Experimenting with Water

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


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Jun 27th, '16, 22:00
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Re: Experimenting with Water

by jayinhk » Jun 27th, '16, 22:00

Do not use Arrowhead water under any circumstances. So hard that it made the water cloudy after boiling and the precipitate hurt my throat! I had to wash my kettle out after. Trying Vittel today. Interesting the Arrowhead made for a VERY flavorful cup with an Alishan Guifei oolong my sister gave me yesterday. Vittel made for a lighter and less flavorful cup. It seems a moderate level of minerals is preferable, at least for that guifei oolong.

So far the bottled water I've liked the most is Nongfu Spring (China). Not available in Hong Kong, but it's only $0.50 a quart in China, so I might cross the border once in a while and stock up. :lol: Will experiment with more of the top Chinese brands when I'm in Fujian next month.

Tried unfiltered tap water with the guifei (this tea has some serious longevity) and now with maocha. I think the maocha is better with good spring water, but the guifei was better with tap water than Vittel (Philips glass kettle still had a lot of precipitate until cleaned again)!

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Jun 28th, '16, 13:13
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Re: Experimenting with Water

by stevorama » Jun 28th, '16, 13:13

TORamarn wrote:Please note that the readings from Ionic Conductivity TDS meter is meaningful only if the ionic strength of the solution is basically derived from two dissolved ions, meaning it's useless for the application we're talking about.
I'm not sure I understand (my chemistry education is basic only.) You mean a ionic conductivity TDS meter is not accurate with more than 2 dissolved ions present?

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Jun 29th, '16, 02:57
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Re: Experimenting with Water

by TORamarn » Jun 29th, '16, 02:57

stevorama wrote:
TORamarn wrote:Please note that the readings from Ionic Conductivity TDS meter is meaningful only if the ionic strength of the solution is basically derived from two dissolved ions, meaning it's useless for the application we're talking about.
I'm not sure I understand (my chemistry education is basic only.) You mean a ionic conductivity TDS meter is not accurate with more than 2 dissolved ions present?
In short, yes.

The device is suitable for more concentrated solution such as estimating NaCl in marine aquarium.

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Aug 11th, '16, 01:52
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Re: Experimenting with Water

by stevorama » Aug 11th, '16, 01:52

An update on my personal water experimenting: I've tried a few different waters including local bottled spring water, non-local bottled spring water, volvic, ro, di, filtered tap and mixtures of water. I even located a spring in the woods near my home. For brewing pu-er my preference remains my home water! Obvious bias of course! My preference now is to add a bit of ro water to my home water when I fill my kettle. This yields great results for me. The water I collected at the local spring works really well for herbal teas.

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Aug 11th, '16, 21:33
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Re: Experimenting with Water

by jayinhk » Aug 11th, '16, 21:33

I've gone back to unfiltered tap water myself. If it's good enough for MarshalN, it's good enough for me!

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Aug 12th, '16, 00:56
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Re: Experimenting with Water

by stevorama » Aug 12th, '16, 00:56

jayinhk wrote:I've gone back to unfiltered tap water myself. If it's good enough for MarshalN, it's good enough for me!
There's something to be said for keeping it simple!

Aug 12th, '16, 22:43
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Re: Experimenting with Water

by daidokorocha » Aug 12th, '16, 22:43

jayinhk wrote:I've gone back to unfiltered tap water myself. If it's good enough for MarshalN, it's good enough for me!
I have actually stopped using tap water all together these days. Purely Poland Spring at the moment. When I leave Philadelphia after December one can almost bet I'll be back to tap water though. For now, I prefer the cleaner taste I get with lighter greens with spring water. It allows me to brew much more lightly and enjoy some of the flavors masked by the often strong-tasting local water

Sep 18th, '17, 16:59
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Re: Experimenting with Water

by MmBuddha » Sep 18th, '17, 16:59

Interesting topic, water is something I'm giving a lot of thought to at the moment. I'm planning to purchase some cheap matching mini-gaiwan's to do some side by side comparisons with all kinds of waters for different teas. I'd like to think one water might suit everything, but I'm doubtful.

UK tap water seems to make awful tea. Due probably to the hardness it actually brews cheap black teas with milk very well (I seem to remember Hojo theorising that perhaps this is why the style became so popular soon after tea was first imported here) but for anything else it tastes pretty bad, though I suspect tap water in most countries is far from ideal.

I wish I could place faith in filters et all, but in my experience they've tended to produce thin, poor tasting water that's sometimes even worse than before—and I've tried a few, though admittedly never any of the high-end filtration systems popular in some tea shops etc. Suffice to say I'm firmly in the spring water camp after my experiments so far, and for expenses' sake I wish it were otherwise.

I'd be interested to hear other's thoughts, but there seem to be some shared characteristics between my favourite waters I've tried, most of which are frequently recommended: Volvic, Fiji, and Icelandic Glacial are all, I think, waters pumped from underground aquifers in volcanic terrain. This kind of geology seems to produce waters low in calcium and magnesium (so reasonably soft), but sweet and thick. In the case of Fiji and Volvic, they're both unusually high in silica, which might explain their thick, silky texture. I don't know about the volcanic part, but Spritzer water from Malaysia is similarly silica-rich, and I know it has its fans in the east (Lim Ping Xiang for one).

