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

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Victoria
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Sat Dec 12, 2020 5:21 pm

teasecret wrote:
Sat Dec 12, 2020 5:14 pm
Sorry to double post, but I made that toronto water recipe again, and had a great session with 2004 Biyun Hao Manzhuan. Thought it would be interesting to record some tasting notes, half about the tea, and half about the water! https://teasecrets.home.blog/2020/12/12 ... nto-water/
I'll be moving on from the toronto replication to some more "theoretical" synthetic waters around 80-100 TDS. Starting to understand the effects of each ion and the ratios between them, roughly, although there's a lot more secrets to uncover.
Would love one day to have a tasting with you comparing the different waters you are making with tea. Aside from TDS what other factors (pH, alkalinity, hardness, minerals) do you consider the most important to track and reduce or increase?
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teasecret
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Sat Dec 12, 2020 6:02 pm

Victoria wrote:
Sat Dec 12, 2020 5:21 pm
Would love one day to have a tasting with you comparing the different waters you are making with tea. Aside from TDS what other factors (pH, alkalinity, hardness, minerals) do you consider the most important to track and reduce or increase?
Great question!
With pH, a lot is dependent on the amount of dissolved CO2 in the water, so, for example, Voss water is acidic straight from the bottle, but after boiling and cooling, it measures a bit alkaline because the CO2 was boiled off. However, if you have a water with no bicarbonate, no amount of boiling will make it alkaline, unless there's something really basic in there already, like potassium or sodium hydroxide (which I prefer not to be in my water, you find that a lot in some "alkaline water"). So, in general, a pH of about 8.3 after lightly boiling is optimal, but it depends on your water composition, and 7-9 after boiling is good enough. At japanese green tea temperature, pH should be 6.5-8 I would think, as you can expect a bit more CO2 to remain in the water.

I prefer a hardness-to-alkalinity ratio between 1.2 and 1.7, depending on how heavy the water is. I like where the toronto water sits for a heavy water, at about 1.32. For medium waters around 80-100 TDS, 1.5 seems pretty good. If it's below 1, I know some people like that kind of water, but I find the flavor to be too subdued, eaten up by the bicarbonate.

As for other mineral ions, like sodium, sulfate and chloride, you can really vary the character of the water and tea a lot with these. Potassium is drying in large amounts, so it's best to keep potassium below 5% of the water's mineral content. A little bit increases depth. Obviously, if the sodium and chloride are too high, the water will taste salty, and too much sulfate will probably make the water harsh and bitter with tea.

The biggest thing is that if you want to mess with mineral content, you can't just chuck some minerals in randomly - water composition is very sensitive, and it's best to modify the mineral content of water in a precise and appropriate way, to hit a certain sulfate to chloride ratio, or hardness to alkalinity ratio, or calcium to magnesium ratio. That being said, try adding 30 mg/L gypsum to your water if you want some oomph, and try adding 15 mg/L baking soda to smooth it out, just as a demonstration of what these minerals can do.

I would love to do that kind of tasting, side by side with two waters. You get to appreciate different sides of a tea sometimes that way.
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teasecret
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Wed Dec 30, 2020 5:27 pm

New post on a new water recipe collaboration with Empirical Tea, complete with tasting notes and ratings. Planning on doing this kind of thing weekly. Let me know what you think of it!

https://teasecrets.home.blog/2020/12/30 ... serum-1-0/

Here is Arby's post on the water recipe also. Some great in depth info there on his process.

http://empiricaltea.com/water-recipe-truth-serum-v1-2/
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Rickpatbrown
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Thu Dec 31, 2020 10:20 am

teasecret wrote:
Wed Dec 30, 2020 5:27 pm
New post on a new water recipe collaboration with Empirical Tea, complete with tasting notes and ratings. Planning on doing this kind of thing weekly. Let me know what you think of it!

https://teasecrets.home.blog/2020/12/30 ... serum-1-0/

Here is Arby's post on the water recipe also. Some great in depth info there on his process.

http://empiricaltea.com/water-recipe-truth-serum-v1-2/
This is fantastic! I fully support this approach.

Its interesting that you are looking at differnet teas with the same water. I would have done the opposite, 3 waters with one tea. I think it would be easier to taste the effects of different water than trying to recall back to a previous day/week session.

