Black tea water

Fully oxidized tea leaves for a robust cup.

Jun 27th 16 9:20 pm
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Black tea water

by armormaniac » Jun 27th 16 9:20 pm

I've tied looking online for advice but couldn't find any. I'm wanting to know what the best water would b to use with black tea.

I saw a post on a blog testing filtered, bottled and tap water for green, oolong and black tea. I don't know how reliable it was considering she used pre-bagged tea from the supermarket.

What are your thoughts? What kind of water do you think is best?

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Jun 28th 16 1:27 am
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Re: Black tea water

by pedant » Jun 28th 16 1:27 am

have you seen this recent thread on the subject? the focus isn't specifically on black tea, but you may still find it useful.

http://www.teachat.com/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=21497

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Re: Black tea water

by kuánglóng » Jun 28th 16 7:18 am

armormaniac wrote:I've tied looking online for advice but couldn't find any. I'm wanting to know what the best water would b to use with black tea.

I saw a post on a blog testing filtered, bottled and tap water for green, oolong and black tea. I don't know how reliable it was considering she used pre-bagged tea from the supermarket.

What are your thoughts? What kind of water do you think is best?
It all depends on your personal preferences but I'd use water that's low in minerals, especially calcium and magnesium to minimize reactions with the polyphenols. I'm in East Frisia right now where the locals drink ...loads of strong broken Assam blends on a daily basis. Even though the local tapwater contains relatively few minerals some oldtimers still go as far as collecting rainwater for their tea. I guess that's more a tradition from back in the day and wouldn't do it myself so while I'm here I'm mostly using tapwater that I run through an industrial grade carbon block filter that filters out basically everything but the minerals. For some teas I'm still using Volvic here and there even though I try my best to avoid bottled water.

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Jul 6th 16 3:17 am
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Re: Black tea water

by Arkose » Jul 6th 16 3:17 am

One can always refer to Lu Yu and the other greats on the subject, since water's been written on extensively. Ignoring water source (since most of us these days just get it from the tap), Emperor Zhao Ji gives the four attributes of good water as: clear, light, sweet, clean. The water should not be cloudy or discoloured, should not be hard, it shouldn't be bitter (and have no 'off' tastes--tea is already naturally astringent, so pairing it with a 'sweet' water removes the edge), and come from a clean source. But In the end it comes down to testing the water yourself; if you hate the taste of your local water, it's probably not going to make very good tea. Lu Yu says something on the subject to the effect of: inferior tea with superior water makes a superior brew. Superior tea with inferior water makes a inferior brew.

A lot of the greats recognize that mineral content is important in tea water. Tea shouldn't be made with distilled water because of it, as it comes out flat-tasting. You instead look for a balance between hard and soft water, with a neutral pH. It's similarly important that water is oxygenated; without dissolved oxygen, again, tea brews flat. That's why it's often emphasized that you never brew with 'stagnant' water, and in modern times that can be taken to mean bottled, whereas tap water allows oxygenation. It's also why you don't make tea with water that has already been boiled once, or allow the water to boil too much/past the "third boil" or "rolling boil". Water loses oxygen as it boils, so over-boiled water is flat.

I'm lucky that I live in a place with good drinking water on-tap; it's not hard, tastes pretty good on its own, and I think makes a solid enough brew.

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Jul 6th 16 4:33 am
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Re: Black tea water

by jayinhk » Jul 6th 16 4:33 am

I believe you can oxygenate water by shaking it up or pouring it...the higher you pour from, the more air gets dissolved in the water. I've found I like more calcium in my water for tea than Volvic provides. I'm using Volvic right now as it is on sale ($2 for 1.5 liters).

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Jul 6th 16 8:40 am
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Re: Black tea water

by Arkose » Jul 6th 16 8:40 am

Yes. It comes up in a few tea preps/ceremonies, like Moroccan mint tea, but its also a relevant technique in gongfu. It serves to both aerate the water and cool it down. Still, it's probably most strongly associated with the art of teh tarik.