I've found Fiji and Volvic to be my favourites so far, but I'm not sure how well they suit darker or fermented teas. Perhaps harder, crisper water suits these better? There's no shortage of those available in the UK with our limestone springs, so I'm going to keep experimenting.

Sep 20th, '17, 05:57
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Re: Experimenting with Water

by theredbaron » Sep 20th, '17, 05:57

Lim Ping Xiang and some students and friends did 15 to 20 years ago excursions to the mountains around Ipoh and found the spring water there very suitable for tea. Spritzer is from Ipoh (as far as i remember), cheap because local and very good for tea.

As i now relocated to Germany, i did in the beginning some experimentation with water, and found a local water called "Black Forest" which is better than Volvic or Fiji. To find the right water one always has to experiment. Sometimes one can find a local water that is cheap and very suitable.



MmBuddha wrote: Interesting topic, water is something I'm giving a lot of thought to at the moment. I'm planning to purchase some cheap matching mini-gaiwan's to do some side by side comparisons with all kinds of waters for different teas. I'd like to think one water might suit everything, but I'm doubtful.

UK tap water seems to make awful tea. Due probably to the hardness it actually brews cheap black teas with milk very well (I seem to remember Hojo theorising that perhaps this is why the style became so popular soon after tea was first imported here) but for anything else it tastes pretty bad, though I suspect tap water in most countries is far from ideal.

I wish I could place faith in filters et all, but in my experience they've tended to produce thin, poor tasting water that's sometimes even worse than before—and I've tried a few, though admittedly never any of the high-end filtration systems popular in some tea shops etc. Suffice to say I'm firmly in the spring water camp after my experiments so far, and for expenses' sake I wish it were otherwise.

I'd be interested to hear other's thoughts, but there seem to be some shared characteristics between my favourite waters I've tried, most of which are frequently recommended: Volvic, Fiji, and Icelandic Glacial are all, I think, waters pumped from underground aquifers in volcanic terrain. This kind of geology seems to produce waters low in calcium and magnesium (so reasonably soft), but sweet and thick. In the case of Fiji and Volvic, they're both unusually high in silica, which might explain their thick, silky texture. I don't know about the volcanic part, but Spritzer water from Malaysia is similarly silica-rich, and I know it has its fans in the east (Lim Ping Xiang for one).

I've found Fiji and Volvic to be my favourites so far, but I'm not sure how well they suit darker or fermented teas. Perhaps harder, crisper water suits these better? There's no shortage of those available in the UK with our limestone springs, so I'm going to keep experimenting.

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Oct 3rd, '17, 07:11
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Re: Experimenting with Water

by VanFersen » Oct 3rd, '17, 07:11

It was a long road for me with countless experiments to find the best possible water (in my opinion). I even wrote an article about my experiences on my teablog some years ago. Since that time a lot has changed. I tasted so many different bottled waters, filtered water etc. and in the end only two bottled waters really passed the test.

Like mentioned before so many things are important to create the best tea environment for your tea session. Even a different place but with the same teawares, tea and water could drastically change the taste of the tea. Before I start to get deeper into the mater of water here is my list of the perfect conditions drinking your tea with 100% satisfaction :wink:

1. Good source of Water
A historical quote from the Ming dynasty called "Written conversation of Plum Blossom Herbal Hall" once said "The inherent quality of tea must be expressed in water. When a tea that is an eight meets with water that is a ten, the tea is also a ten! When water that is an eight pairs with a tea that is a ten then the tea is just an eight." Of course this isn't working if the tea is pure garbage and the water is a ten but I totally get what they meant. In another document from the Qing dynasty Zhang Dafu said "If you take the percentage on what creates a good tea it might be 80% water and 20% tea" - which means 20% good tea! :wink:

2. Good quality of tea
What else if left to say. Bad cheap tea creates a pale and dull tea experience. It is always important to buy from a good and trustfully source.

3. The right type of teaware
(if you aren't that much into teaware porcelain is a good allrounder) But also the water boiler needs to be the right stuff. If there is a lot of plastic involved it also drastically changes the taste and scent of tea.

4. Clean tasting and scenting buds
(If you are sick = it makes no sense/If you were sick = wait until there is noting which might block you nose / And also take care to drink tea without eating anything side by side because in that case you're not able to get out the full potential of the tea because other spices etc are definitely overshadow the whole experience - and if you eat something before take care that it wasn't to spicy because this also transforms into a false outcome)

5. Daily condition/mood and Location
(Which means: Even healthy one and the same tea could taste totally different if you your stressed for example. That's why it is important to always find a good amount of time to enjoy your tea with any stress on your thoughts or a time limit where you need to be finished. Also other circumstances good effect the taste of the tea. Location: "Tea taste best at home" - at least in my opinion that's the case. Even at my parents farm tea tastes totally different even if I got everything I need [Water, Tea and teaware] ~ you need to have the right mood and place for a good cup of tea.

6. Tea storage
(Even the best tea stored wrong on a longer term is creating a bad tea experience. Avoiding other odors is the key and in most cases an airtight sealed way of storage is the other one.)