You mention that your conductivity measurements are off. If you are using a TDS meter, they are calibrated with a know analyte (probably NaCl) so it depends on valency and molecular weight of the components that you add. That is my guess.

I'd be interested in using CaCO3 dissolved in carbonated water. I can get almost 1g/L to dissolve in my 800mL sodastream bottle. I'll add about 45g of this stock to water for a tea session. I keep CaCO3 and KHCO3 concentrates next to my scale and making water is really easy. I would suggest using concentrated stocks, instead of measuring milligrams. Most people dont have access to such accurate scales.

I also get a little lost in all of the tasting notes. It's hard for me to see the difference between lists of (peach, hay, stone, incense ... etc.). I'd like to see more geneal statements about thickness, floral, vegetable, earthy, perfume, chemically. Having a few categories of descriptors and giving then an intensity rating (1-5, maybe) could make the information easier to digest. The coffee industry does this pretty well.

Great work! I look forward to seeing all you results when the series is complete.
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Rickpatbrown
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Thu Dec 31, 2020 10:25 am

Here is an example from Sweet Maria's coffee website
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Pulled from https://www.sweetmarias.com/panama-dry- ... -6673.html
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teasecret
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Thu Dec 31, 2020 11:09 am

Rickpatbrown wrote:
Thu Dec 31, 2020 10:20 am


This is fantastic! I fully support this approach.

Its interesting that you are looking at differnet teas with the same water. I would have done the opposite, 3 waters with one tea. I think it would be easier to taste the effects of different water than trying to recall back to a previous day/week session.

You mention that your conductivity measurements are off. If you are using a TDS meter, they are calibrated with a know analyte (probably NaCl) so it depends on valency and molecular weight of the components that you add. That is my guess.

I'd be interested in using CaCO3 dissolved in carbonated water. I can get almost 1g/L to dissolve in my 800mL sodastream bottle. I'll add about 45g of this stock to water for a tea session. I keep CaCO3 and KHCO3 concentrates next to my scale and making water is really easy. I would suggest using concentrated stocks, instead of measuring milligrams. Most people dont have access to such accurate scales.

I also get a little lost in all of the tasting notes. It's hard for me to see the difference between lists of (peach, hay, stone, incense ... etc.). I'd like to see more geneal statements about thickness, floral, vegetable, earthy, perfume, chemically. Having a few categories of descriptors and giving then an intensity rating (1-5, maybe) could make the information easier to digest. The coffee industry does this pretty well.

Great work! I look forward to seeing all you results when the series is complete.
Thanks for reading and glad you liked it! I've been doing some side by side cuppings thanks to Marshaln's suggestion - 2 waters, same tea. Could do three with another kettle too. I do like doing three teas with one water also, just to gauge general enjoyment.

I figured out how to calculate conductivity based on each ion’s concentration and molar conductivity, so I think it’s probably my meter or my constants may be wrong for bicarbonate.

That’s super cool that you make concentrates and add them to your water, do you add to tap? And do you know the mineral content of the tap water you add it to?

As for concentrates, that would be good - I’ll figure out how people can make these recipes with a concentrate and a regular .01 gram scale. I’ll also try to use more general descriptors as you said.
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Rickpatbrown
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Thu Dec 31, 2020 12:55 pm

I've been using some spring water I collect from a roadside spring in southern Pa. It's relatively pure with a TDS of 20ppm. I have some concerns about bacteria contamination and it's a PITA to collect it, so I'm switching to distilled water.

Distilled from Target is $0.65/gallon. The only thing is all the plastic. I looked into an RO unit, but I'm renting now and it would require a little too much modification.

The concentrates are nice, also, because I have diffenet water for espresso, pour over coffee and tea.

I've been meaning to do these experiments, but they sound like a lot of work. It would be fun to do with a friend, but ... COVID 🙁
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Rickpatbrown
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Fri Jan 01, 2021 3:41 pm

I guess I should start contributing a little more:

2018 Dong Ding competition 2 flowers
I've drank close to a kilogram of this tea in the past 2 years. Generally, I find it to be ok. Kind of watery, but pleasant.