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Re: Black tea water

by .m. » Jul 6th 16 11:37 am

Arkose wrote:That's why it's often emphasized that you never brew with 'stagnant' water, and in modern times that can be taken to mean bottled, whereas tap water allows oxygenation. It's also why you don't make tea with water that has already been boiled once, or allow the water to boil too much/past the "third boil" or "rolling boil". Water loses oxygen as it boils, so over-boiled water is flat.
In general yes, but there are no rules.
* A good bottled water will usually be superior to your tap water unless you are really lucky to live in a place with a great tap water. Not to mention that most tap water is chlorinated and needs some filtering.
* Some tea people (eg. in korea) store their water in crocks that allow the water breathe. You could call it stagnant since it doesn't move, yet they have a reason.
* Boiling water will surely loose oxygen and become flat, but as far as i can tell there the issue with reheating already boiled water is not that big. But of course everything depends on many many things.
* Sometimes water that reached boiling will taste sweeter and fuller than unboiled one, so even if you use only for example 70C water for a japanese green, there is a point in bringing it to boil and letting to cool.
Etc.

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Jul 6th 16 11:54 am
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Re: Black tea water

by jayinhk » Jul 6th 16 11:54 am

.m. wrote:
Arkose wrote:That's why it's often emphasized that you never brew with 'stagnant' water, and in modern times that can be taken to mean bottled, whereas tap water allows oxygenation. It's also why you don't make tea with water that has already been boiled once, or allow the water to boil too much/past the "third boil" or "rolling boil". Water loses oxygen as it boils, so over-boiled water is flat.
In general yes, but there are no rules.
* A good bottled water will usually be superior to your tap water unless you are really lucky to live in a place with a great tap water. Not to mention that most tap water is chlorinated and needs some filtering.
* Some tea people (eg. in korea) store their water in crocks that allow the water breathe. You could call it stagnant since it doesn't move, yet they have a reason.
* Boiling water will surely loose oxygen and become flat, but as far as i can tell there the issue with reheating already boiled water is not that big. But of course everything depends on many many things.
* Sometimes water that reached boiling will taste sweeter and fuller than unboiled one, so even if you use only for example 70C water for a japanese green, there is a point in bringing it to boil and letting to cool.
Etc.
Bringing water to a boil precipitates certain solutes, too, so the water will seem softer.

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Jul 6th 16 11:55 am
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Re: Black tea water

by jayinhk » Jul 6th 16 11:55 am

Arkose wrote:Yes. It comes up in a few tea preps/ceremonies, like Moroccan mint tea, but its also a relevant technique in gongfu. It serves to both aerate the water and cool it down. Still, it's probably most strongly associated with the art of teh tarik.
Yup, I was thinking of teh tarik, and the guys in China who pour tea from large distances without spilling any :D I've seen milk tea 'scooped' during preparation in India, too.

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Re: Black tea water

by ethan » Jul 6th 16 4:36 pm

Arkrose, I've written this before: Not too much oxygen can be boiled out of water. If it could, H2O would become hydrogen!

There are "facts" surely. Tea might taste better w/ various pours. Whether that is due to specific physical changes of the liquid's preparation or the sight of liquid traveling long distances through air changing how the drinker is prepared to enjoy.......

Lately I am enjoying a favorite tea, Himalayan Orange, infused a maximum of 30 seconds, maybe even only 20; after years of much longer steeping times. Perhaps the water from the British Berkefeld filter made this possible, or, the tea's aging; or, I am different. Life is a mystery & so is tea, ultimately.

Cheers

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Jul 6th 16 5:00 pm
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Re: Black tea water

by jayinhk » Jul 6th 16 5:00 pm

ethan wrote:Arkrose, I've written this before: Not too much oxygen can be boiled out of water. If it could, H2O would become hydrogen!

There are "facts" surely. Tea might taste better w/ various pours. Whether that is due to specific physical changes of the liquid's preparation or the sight of liquid traveling long distances through air changing how the drinker is prepared to enjoy.......

Lately I am enjoying a favorite tea, Himalayan Orange, infused a maximum of 30 seconds, maybe even only 20; after years of much longer steeping times. Perhaps the water from the British Berkefeld filter made this possible, or, the tea's aging; or, I am different. Life is a mystery & so is tea, ultimately.

Cheers
Ethan, dissolved air (including oxygen, but primarily nitrogen) can be boiled off. Chlorine too, if you boil for long enough. Try boiling the same water for a while and compare that to freshly boiled water and see if it makes a difference to you. Both the speed and height of pour can affect tea, too. Pouring aggressively can make for more astringent brews and pouring from a height can help aerate water.

