Water Quality


Completely off the Topic of Tea

Water Quality

Postby TeaFanatic » Jan 15th, '06, 15:50

Through my experiences, I have heard a great deal of differences in what water is best for tea. Many people say distilled is the best, but I don't want to pay for distilled or bottled water every month (what a ripoff to pay for water). I also understand that chlorine compounds can hinder the taste and health benefits of tea.

I read somewhere on here that you can boil water and then let it cool and then reheat it, but then recently at a local tea shop, they said that you should only use fresh water and not water that has been heated previously.

I'm not quite sure what to believe or what to do. What is everyone else's thoughts on this subject?
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Postby AnnaAult » Jan 15th, '06, 18:50

I found that using bottled water makes a tremendous difference in the quality of my tea -- but I think that depends a lot on the quality of your tap water. The tap water in my town is very very hard, which I found made my teas taste funny and brew up cloudy. I buy purified water for our household (25-39 cents a gallon) since we moved here.

If your water quality is fine other then the chlorination, then the simplest thing you can do is pour out a jug of water and let it sit over night - most of the chlorine will evaporate out of it. I've done this other places we lived, where the tap water was okay to drink. I actually learned this keeping fish - it was easier to 'treat' my water this way, then to buy purified water for the tank all the time.

I definitely agree about the need for fresh water -- some times my husband will make cocoa and then not refill the kettle, and I can always tell the difference in the tea if I've accidentally made it with re-boiled water. It is considerably less flavourful.

I hope you experiment around, and find what works for you best! That's part of the fun of tea.

Anna
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Postby Mike in KY » Jan 16th, '06, 10:10

"most of the chlorine will evaporate out of it. "
Sorry Anna, that is no longer true. Years ago, when water treatment plants bubbled chlorine gas thru the water to kill bacteria, the chlorine would dissipate if you let it stand overnight. Nowadays they stir in chlorine compounds that don't dissipate. That's why those with aquariums have to add dechlorinating chemicals to tap water. Letting the water air out for a while might reduce the odor, but the chlorine is still in the water.

I like using fresh reverse osmosis bottled water or water from a Brita filter pitcher. The Brita filters don't remove chlorine effectively (read the label), but it still improves the taste. I use a measuring cup to fill my kettle with the desired amount of water so I don't waste as much water or electricity. Concidering how much tea I drink it would add up.
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Postby Mike in KY » Jan 16th, '06, 10:13

(also if you leave water in a stainless steel kettle it will rust and get lime deposits. dump it all out.)
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Postby Tracy » Jan 16th, '06, 19:39

This is a good topic. Is anyone familiar with the Zojirushi Micom, which claims to dechlorinate water? I'm wondering if this truly dechlorinates the water, and if so, how...

Also, if there are any water purification experts out there, I'm looking for recommendations on a system for our tea house.

Thanks!
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Postby Mike in KY » Jan 17th, '06, 00:07

Zojirushi Micom? Is that a filter system?

Some friends of mine bought a reverse osmosis system for the dream home they built, before moving out of state and divorcing. I'm pretty sure it removed chlorine. As I recall it cost ~ $800 and consisted of 2 or 3 big plastic barrels in the basement.
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Postby Tracy » Jan 17th, '06, 01:13

It's actually a hot water dispenser. Very cool and handy. I use it for tea tastings and on days I know we'll be drinking lots of tea.
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Bottled water - not all it's cracked up to be

Postby cyenobite » Jan 17th, '06, 14:03

I thought I'd add my two cents here...
Just a warning about bottled water. There have been various reports out about the quality of bottled water. I urge you to really know where the water comes from, with whatever brand you buy. There are few legal limitations for bottled water (as far as impurities and contaminates), so there is a chance that the water coming out of your tap is in fact "helathier" than that pulled from the groundwater. Then of course there are "marketing" twists where some bottled water are actually filled from municpal taps. I recently learned that "spring water" is a misnomer as well, a spring by definition is a pond that has water coming to the surface naturally, so this means you're really drinking pond water that is open to all sorts of pollution, and biological goodies. Water that claims to be "spring water" is usually collected by drilling down with a pipe "near" a spring source (which is techincally a well).
I guess my point here is to be careful. Know that there are a ton of bottled water companies out there and there are some "creative marketing" labels put on these bottles. Tap water is monitored many times a month, and must pass strict FDA requirements. Who do you trust more is all I'm saying.
One more... I stopped using my Brita filters... I noticed that the carbon from their filters would leak out into the water. I would like to drink water, not water with black carbon floating in it. (Fill a pitcher and let it sit for a week... look at the bottom of the pitcher, there will be a thin layer of black soot. Ewww.

