Is my water good?

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Apr 22nd, '12, 10:17
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Re: Is my water good?

by Stentor » Apr 22nd, '12, 10:17

Tead Off, what TDS content do you consider too high?

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Apr 22nd, '12, 10:39
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Re: Is my water good?

by Chip » Apr 22nd, '12, 10:39

Having extremely hard well water here, which does taste nice and naturally "sweet," I do use a water purifier to remove the calcium due to the extreme amount of scale I had to remove constantly from the electric kettle ... and just about any other teaware item.

Perhaps I should try a half and half water, half purified and half straight from the well to see if I am missing anything these days, but it is great NEVER having to descale anything.

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Apr 22nd, '12, 12:59
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Re: Is my water good?

by Peacock » Apr 22nd, '12, 12:59

Same here. If I use the tap water as it is scale immediately builds up on the inside of my kettle. I use the Pur filter, and once the water is filtered through the carbon it is then filtered through minerals. With the filter scale takes a long time to build up.

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Apr 22nd, '12, 13:23
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Re: Is my water good?

by Tead Off » Apr 22nd, '12, 13:23

mbanu wrote: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. )

Okay, I did some more reading on hard and soft waters and have a better understanding of the accepted use of these terms. As a definition, the water I use is almost hard, TDS=242mg/L. The definition of a mineral water is at least TDS=250mg/L. This water, in general, makes better tasting tea than the purified Brita water that I used to use, in my opinion. This may be subjective. It also has a higher ph, 7.2 compared with my Brita filtered water at 6. The problem of my water is the scale which you would think is caused by the higher TDS.

The other mineral water that I use has a higher TDS, 358mg/L and slightly higher ph of 7.3. However, this water does not make my teas taste as good but has LESS scale than the lower TDS water I generally use. It also has half of the calcium contained in my regular mineral water.
The scale I'm willing to live with and clean out every so often. But, trying to get the best taste out of my teas is another matter. Perhaps it's the higher calcium in the TDS that makes greener teas sing. Maybe it's the higher ph. I don't know.

When you say softer water makes higher quality teas shine, this is not my experience. But, maybe there are some teas that do respond to softer water but I don't think it's the quality of the tea but the nature of a particular type of tea like Wuyi and its processing. I'm guessing here. I know when I switched over to a mineral water with a higher TDS, my tea experience heightened dramatically.

Stentor: Don't know the answer to your question about how high a TDS is too high. I only have experience with the 2 waters I mention above, the higher TDS one with a measurement of 358mg/L.

Apr 22nd, '12, 14:44
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Re: Is my water good?

by mbanu » Apr 22nd, '12, 14:44

The style of tea is probably related. :)

Tea-master Zhang Youxin believed that tea performed best in water most similar to that which it was grown in. Perhaps that is the key?

I'll see if I can find any studies that try to explain the mechanism for how water hardness effects tea flavor for various styles and methods of preparing tea. (I'm quite curious about this myself!)

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Apr 26th, '12, 17:55
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Re: Is my water good?

by teaisme » Apr 26th, '12, 17:55

Tead Off wrote:
The other mineral water that I use has a higher TDS, 358mg/L and slightly higher ph of 7.3. However, this water does not make my teas taste as good

How does this water fare with dancongs and whites vs your other water? Still not as good?

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Apr 26th, '12, 23:29
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Re: Is my water good?

by BioHorn » Apr 26th, '12, 23:29

Alex Zorach, in his blog, thought gave our tea here in Cleveland rave reviews.

I would agree! :mrgreen:

It has some "minerality", but not extreme. I would say it is average for the US. Not maybe a bit on the hard side, but not too much.

I tend to use it for puerh, yancha and Phoenix DC's with good results.

I'll put up a photo of the build up on my tetsubin. After about a year it is coming along nicely!

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Apr 26th, '12, 23:38
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Re: Is my water good?

by Tead Off » Apr 26th, '12, 23:38

teaisme wrote:
Tead Off wrote:
The other mineral water that I use has a higher TDS, 358mg/L and slightly higher ph of 7.3. However, this water does not make my teas taste as good

How does this water fare with dancongs and whites vs your other water? Still not as good?

Dancongs and whites are light teas, not roasted. These seem to fare well with the mineral waters I use.

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Apr 27th, '12, 23:28
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Re: Is my water good?

by chrl42 » Apr 27th, '12, 23:28

mbanu wrote: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

It differs by period of time, too. Whereas Luyu liked spring mineral water, Song's Huizong and Qing's Qianlong emperors liked 'light water' best. These people actually have a thousand years of history talking about water.

Modern day China usually offer two kinds of water, mineral water and filtered water. It's clear Yancha vendors prefer mineral water, as there are Gongfu scripts that demonstrated its superiority (along with Yixing Zhuni, Jingdezhen porcelain cups, Chaozhou stove etc)

But Puerh vendors seem to prefer filtered, light other thing not to forget is, Puerh is brewed in boiling water, once water is boiled, many minerals will be evaporated and its pH contents will be changed.

Luyu said boiling water shouldn't be used for brewing teas, so old time's stardards and today's might not be very much the same...

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Apr 28th, '12, 06:49
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Re: Is my water good?

by solitude » Apr 28th, '12, 06:49

For me works only soft water both bottled (70mg/L, pH = 7.3) and brita filtered. I tried a couple of waters with higher mineral content but I found them to mute the taste of most of teas or add a salty-like taste to it.
250mg/L is considered to be very hard according to Wikipedia and for me is a surprise that somebody can use such water for tea with success.

About the evaporating of chlorine from the tap water. The chlorine is sodium hypochlorite which decomposes to oxygen (therefore the disinfection property) and sodium chloride. In this way the typical chlorine smell is gone but the water becomes salty.

But like always, everybody should drink whatever fits for him.

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