100

Update: September 2013 – A Mystery Solved!

Why was our TDS typically only about 26 PPM when we have an RO system with a re-mineralization filter? Especially, when our water & tea taste so good!

Recently, I was reflecting on the following:
“Water with 50 – 150 ppm total dissolved solids (TDS) or 1 to 3 grains hardness provides the best results, according to the Tea Association of the USA.” http://www.teaandcoffee.net/0609/tea.htm

Background:
A water softener is required for our very hard, 450’-deep, well water. In addition, we need an RO system due to the very high level of TDS and to remove the sodium added by the water softener.

An RO system removes all the impurities and excessive dissolved solids and with it all the beneficial minerals that enhance the flavor of water. This is why we made sure to purchase an RO system that has a re-mineralization filter, a filter that adds back the beneficial minerals.

So why, why was our TDS typically only about 26 PPM when we have an RO system with a re-mineralization filter? This situation did not make sense! Both our water and tea taste great! So why wasn’t our TDS higher? I had to investigate!

When we purchased our RO system, we also ordered a TDS meter to monitor the performance of it. (http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/39474-hm-digital-dm-1-in-line-dual-tds-monitor) This meter displays the TDS both before and after the RO system. The kind folks at Abundant Flow Water installed the TDS meter for us so there was no “assembly required” (unlike children’s Christmas presents) before I installed it. Since I had not personally installed the TDS monitor, I naturally wasn’t specifically aware of where the “TDS out” sensor had been installed.

Fortunately, I installed the RO system in the basement rather than in the under-sink kitchen cabinet where it’s cramped and dark. I turned on the twin-40W florescent tube shop light in the basement, which is directly above the laundry tub & RO system and then began following water flow path through the RO.

The “TDS In” sensor was after all the pre-filters and just before the RO membrane – right where it should be located. The “TDS Out” sensor was just after the RO membrane. From an RO maintenance perspective, that made sense. TDS measurements immediately before and after the membrane are what’s used to calculate “% rejection” – the parameter that determines when to replace the RO membrane (about every 3 years).

So what about the TDS of the water we actually drink? Since the “TDS Out” sensor is immediately after the RO membrane, it is before the re-mineralization filter! In other words, the “TDS Out” reading does not include the contribution of the re-mineralization filter.

Mystery solved! We have great tasting water & tea even though the TDS meter displays 26 PPM because the “TDS Out” doesn’t include the beneficial minerals added by the Aptera filter.

Thus, all my tasting notes to date, have under reported the actual TDS value of the water used for brewing tea. The water we enjoy every day has a higher TDS value.

Based on this discovery, I’ve now added an additional fitting to our RO System so the output sensor can be located either after the RO membrane for maintenance purposes, or after the Aptera filter to monitor the TDS of water we consume.

looseTman

Thanks Thomas,
I didn’t expect any “likes” on this technically-oriented update. However, I hoped it might be helpful to others who have hard water or for those who may be interested in how water quality affects the enjoyment of tea.

mrmopar

Always a reason to like good info. It is how we all learn.

looseTman

Thanks also to mrmopar and to all took the time to read & “like” this “dry” update. I’m surprised there was this much interest.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

People who liked this

Comments

looseTman

Thanks Thomas,
I didn’t expect any “likes” on this technically-oriented update. However, I hoped it might be helpful to others who have hard water or for those who may be interested in how water quality affects the enjoyment of tea.

mrmopar

Always a reason to like good info. It is how we all learn.

looseTman

Thanks also to mrmopar and to all took the time to read & “like” this “dry” update. I’m surprised there was this much interest.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.

Profile

Bio

I am passionate about teas that are full-bodied, rich, & smooth. I joined Steepster to explore Multiple Infusion Teas (MITs) such as Pu-erh.

Currently, my focus is on un-flavored orthodox black & pu-erh teas. Cost-effective organic teas or teas that meet the EU Food Safety Commission Pesticide Maximum Residue Limit EUROFINS are also of interest.

I especially enjoy teas with a natural rich chocolate flavor profile as opposed to natural bittersweet cocoa.

Complete steeping instructions on the bag are greatly appreciated:
tsp. (g) / oz. / temp. / rinse? / min. for both Western & Gongfu brewing.

Incomplete, non-specific, or cutesy instructions such as: “Just add water and enjoy.” significantly reduces the possibility that I will purchase that particular tea.

Having to discover the optimum brewing parameters through “trial & error” is too time-inefficient, wastes valuable tea and impairs the progress and joy of tea exploration.

The best tea suppliers evaluate each crop / batch of tea each year to determine the optimum brewing parameters. This insures the best possible first impression of their tea, greatly increases customer satisfaction, and thus increases word-of-mouth advertising – the best form of advertising that money can’t buy. You never have a 2nd chance to make an Outstanding First Impression.

My wife is an Earl Grey Fan. We enjoyed Twinings for many years – mostly Earl Grey, also English/Irish Breakfast, & Prince of Wales. Several years ago, TEG no longer tasted as good.

Rishi EG & China Breakfast then became our regular teas. However, after winning Tea Expo awards, the prices kept rising.

Our most recent orders were from TeaVivre, Verdant, Zen Tea Life, & Mandala Tea. Kudos to Angel Chen, David Duckler, Kenneth Son, Garret Sorensen who have been extremely helpful.

High quality water is essential for excellent tasting tea.
Our 450’ well provides hard water. For details see: http://steepster.com/looseTman/posts/176233#comments.

Solutions:
#1. Rainsoft water softener with
Q2 computerized control valve

#2. Abundant Flow Water
Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water System with re-mineralization filter
Model: Zeta RO: https://www.afwfilters.com/drinking-ro-systems/6-stage-alkaline-zoi-zeta-reverse-osmosis-system-16.html
Includes:
- Dow Filmtec TFC R.O. membrane
- Omnipure Inline Post filter
- Puregen Aptera Alkaline Filter: http://www.puregen.com/products_detail.php?id=301&lang=en

Options:
- Aquatec ERP-500 & ASV 2000
- 3/8" Output
- HM Digital DM-1: http://www.tdsmeter.com/products/dm1.html

My profile picture is a Red-Breasted Nuthatch, an annual winter visitor to our woodpecker feeder.

Location

Mid-Atlantic, USA

Following These People

Moderator Tools

Mark as Spammer