I tested 3 waters
#1) [0] Distilled water
#2) [low]
#3) [high]

#2 was made with 1.5L of distilled water plus 5mL KHCO3 [1g/10mL] plus 48mL CaCO3 (~1g/L, carbonated in sodastream). I split this water in half and to one portion:

#3 was 750mL of #2 plus 2.5mL KHCO3 and 25mL CaCO3 in order to double the concentration.

Using a TDS meter
#1) 0 ppm
#2) 68 ppm
#3) 106 ppm

I used 3.0 g of tea in each 30 mL gaiwan.
Water was boiled and kept at 200-205F in multiple kettles.
Warmed gaiwans with respective kettle water. No rinse.
1st and 2nd steep were 1 minute each.
3rd steep was 2.5 minutes
4th steep was 15 minutes.

Basically, the trend kept for all steeping progression. The distilled water was the worst. The aroma of the wet leaves was least. The flavor was the least. Liquor was thin and empty. The [low] had thicker mouthfeel and much more flavor. The [high] had the thickest mouthfeel, but seemed muted compared to the [low].

A big thing with Dong Ding is the aroma structure. When you taste good DD, the flavor goes up into your head and blooms like an ice crystal growing. The distilled water structure hit the roof of my mouth and a bit into the nose, but stopped. The [low] traveled higher and bloomed ok. The [high] was almost non existant.

Pushing the steep yielded stronger infusions for each, but the distilled water produced unpleasant l, metallic, astringent effects. I was never able to get rid of the thin tasting water.

Conclusion:
It seems that the general recommendation of intermediate hardness is a good one ... at least for this DD. This is a very simple recipe and there are already a lot of questions. For one, I dont know the exact concentration of CaCO3. When I add 1g/900mL of water and then carbonate, there is a small amount of powder that does not dissolve. There seems to be more precipitate as the CO2 leaves the water over the course of a week or two. There is also a pH component. That is after all how the CaCO3 dissolves in the acidic CO2/H20. I assume that the bicarbonate buffers this, but I don't know. I'll have to actually measure the pH one day.

The other problem here, is that I dont have a very subtle palate.

From left to right) [0], [low] and [high]
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Rickpatbrown
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Fri Jan 01, 2021 3:56 pm

After all that work ... a proper session is needed. Mixed all the remaining water and pulled out a thick 100mL stone pot. Jammed it with 8g :D
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Victoria
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Fri Jan 01, 2021 4:51 pm

Thanks for sharing that side by side experiment @Rickpatbrown, definitely interesting. My filtered tap water here has high TDS, +-180, but is still very good with DongDing and most other teas, so specific factors like alkalinity, calcium etc must be equally important.
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Rickpatbrown
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Fri Jan 01, 2021 7:43 pm

Victoria wrote:
Fri Jan 01, 2021 4:51 pm
Thanks for sharing that side by side experiment Rickpatbrown, definitely interesting. My filtered tap water here has high TDS, +-180, but is still very good with DongDing and most other teas, so specific factors like alkalinity, calcium etc must be equally important.
Yes. Things are definitely more wecomplicated than my simple experiment. Teasecret is getting much mor into the weeds by adding many more additives. Each ion (iron, magnesium, calcium, chloride) will interact with flavor compunds differently. It will be a lot of work to experiment through the possible permutations with my method.

When I use Poland Springs (TDS ~45) and add a little bit of bicarb and CaCO3, I get much different result by starting with 20ppm Pennsylvania spring water or with distilled water, even though they all have similar TDS in the end.

I feel starting with distilled and adding the least amount of components is what we are shooting for. If tea drinkers everywhere could have access to a basic canvas, it would be easier to share tea knowledge across the internet.
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Psyck
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Sat Jan 02, 2021 4:49 am

Generally speaking, lighter teas do well with lighter water and darker teas do well with heavier (more minerals) water. I have come to prefer water with TDS a little below 100 as a generic balanced one suitable for most teas.

Since tap is not an option for me, I prepare mineral concentrates and add them to RO water with recipes based on tips from user Teasecret. Thus if I so desire it is easy to dilute it or concentrate it to the range I want for a particular tea type.

It is not as much work as it may sound - since once you finalise a recipe you can prepare water in bulk and hence it only requires a few minutes of effort once in a while. The actual real work of experimenting for years with different combinations I leave to the nerds like Teasecret - I simply utilise the fruits of their valuable research.