Are you using more leaf in your vessel than you used to? At 20-30 seconds you're approaching a gongfu-style of brewing.

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Re: Black tea water

by Arkose » Jul 6th 16 7:08 pm

.m. wrote:In general yes, but there are no rules.
* A good bottled water will usually be superior to your tap water unless you are really lucky to live in a place with a great tap water. Not to mention that most tap water is chlorinated and needs some filtering.
* Some tea people (eg. in korea) store their water in crocks that allow the water breathe. You could call it stagnant since it doesn't move, yet they have a reason.
* Boiling water will surely loose oxygen and become flat, but as far as i can tell there the issue with reheating already boiled water is not that big. But of course everything depends on many many things.
* Sometimes water that reached boiling will taste sweeter and fuller than unboiled one, so even if you use only for example 70C water for a japanese green, there is a point in bringing it to boil and letting to cool.
Etc.
Of course not. It really does come down to water that tastes good to YOU is probably going to make better tea than water that tastes bad to you. In the end, bottled water is usually the way to go, it's better regulated than tap-water, plus pour it from a bit of a height and you've effectively oxygenated it.

Zhang Yuan does also talk about storing rainwater in crocks in order to ready it for tea-drinking. In the end, stagnant water is usually just implied as water that has been left to sit and possibly grow bacteria, which would be bad for you. Most of Lu Yu's rules in general, when you think about them, are pretty logical (avoiding sediment-laden and bacteria-prone water sources, etc; the one about snow always has me puzzled, though).

The idea on boiling is not that you don't boil the water at all, it's that it's not boiled for too long before it's allowed to cool for lighter teas.
jayinhk wrote:Yup, I was thinking of teh tarik, and the guys in China who pour tea from large distances without spilling any :D I've seen milk tea 'scooped' during preparation in India, too.
Ooh yeah, there's some really cool ones. I've only seen some youtube videos on the art.
ethan wrote:Arkrose, I've written this before: Not too much oxygen can be boiled out of water. If it could, H2O would become hydrogen!

There are "facts" surely. Tea might taste better w/ various pours. Whether that is due to specific physical changes of the liquid's preparation or the sight of liquid traveling long distances through air changing how the drinker is prepared to enjoy.......

Lately I am enjoying a favorite tea, Himalayan Orange, infused a maximum of 30 seconds, maybe even only 20; after years of much longer steeping times. Perhaps the water from the British Berkefeld filter made this possible, or, the tea's aging; or, I am different. Life is a mystery & so is tea, ultimately.

Cheers
I think you're mixing up the dissolved oxygen ion with the hydroxyl or OH- ion. The O in H2O is not what's dissolved in water.

But yeah, I believe a few studies have shown that the amount of oxygen between boils does not change as significantly as we think (although I also remember doing a grade-school experiment growing up that showed the opposite), and it could just come down to "the ritual is what we enjoy". The presentation of tea does shape how we enjoy it, from the satisfaction of the work you put into preparation, to the visual effects of a nice cup.

I mean, when it comes down to it, I'm not going to make a fresh pot of water after every infusion; that's a waste. I can't remember if Lu Yu or one of the others wrote it, but there is a trick where you add just a bit of fresh water to already-boiled/cooled water before you boil it again for a new pot, which is supposed to "re-energize" it. There's probably no science behind it unless you're mixing a 1/2 and 1/2 ratio of fresh and old water.

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Re: Black tea water

by ethan » Jul 6th 16 8:08 pm

Arkrose, I almost always add some fresh water to the already boiled water before boiling again. My mother always did, though she did not say why (& she did it for instant coffee).

Jay, I am using more leaf than I used to use, but not as much as usually used for gongfu. I think besides my mood changes or palate changes, the better filter for water & the higher temperature in my apartment is effecting results. The teas in my caddies which is for 2 - 5 weeks of use, are not protected from summer temperatures. (They are not in the sun but not cool either.) The last few times I had the black TGY that we bought at Muzha, it really had a lot of good green oolong freshness while still being black tea. It was not like that before the tea got more warm storage than it should.