Water Water Everywhere... What’s Your Water?

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Baisao
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Tue Mar 14, 2023 12:43 pm

bentz98125 wrote:
Sat Mar 11, 2023 8:36 pm
pedant wrote:
Tue Jul 06, 2021 11:42 am
Bok wrote:
Mon Jul 05, 2021 9:05 pm
Speaking of... it is also that people do go up in arms over the tiniest threat to their perceived right to bear dangerous firearms, but do not care enough for the water that keeps them alive.
entering political territory...
Hope I'm not the only one to see the ironic hilarity in this turn of the thread. Maybe you have to be a child of the western United States to understand (but I don't think so) that water is not for drinking never mind brewing tea. That's what whiskey is for and water as everyone knows, is for fighting. Which is where guns come in. The fact that we on this forum find meaning discussing the intricacies of brewing tea with a variety of different waters we have access to, is a profound political statement (having to do with privilege and good fortune) all on its own!
Well said.

The deplorable state of municipal water in the US makes the subject political since these are municipalities attempting to meet poor federal and local standards: it’s generally potable and won’t cause severe illnesses if you live in affluent areas. There are large cities in the US, impoverished cities, with famously unhealthy water.

Having water that tastes nice is an afterthought. Our government can’t reliably produce water that doesn’t have heavy metals, radiation, or unsafe flora.

Then there’s a third of the US that lives in rural areas with personally maintained septic and well water. The septic systems frequently enough are faulty and seep into the ground water.

These aren’t merely news items. I’ve seen and experienced all of these things myself.

So not only does our government not provide tasty water, it can’t be relied on to provide safe water.
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Bok
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Wed Mar 15, 2023 1:49 am

For the French speakers/readers among us and it just so happens to fit into our discussion
https://impactco2.fr/boisson

Interesting study how much water is used to produce tea, coffee, beer – and bottled water. Preliminary good result for our conscience, it seems that tea uses the least water among them, even less than bottled water!

So tap or tea.
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wave_code
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Wed Mar 15, 2023 3:54 pm

Interesting @@Bok

I've been making my recent project figuring out a way to get off the bottled water as much as possible. Though while learning about reverse osmosis you find it also can produce quite a substantial amount of it if you don't have a decently efficient system set up. It can at least be used for things like watering your plants, etc though...

To be honest at least for now the issue of getting and weighing out all these minerals, making sure I'm getting decent quality food grade ones, some of them being hard to dissolve... it was kind of intimidating and off-putting because my end goal here is making good tea not water as its own end. So my goal has been to find a mineral water or combination of really concentrated mineral waters that I could mix in to reverse osmosis water instead. I've been experimenting with distilled water and feel I'm getting reasonably close so I'll be switching to an R-O system very soon. It has been really tricky though. With two or even three water mixtures I can hit what look like almost identical numbers to my current bottled waters of choice combo - and yet it tastes totally different. Or you think you have something almost dialed in, try tweaking things a bit and it goes in a totally different direction than anticipated. I'm using mineral waters I'll need in small quantity so I'm talking about using 15-40ml per liter, so I'll be able to mix up 5-10L batches using just two returnable glass bottles or less for that. I've been trying to figure out what is missing or off, but its a task. I think some of it might have to do with how the pH might shift, so I need to get some strips to check the levels there. The other is probably the difficult world of chemistry - maybe I have the same amount of sulfates as my target recipe... but what are those sulfates and in what concentrations? Maybe the ones in one water are substantially different from those in another and how they may combine and interact. Also that there might be other things other than what tend to be listed on the bottle are contributing, even if not substantially, to the TDS of a bottled water that when starting from distilled h2o are missing and make it taste flat or two dimensional. One test combo might be right and have decent aroma but way over-extract the tea, another might offer more even brewing but under-extract. I'll be happy when its sorted out enough that I can get back to enjoying my nicer teas and be done with this taking up so much of that time, but being able to do it in a more planet friendly way will be nice.
Ethan Kurland
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Wed Mar 15, 2023 6:02 pm

I & some other members use sterasyl ceramic filters which have granulated charcoal inside of them. My tabletop set up holds about 6 liters of water in the top w/ 2 of these filters. (The top has 4 holes but 2 are plugged because my water is not terribly bad.) 2 new filters cost under $60 & might last me a year. (I clean them a few times.)

In the early life of the filters, almost all of the water makes it to the bottom section (the resevoir) but as the filters age, some remains unfiltered above to be used as regular tap water (or if one is not avoiding waste totally, poured down a drain).

I bought my set up used. It is British Berkefeld which became Big Berkey, but several companies offer what is pretty close to 2 big aluminum cans. Big Berkey stopped selling ceramic filters but a few companies have the size I need. You can research Europe's providers.

