jayinhk wrote:I agree with Bankung. It's all a matter of taste. Some prefer hongni and some zisha, for the same exact tea. You might like Volvic over fancy Canadian water, but someone else might prefer the opposite. In Wien, the water is extremely hard, but my mother thinks the water is great for tea! I only brewed up rooibos and the loose shu my dad had lying around there after he passed and thought the water was fine--the crappy tea/storage was the issue! I tried one of the teas at home and it was just as bad! Traditional storage pu erh that had been stored airtight while it was still moist from Hong Kong humidity.
Again, sorry, but this time strong disagreement. It is not all a simple matter of taste. Appreciation of tea art and culture is a lifelong journey of learning (and no disrespect to your mother, but i very much doubt that she knows much about tea if she is of the opinion that hard Vienna tap water could possibly be good for tea). While some are of the opinion that Lipton tea bags and lots of milk and sugar is great tea - it is a rather uneducated opinion. And no, in danger of being politically incorrect - but not all opinions are of equal worth, people who study a subject matter intensively and for a long time have more educated opinions. If it would all be just a matter of personal taste or opinion, we should close this forum and stop talking, and get on with tea bags in cheap mugs.
And yes, i quite possibly would prefer the fancy Canadian water over Volvic - if i could just get it here. But i can't, so Volvic has it to be as it is the best that is available here. Point being - if you want the optimum out of your tea - you will have to test all waters available to you where you live. You may also want to do that with a tea friend or master who knows more than you, and can give you the right guidance. If you have a mountain stream with excellent tea water close by where you live, then hike there once a while with a canister in your backpack and get some, Would be good for your stamina as well. Where i live the only streams available are poisonous canals.
As to "Some prefer hongni and some zisha" - no, it isn't that simple. That is why generations of tea masters experiment with different pots of different makers, eras, clays, firing methods, etc for different teas and actively discuss that subject matter. But that is a topic which sooner or later one would need expert guidance as it gets rather esoteric there and into very subtle differences of taste. And there my limits are reached soon, mostly because i do not regularly drink with a tea master. But i have done that previously, so i do know how subtle the differences are there, and how much learning goes into the matter at hand (and i know that i know very little compared to some).
Sometimes i get the impression that for many tea appreciation is like photography - many hobbyists who can buy the most expensive cameras think they are automatically great photographers, and do not understand the skill, talent and years of learning that goes into being a good photographer.
I can only suggest at this point that you should find a tea master who can guide you. Internet forums do not replace hands on guidance. Tea people have done that for more than a thousand years and there is no reasons why that tradition should be stopped or dismissed.