If your tap is good, then you can still experiment in reducing TDS by simply diluting it with distilled/RO water or boiling it for a while to increase TDS. Trying out your favourite teas with a range of waters is certainly a path every tea connoisseur should take at some time.
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teasecret
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Sat Jan 02, 2021 12:09 pm

Thanks @Rickpatbrown for the experiment! That all makes sense to me. Probably with the medium strength water, the "pure water taste" was able to come through with all of its fragrance, without getting too muted by any excess bicarbonates, and the calcium hardness was there to extract a nice presence.

I also noticed that my CaCO3 concentrate is often cloudy, even at only half a gram per 900ml. No idea why this would be, as MgCO3 concentrate is totally clear, but less useful.

Here is another recipe with new tasting notes. I tried to keep to a similar format, swapping out the fragrant tea but keeping the two puers the same. This kind of post is just to give a general idea of the character of the water - side by side cuppings will also be posted on instagram and/or the blog soon. I will try coming up with a set of metrics for those, possibly.
https://teasecrets.home.blog/2021/01/02 ... 2-3-heavy/
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Rickpatbrown
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Sat Jan 02, 2021 4:53 pm

teasecret wrote:
Sat Jan 02, 2021 12:09 pm

I also noticed that my CaCO3 concentrate is often cloudy, even at only half a gram per 900ml. No idea why this would be, as MgCO3 concentrate is totally clear, but less useful.

https://teasecrets.home.blog/2021/01/02 ... 2-3-heavy/
Were you using MgCO3 or MgSO4? The former should be almost as insoluble as CaCO3 at pH 7. The later is soluble. Most coffee recipes rely in MgSO4 for the divalent metal ion because of this. They also avoid chlorides because they negatively affect taste and also corrode espresso machines.

An interesting observation comparing coffee to tea is that tea is WAAAYYY more sensitive to water than coffee. I think its because coffee adds so much more to the water, it seems to have a bigger window of acceptability. Dont get me wrong. You need good water for coffee, too. It's just easier to get to.

Since I'm going for the bottom up approach, I should actually start out with just bicarb. I worry that the pH will be off, though.

For those who have amazing water, you should really be grateful. This is like trying to shoot a moving target while blindfolded, backwards and drunk!

@teasecret probably has the smarter approach ... to replicate good water.
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teasecret
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Sat Jan 02, 2021 5:06 pm

Rickpatbrown wrote:
Sat Jan 02, 2021 4:53 pm
teasecret wrote:
Sat Jan 02, 2021 12:09 pm

I also noticed that my CaCO3 concentrate is often cloudy, even at only half a gram per 900ml. No idea why this would be, as MgCO3 concentrate is totally clear, but less useful.

https://teasecrets.home.blog/2021/01/02 ... 2-3-heavy/
Were you using MgCO3 or MgSO4? The former should be almost as insoluble as CaCO3 at pH 7. The later is soluble. Most coffee recipes rely in MgSO4 for the divalent metal ion because of this. They also avoid chlorides because they negatively affect taste and also corrode espresso machines.

An interesting observation comparing coffee to tea is that tea is WAAAYYY more sensitive to water than coffee. I think its because coffee adds so much more to the water, it seems to have a bigger window of acceptability. Dont get me wrong. You need good water for coffee, too. It's just easier to get to.

Since I'm going for the bottom up approach, I should actually start out with just bicarb. I worry that the pH will be off, though.

For those who have amazing water, you should really be grateful. This is like trying to shoot a moving target while blindfolded, backwards and drunk!

teasecret probably has the smarter approach ... to replicate good water.
I meant using a sodastream with MgCO3 and CaCO3, I get slight cloudiness with CaCO3 and no cloudiness with MgCO3 after a day in the fridge.
One goal is to replicate good water, but the main goal is to synthesize even better water...
I recommend using some sulfates or chlorides - with just bicarbonates, your hardness to alkalinity ratio will never go above 1, which I think is the low point for tea water, with best results at 1.2 and higher. That's where my recipes usually lie, and waters that I like, such as volvic, acqua panna, poland spring origin, diluted pellegrino, etc.
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