily stained brown from an excess iron content ( has to do with where my city gets its water).

But I know in the US tests need to be run on water from basically all parts of the system ( including getting people out the outer edges of the system to fill a sample bottle), which is tested for things such as Chlorine level, and for harmful chemicals picked up from the pipes.



All that is necessary so that water is fit for consumption. But that does not make water suitable for fine teas.
Close to the Alps in Europe, where i come from, we have great water - to drink. But it is one of the most unsuitable waters for tea possible - it's hardness suppresses all subtleties of the more complex finer teas.


I can only advise to make your own tests with different kinds of water, and tea brewed with each parallel in similar pots and cups. If one isn't lucky to live close to a spring with natural water suitable for tea, you may end up with having to use bottled water such as Volvic if you want to get the best out of your tea.
If i do not have access to good water, i will drink more robust teas such as Liu Bao which are less sensitive to water, far cheaper and not very rare unlike my best teas, which i only get occasionally and in very small quantities.

Good tea needs good water, good pots and good cups - there is no way around that.
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Re: Water for Tea

Postby theredbaron » Aug 1st, '12, 14:43

sriracha wrote:
theredbaron wrote:
sriracha wrote:
1.5L is about the largest bottle size for consumer use here(strict regulations means only thin plastic ones and also you pay about 65 cents extra which gets refunded when the bottle is recycled), and nobody uses filters or gets water delivered. We do have still and fizzy water from a special pump at work but I just presumed it was chilled tap. If it's not maybe I'll start filling the work kettle with that since Stockholm water is not as good as mine. :mrgreen:


The best thing to do is to test all available sorts of water where you live with the same tea in the same brewing conditions, and find out what works best.
Most people agree that with the most commonly available commercial water Volvic works best for tea, and is widely available. I recently found that Fiji water is a bit better. But who knows - maybe close to where you live is a natural spring that may have better water. Drinking Chinese tea is an endless journey of experimenting and perfecting your knowledge and abilities. A very important part of that journey is also to be somehow close to natural things, as is already expressed in the tea itself, and the natural products of which tea utensils are made from (preferably by hand) - a trip to the wilds to find good water would be very much part of tea philosophy.
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Re: Water for Tea

Postby David R. » Aug 1st, '12, 16:22

Welcome theredbaron. I completely agree with you regarding water.

As a mater of fact, I am not very keen on Volvic. I prefer water with fewer minerals in it. Hopefully, being french, I have a lot a choices at hand.
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