My tap water is not really dirty or dangerous but does not taste good. For tea & drinking water, the filtered water is my choice. The only bottled water that impressed me for noticeably better tea is Fuji. (Someone gave me a couple of bottles. I wouldn't buy it.) Truely processed r.o. water is close to distilled water without enough minerals for tea's flavors to cling to. The water filtered w/ what I like makes excellent tea. Good luck.
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d.manuk
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Sat May 27, 2023 3:34 pm

I need water brand recommendations for Texas, just moved here and there's no Poland Spring available it seems.
Do we have any Texan users?

So far I haven't gotten lucky:

Crystal Geyser - tea tastes flat
Gold Emblem - seems to do well with low and mid notes in a tea but seems to mute the high notes
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Baisao
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Sat May 27, 2023 7:33 pm

d.manuk wrote:
Sat May 27, 2023 3:34 pm
I need water brand recommendations for Texas, just moved here and there's no Poland Spring available it seems.
Do we have any Texan users?

So far I haven't gotten lucky:

Crystal Geyser - tea tastes flat
Gold Emblem - seems to do well with low and mid notes in a tea but seems to mute the high notes
Go to Walgreens and get Iceland Pure spring water. It’s in 1 and 1.5l bottles. Best I’ve found.
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Kawaramono
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Sat May 27, 2023 7:50 pm

@ d.manuk

Hey there, I'm new to the forum; but having come from a modern specialty coffee background, have some reasonable experience comparing / deciphering water profiles, conducting taste tests, etc. When I run into some time, I'm looking forward to sharing some of my findings and (anecdotal) results in a more broadly helpful way -- though luckily much of what I have found echoes the experiences of the few other dorks that have posted online on the specific topic of water composition for tea (here, and elsewhere).

To cut to the chase and potentially actually help you though, I would recommend trying to track down:

- Trader Joe's Pure New Zealand Artesian Water (comes in big looking blue jugs)

OR

- Walgreens: Nice! Iceland Pure Spring Water (The walgreens selection is arbitrary, though you have them in Dallas. Just be on the lookout at various convenience / grocery stores for spring water that list Iceland as its source. The same source is bottled and sold as various generic or house brands throughout the country it seems; hopefully you can track it down)

Price is reasonable for both options, all things considered - and they are quite suitable for tea. Clear flavor, though provide thicker mouthfeel from the specific mineral composition. Both are heavier than Poland spring in that regard, but not inferior, just different: more body.

Also check out "Origin" by Poland Spring, if you find it somewhere (walmart?) - it appears that's a national scale launch / rebrand of poland spring, though I'm not sure how widely available, it is - that should give you more or less the same light & clear presentation as original P.S. in the brewed tea soup.

More " dorks only / too much information" on the topic soon, but I hope you can track at least one of the above waters down and they give you some improved performance!
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Baiyun
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Sat May 27, 2023 7:51 pm

Even when one can't always get water from the centre of a clear mountain stream and wishes for the finest, I could never justify the supply chain logistics and volume of trash produced when buying bottled water or water containers in a location where single or double filtering tap water is acceptable.

I appreciate some in the US, and other poorly regulated countries, have tap water health concerns, going up in flames and whatnot, so this is obviously a line to draw where other arrangements become necessary.

Whilst I have experimented with a lot of premium bottled spring waters and once thought I'd reserve that for my most expensive and sensitive teas, and messed around a bit with charcoal stored water, my water for all teas now is just straight double filtered tap water. I found that taste adapts to the water one is used to anyway and it is a lot less decadent of an operation.
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Baisao
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Sat May 27, 2023 8:07 pm

Baiyun wrote:
Sat May 27, 2023 7:51 pm
Even when one can't always get water from the centre of a clear mountain stream and wishes for the finest, I could never justify the supply chain logistics and volume of trash produced when buying bottled water or water containers in a location where single or double filtering tap water is acceptable.

I appreciate some in the US, and other poorly regulated countries, have tap water health concerns, going up in flames and whatnot, so this is obviously a line to draw where other arrangements become necessary.

Whilst I have experimented with a lot of premium bottled spring waters and once thought I'd reserve that for my most expensive and sensitive teas, and messed around a bit with charcoal stored water, my water for all teas now is just straight double filtered tap water. I found that taste adapts to the water one is used to anyway and it is a lot less decadent of an operation.
I think there’s been quite enough preaching about bottled water already, blaming consumers instead of multinational corporations that are responsible for the lion’s share of negative environmental impacts. Wear a hair shirt if you’d like, but don’t expect the rest of us to wear them with you.

US water is terrible and Texas has long been considered as having the worst in the nation. From the Houston Chronicle:

“Texas has the most contaminated water in the country, according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

“This finding was included in a report claiming more than 170 million Americans in all 50 states have been exposed to radioactive elements in their water. The report includes analysis EWG claims it conducted of public water systems in the U.S. from 2010 to 2015.