7. Knowledge
(Because even if the Water, the tea and the teaware is perfect if you overbrew the tea, use to much or to less tea leaves or steep it to hot it drastically could change anything! Know what you're doing and do it with dedication and care)

Ok that's the major key notes I would say and now let's talk about the WATER!

I am from Vienna and even your water comes from the mountains it sucks! It is one of the best within Europe and it is totally OK just drinking it as a refreshment cold and from the pipe and also use it for daily herbal teas (if you're are sick or just want to drink anything aside just water) BUT for good tea!? Forget it!

In my early "Tea days" I believed it might be good water but after a year of drinking and exploring Japanese green tea on a daily basis I experienced a big change "Volvic" - going further from this point I believed this might be the holy grail but even Volvic isn't the best. Volvic is really nice when it comes to green teas and similar teas with a much greener background but other teas especially richer ones might not 100% welcome Volvic. But volvic is better than any filtered water or even our tab water.

Talking about filtered water or as I call it "the devil" - this was the most major disappointment within my water search. I tried Brita and even an expensive machine they used at a friend hipster coffee shop. Both turned out the be more or less the same. So what is wrong with Brita? I have very sensitive tasting and scenting buds. Within a tea I can filter out at least 8-15 different nuances. In most cases the major ones are 4-6 the rest are the fine and special once which creates the uniqueness within each and every tea. So what's wrong with Brita? I did side by side tastings and the result was terrifying. Brita nearly kills all the fine and special notes and highlights only the 4-6 major ones. And this was a 100% no go for me.

So what is good bottled water? Definitely a term of personal taste but as I am here to share my experience I can tell you this ~ if you are able to get Lauretana - BUY IT!

This is one of the lightest water out there and very soft. I never ever found a better water than Lauretana. It is from Italy and sold in some of the Supermarkets here in my town. I only use this water to drink all my teas. I never had a bad experience with any tea and Lauretana.

Before I found this one I tried a lot. There are some others which quite meet up at the same level as Lauretana but either they were to expansive or hard to get.

Plose another Italian water also really brings out very good results. But beside Lauretana my second water hero is "icelandic glacial" water - this water might even be a bit better than Lauretana but it is very hard to get and only in small bottles (here in Vienna) and quite expansive!

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Oct 6th, '17, 00:50
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Re: Experimenting with Water

by PuerhCollector » Oct 6th, '17, 00:50

VanFersen wrote: It was a long road for me with countless experiments to find the best possible water (in my opinion). I even wrote an article about my experiences on my teablog some years ago. Since that time a lot has changed. I tasted so many different bottled waters, filtered water etc. and in the end only two bottled waters really passed the test.
..... .....
.....
Glad to see this topic still going.

Thank you Van Fersen for sharing this excellent entry. The points you made are exceptional and can only come from someone possessing the deep well of experience from conducting countless trial and errors himself. It is a great benefit for all tea enthusiasts looking to optimize our tea appreciation.

As someone who drinks old and semi-age puerh tea most of the time, I haven’t found anything that beats Iceland bottled water. It is not cheap though and because of that I have been experimenting with mixing the more expensive bottled water with different local water sources. The tap water in my area has become more unreliable so I don’t use it for brewing special tea that can be quite expensive. Therefore I have often resorted to using local bottled water like Aura and Mont Fleur to blend with Iceland, Snowy, Volvic, etc. I have been quite happy with the results.

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Re: Experimenting with Water

by ethan » Oct 7th, '17, 06:35

PuerhCollector wrote:
VanFersen wrote: ..... .....
.....
often resorted to using local bottled water like Aura and Mont Fleur to blend with Iceland, Snowy, Volvic, etc. I have been quite happy with the results.
I have been drinking those 2 brands plus Purra and Minere. For black tea and oolong, I have found using these brands of spring water provides better drinking for second and third infusions to a great degrew (not so much for the first infusion). Mixing good water with bad has not worked very well for me. I wish there were mineral packs that were effective, easy to mix, and cheap to make "ordinary water" better for tea when traveling. (In Boston I have been happy filtering tap water with British Berkefeld which is now known as Big Berkey).

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Oct 7th, '17, 23:28
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Re: Experimenting with Water

by PuerhCollector » Oct 7th, '17, 23:28

ethan wrote: I have been drinking those 2 brands plus Purra and Minere. For black tea and oolong, I have found using these brands of spring water provides better drinking for second and third infusions to a great degrew (not so much for the first infusion). Mixing good water with bad has not worked very well for me. I wish there were mineral packs that were effective, easy to mix, and cheap to make "ordinary water" better for tea when traveling. (In Boston I have been happy filtering tap water with British Berkefeld which is now known as Big Berkey).
On principle I dont agree with mixing anything good with something bad. That said, I dont believe I have mentioned that anywhere in my reply.

Do you consider Aura and Mont Fleur as being bad water?
Personally I have always rated both amongst the top brands locally. I have enjoyed using both for some time now and when I want to make things more special I will add a good portion of Iceland, Snowy, etc. to fine tune it to the tea that I am brewing.

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