Water Quality in the US
Time and again I have read about the importance of water in getting the most out of Tea. I am doing some research into the quality of water in my area and the most economical way to get filtered water. I have run across a number of interesting links I thought some of you may find useful.
Here is an interesting table on water quality in the US: EWG’s Top-Rated and Lowest-Rated Water Utilities – 2009 – http://www.ewg.org/tap-water/ Near the top right-hand part of the above page you can enter you zip code in the text-box below the title, What’s in your water? to find data about your area. I read though all the data for my area, and honestly I don’t know at the moment how this relates to how it affects my tea. I did see that the amount of chloroform (which, if I understand it correctly, may indicate the presence of chlorine) exceeded the Health Limit, but was considerably below the Legal Limit.
I also discovered (in this data or somewhere else) that the water in my area is hard and high in pH. I can’t remember if either hard water or soft water is better, or if low pH or high pH is better.
Here is a water filter buying guide (dated February 27, 2013) – http://www.ewg.org/report/ewgs-water-filter-buying-guide
If you have or know of any other interesting information (websites, books, etc.) about water quality (especially as it applies to how it impacts the flavor of tea), I invite you to share it here.
If you ever ask a Chinese tea fanatic about the best water to use for brewing, she will most likely say, “It’s best to use water from the spring from which the tea comes.”
In my experience, spring water gets the best flavor out of pure tea leaves. I’m pretty sure it is basic in quality. This makes sense, since tea is basic, and if the water is acidic is would react poorly with the tea. So yes, I think harder water is better. Spring water is best, and filtered water is the next best option. I always hear that tap water should be avoided if at all possible.
chadao: Glad to see you are posting again!
I hear you on the spring water. I have read that before, and it makes complete sense.
So, the more acidic the water, the worse it is for the Tea? Hard water is good? Those are the things I am currently researching. Glad to hear it from you, though. Thanks!
This is an interesting article I just ran into about the best water for tea: http://teaguardian.com/how-to-make-tea/water.html#.U5YfoSjb7Ic
This author states that he prefers “a rather neutral pH water with very slight alkaline inclination (i.e. 7.5~8 approximately) such that there is the least influence on the tea while maintaining a pleasant taste.” I believe 7 is neutral on the pH scale?
Here is another great article on tea and water: http://theteamaestro.blogspot.com/2010/10/good-water-for-tea.html
In terms of bottled water, I found a few things.
Here is an article about how bottle waters rate: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/greenhouse/post/2011/01/bottled-water-lack-key-data/1#.U5YsWCjb7Ic
Here is the Water Analysis Report for Ice Mountain Natural Spring water: http://www.nestle-watersna.com/asset-library/Documents/IM_BWQR.pdf I notice both the pH level and the TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) level have significant ranges: 5.6 – 8.2 and 42 – 250 PPM respectively.
I just used the Brita pitcher to filter water that I used to brew an Anji Baicha that we always enjoy (using straight tap water), and strangely, the tea has little color, and almost no taste. I double checked the water temp to make sure it is what I normally use (170 – 180F), and the amount of tea is the same, and the steeping times are the same. I don’t know, perhaps the filter is removing things that normally interact with the tea to give it flavor? Wierd.
Does anyone have any suggestions on why this would be?