Two links for further info:
http://www.nrdc.org/water/drinking/nbw.asp
and from the FDA:
http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/2002/402_h2o.html

Interesting post... I look forward to hearing other opinions.
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Postby Mike in KY » Jan 17th, '06, 19:58

Please Lady Arden, concidering the recent horror stories about bottled water quality, it might be a good idea to call the bottler and confirm that FL doesn't stand for fecal lumps.

Cyen posted a fun pair of links. Let's have some fun with them!

NRDC (a political action group of unknown origin)
One thing I couldn't help noticing was the curiously desperate effort by the NRDC authors to group all bottled water into one category with no distinction between types of "bottled water". A suspicious person might wonder if there is a political agenda behind their musings. Would you do so much research and so much reporting and fail to make note of such significant differences?

FDA (scientists who failed to get decent jobs in the private sector)
The FDA site is urgently concerned with reassuring folks about the quality of tap water and said of bottled water: "Today, of course, there are dozens of brands of bottled water and many different kinds, including flavored or fizzy, to choose from. "
That sort of makes all bottled water sound flaky and goofy as a category of products. Was it intended to inform?

The FDA site also failed to mention that many old houses have funky plumbing leading from the street and right to the tap.

When buying water I get "Drinking Water" that also says "Reverse Osmosis" and "Ozonation" right on the label. As explained on the FDA site (if you bother to read beyond their implied assertion that bottled water is flaky and goofy), ozonation is an effective way of killing bacteria that uses ozone (a thee atom oxygen molecule) instead of stinky chlorine. I wouldn't lose sleep over health risks from tap water, but if I can taste a difference between tap and alternatives and those alternatives make better tea, that is what I care about. Tell that to those FDA pinheads.

As for charcoal coming thru your Brita, that is mostly pure carbon which is non toxic to carbon based life forms. It has absorbed some contaminants from the water , but it's contamination that was already in the water, so it's nothing that hasn't been passed by the FDA .
The important thing with Brita or Pur filter pitchers is to confirm that (1) the filter is firmly seated and (2) the filter is replaced and the pitcher is washed as directed.
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Postby Mike in KY » Jan 18th, '06, 07:38

If you are away for a week, you get rusty water out of the tap and who knows what may be going on in the Brita filter. Now I might lose some sleep - thanks a lot Lady Arden.

I did some checking and found that I was wrong about Brita not removing chlorine. I used a different filter in the past (not Pur or Brita) which was compatible with Brita pitchers and I recall their info sheet said their filters removed very little chlorine, but walmart stopped selling them. Here's a quick page about bacteria, chlorine and Brita filters, and if these Berkley folks were drinking their tea instead of smoking it, it's worth a peek, just for fun.
http://www.waterindustry.org/Water-Facts/filtered-1.htm

Interestingly, they claim chlorine will dissipate after a few hours. Who to believe? Different treatment plants use different chemicals, chlorine or chloramine, or a combination of both. Chloramine can take many days to dissipate. Here's a link for aquarium owners: http://www.csd.net/~cgadd/aqua/art_chlorine.htm

And here's a provocative passage from the waterindustry.org article:
"THMs are a group of organic chemicals, which are suspected of being carcinogenic. They are formed in water when chlorine being used as a disinfectant reacts with natural organic matter (such as humic acids from decaying vegetation). "
I wonder if THMs are formed when chlorinated water is used to make...tea.
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Postby Kai » Jan 23rd, '06, 02:55

I had a similar question about water content in regards to chlorine and chloramine.

Turns out, you can call your water works and ask. By law they are required to provide you with the info of what is put in or taken out of your water. I think I talked to a "Water Engineer".

As it is, they add chloramine to the water, so I had to use a remover when adding water to my fishtank, instead of using the cheap method of letting it air out.
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Postby Mike in KY » Jan 24th, '06, 15:02

Utilities should send a copy of their annual report to all customers, but here's a link so you should be able to access your local water utility's site online.
http://www.awwa.org/community/links.cfm ... egoryID=20

From my experience, chlorine has a stronger aroma than chloramine. If you run the shower for a few minutes and it smells like you spilled a bottle of bleach when you re-enter the room, your treatment plant probably uses chlorine.

National Drinking Water Week will be here before you know it, May 7-13, 2006! You will, however, notice the conspicuous absence of a link or reference to making tea on this AWWA Drinking Water Week page. Clearly, that is their way of conceding that ordinary tap water does not make the best tea.
http://www.awwa.org/advocacy/dww/
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