“‘EWG's Tap Water Database compiles results of water quality tests for almost 50,000 utilities nationwide,’ EWG added on its website. ‘EWG also mapped the nationwide occurrence of radium, the most common radioactive element found in tap water. From 2010 to 2015, more than 22,000 utilities serving over 170 million people in all 50 states reported the presence of radium in their water.’

“EWG's report claims that Texas has the most widespread contamination affecting more than 3,500 utilities serving 22 million people. The contamination included detectable levels of radium-226 and radium-228.”

https://www.chron.com/news/houston-texa ... 490763.php

The water is generally safe to drink in Austin but it smells like chloramine and sometimes smells like fish food. Boil water notices are frequent here because of flooding, broken pipes, construction, and mismanagement.
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Baiyun
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Sat May 27, 2023 8:16 pm

@Baisao I didn't read through this thread in any detail to be fair, but I did specifically say that health concerns due to poor tap water are "obviously a line to draw where other arrangements become necessary", acknowledging this to be a problem in the US well known beyond its borders, so I think that addresses the issues you cited.

I lived in two European countries where we had some of the finest tap water and it was just an unquestioned practice of just about every household to lug around 6 packs of 1.5l plastic bottles, which is silly. Granted, a recycling refund system was in place and most people did that, but it's still strange when we strip it all back to the basic facts.
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Baisao
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Sat May 27, 2023 8:24 pm

Baiyun wrote:
Sat May 27, 2023 8:16 pm
Baisao I didn't read through this thread in any detail to be fair, but I did specifically say that health concerns due to poor tap water are "obviously a line to draw where other arrangements become necessary", acknowledging this to be a problem in the US well known beyond its borders, so I think that addresses the issues you cited.

I lived in two European countries where we had some of the finest tap water and it was just an unquestioned practice of just about every household to lug around 6 packs of 1.5l plastic bottles, which is silly. Granted, a recycling refund system was in place and most people did that, but it's still strange when we strip it all back to the basic facts.
Fair enough. My apologies.
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Baiyun
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Sat May 27, 2023 9:04 pm

No dramas, I am sorry to hear about these water issues, and that something so utterly fundamental is not under reliable control.
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d.manuk
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Sun May 28, 2023 10:19 am

Certain levels of TDS actually make for better tea — I can’t use filtered tap water for brewing my usual teas which are usually at least $0.50/g because the taste would be pretty flat. Otherwise I might as well drink something cheaper because it would taste pretty similar.

Trying the Nice! Iceland Pure Spring Water now... it's certainly better than the other 2 I mentioned, and I feel like I get a clear flavor of the full range of tea even more than with Poland Spring. My only complaint is that the mouthfeel seems to be on the thin side, but will need to test with more teas.
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Baisao
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Sun May 28, 2023 1:32 pm

d.manuk wrote:
Sun May 28, 2023 10:19 am
Trying the Nice! Iceland Pure Spring Water now... it's certainly better than the other 2 I mentioned, and I feel like I get a clear flavor of the full range of tea even more than with Poland Spring. My only complaint is that the mouthfeel seems to be on the thin side, but will need to test with more teas.
The TDS is lower than the others you’ve tried and more inline with the TDS of the waters one of my friends uses in Taiwan. The lower TDS allows “room” for the pectins to give body to the tea so that the tea isn’t overly thick.

If you want to try this yourself get a winter harvest gaoshan (high pectin) and try it back to back with Iceland Pure (TDS 44) and Fiji (TDS 250).

My experience is the high pectin and high TDS give an unpleasantly thick body, kind of a tone on tone aesthetic. It is unusual for a very low pectin tea to be good. So a lower TDS water will generally work ideally with all better quality teas, even the extreme ones like a winter harvest gaoshan.
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Kawaramono
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Sun May 28, 2023 1:49 pm

d.manuk wrote:
Sun May 28, 2023 10:19 am
Certain levels of TDS actually make for better tea — I can’t use filtered tap water for brewing my usual teas which are usually at least $0.50/g because the taste would be pretty flat. Otherwise I might as well drink something cheaper because it would taste pretty similar.

Trying the Nice! Iceland Pure Spring Water now... it's certainly better than the other 2 I mentioned, and I feel like I get a clear flavor of the full range of tea even more than with Poland Spring. My only complaint is that the mouthfeel seems to be on the thin side, but will need to test with more teas.
The Trader Joe's New Zealand Artesian is going to be significantly higher TDS (150) than the Icelandic water; however worth noting that its hardness is still low (12 ppm), and has unusually high alkalinity / carbonates (114 ppm) for waters that work well with teas. Those will provide you with the extra body you're looking for, while still remaining clear in flavor. Something like Fiji is going to have high alkalinity & high hardness, and in my experience will just fully "weigh down" and dull the taste of most teas (even though it tastes wonderful on its own as a drinking water, it be like that with chemistry sometimes... :roll: )

glad you've found some progress so far though!
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