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

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Victoria
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Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:53 pm

teasecret wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 1:12 pm
After some more experience I'm noticing some things.
1) Having more bicarbonate than magnesium and calcium seems to be good.
2) Putting your water in an unglazed clay jar improves roundness, at the expense of imparting some flavor to your water. This could dissipate with repeated use.
3) I've stopped mineralizing my water because it already has a lot of taste and I don't want to add more taste to the water.
4) Castle Rock bottled water is extremely good. Also much too expensive for daily use.
5) Tap water contains metal and plastic taste from the long journey it has had through pipes.
6) Perhaps some good charcoal in the earthenware jar will remove any off taste. Or just charcoal in a glass bottle.
7) If the charcoal removes the off taste in the water, rendering it very pure-tasting, then I would consider adding minerals to adjust the water.
8) People have contacted me saying they will try the 75 75 75 water recipe with RO water. I await the results!
9) Distilled water comes in plastic milk jugs, so I have not considered using it, as it has tons of plastic flavor.
It's clear I have a lot of work to do. If anyone has experience in these areas, please let me know. Water is proving to be a very deep, very fun rabbit hole.
It’s interesting that you are inspired to analyse and experiment with your local Brooklyn tap water. I wonder if your buildings pipes are an issue. New York City, and it’s boroughs like Brooklyn, has some of the best city water in the US. Most of its water coming from the the Catskills mountains and Hudson valley. Also, interesting it is not filtered, but is disenfected with UV light and Chlorine, added is; Sodium Hydroxide is to raise pH, Fluoride for teeth :cry: , Phosphoric acid to protect pipes. http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/pdf/wsstate17.pdf

NYC tap water:
TDS: 68
pH: 7.4
Alkalinity 19.2
Calcium: 7.3
Magnesium: 1.7
Sodium: 12

Castle Rock, bottled water you like;
TDS: 100
pH: 6.6
Alkalinity 54
Calcium: 11
Magnesium: 4.7
Sodium: 7

Iceland Spring, bottled water a few of us like.
TDS 53
pH 8.89
Alkalinity 25
Calcium 4.8
Magnesium .91
Sodium 12

Your tap water looks very good. A good water filter, and added bamboo charcoal stick, should be enough to eliminate off smells, contaminates and residue from pipes.

So my question is atm; which aspects of water are the most important to tea? pH, TDS, Alkalinity, Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium ?
Another quandary is; Which water paired with Which tea. This is another important component to identify. Some teas perform better with lower TDS, others higher alkalinity, calcium, sodium... some even shine with distilled water :o .
Eventually, I’d like to make a comparison chart to locate at the beginning of this topic.
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teasecret
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Fri Jan 25, 2019 10:10 am

Great post Victoria. We should notice how low these mineral numbers are. There are water recipes out there that have you adding 1.1 grams of epsom salt to a gallon. This is around 300mg/L which I think is ludicrous for tea. A little goes a long way.
I've updated my water recipe to 100 mg baking soda, 75 mg calcium chloride, and 50 mg epsom salt. The result, when added to NYC tap water, is a great mouthfeel and balance that really surprised me today.
I'm buying some high grade charcoal for water tonight, so I'll work on exploring that in the coming days. Perhaps when impurities are removed by the charcoal, the water will be perfect without minerals. Only one way to find out!
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Baisao
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Fri Jan 25, 2019 10:24 am

teasecret wrote:
Fri Jan 25, 2019 10:10 am
Great post Victoria. We should notice how low these mineral numbers are. There are water recipes out there that have you adding 1.1 grams of epsom salt to a gallon. This is around 300mg/L which I think is ludicrous for tea. A little goes a long way.
I've updated my water recipe to 100 mg baking soda, 75 mg calcium chloride, and 50 mg epsom salt. The result, when added to NYC tap water, is a great mouthfeel and balance that really surprised me today.
I'm buying some high grade charcoal for water tonight, so I'll work on exploring that in the coming days. Perhaps when impurities are removed by the charcoal, the water will be perfect without minerals. Only one way to find out!
Decades ago a group of us used to distill beverages and noticed that there was universal improvement in letting them rest for a minimum of three months. We even noticed that simple mixtures improved with rest, such as adding spring water to high proof ethanol to make "instant" vodka. This needed up to six months to begin to taste smooth.

Do you feel that your homemade "spring" water improves with months of rest?
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teasecret
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Fri Jan 25, 2019 12:36 pm

Baisao wrote:
Fri Jan 25, 2019 10:24 am
Do you feel that your homemade "spring" water improves with months of rest?
I would have to wait that long to see! I do keep it refrigerated to prevent any mold. When I start using the charcoal I'm sure there will be an optimum rest time for that. At the very least, the minerals have to dissolve. I predict rest would be good, because the three minerals I put in react together in all sorts of different ways, and then the products of those reactions probably react with each other much more slowly.
the 50 75 100 water is tasting prettty dang smooth right now though and I made it yesterday.
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debunix
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Fri Jan 25, 2019 3:32 pm

teasecret wrote:
Thu Jan 24, 2019 1:12 pm
5) Tap water contains metal and plastic taste from the long journey it has had through pipes.
Bottled water may contain plastic taste from long sitting in plastic bottles.....
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Victoria
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Fri Jan 25, 2019 4:52 pm

teasecret wrote:
Fri Jan 25, 2019 10:10 am
Great post Victoria. We should notice how low these mineral numbers are. There are water recipes out there that have you adding 1.1 grams of epsom salt to a gallon. This is around 300mg/L which I think is ludicrous for tea. A little goes a long way.
I've updated my water recipe to 100 mg baking soda, 75 mg calcium chloride, and 50 mg epsom salt. The result, when added to NYC tap water, is a great mouthfeel and balance that really surprised me today.
I'm buying some high grade charcoal for water tonight, so I'll work on exploring that in the coming days. Perhaps when impurities are removed by the charcoal, the water will be perfect without minerals. Only one way to find out!
Hi teasecret, are you keeping your introduce yourself a secret :) , I can’t find it. Wondering how long you’ve been drinking tea, and which teas you enjoy most? Also, for your water experiments which teas are you using as a baseline to measure against? Depending on the tea more or less TDS, alkalinity, minerals, pH will be optimal.

The higher the mineral count, the higher the TDS count will be, leading to hard water and more tannic and harsh tea sessions. TDS measures all the dissolved inorganic solids, minerals, as well as metals, salts, and other impurities. I’m not seeing why you are adding minerals into your filtered tap water? NYC tap seems to have enough cal/mag already. But then I also see you have chosen a bottled water (Castle Rock) with higher cal/mag levels.

The lower the mineral count, as in RO (Reverse Osmosis) water, leads to soft water and a flat and lifeless tea session. Tea needs a certain amount of minerals, but not too much.

Then there is water pH.....
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Victoria
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Sun Jan 27, 2019 5:25 pm

We received a nice reply from Iceland Spring regarding their water analysis and if there is a difference between the Iceland Spring water that they sell at Walgreens, Whole Foods, CVS, Vitamin Shoppe etc. under different names.
Subject: Re: Water Analysis of your Iceland Spring Water

Hi Victoria

My apologies for the delay in replying, our Quality Manager is away.

Actually all the waters from Iceland Spring are from the same Iceland Spring source. Walgreens Nice!Iceland Pure, CVS LAVA, Vitamin Shoppe Iceland Natural, Rite Aid Glacier Isle and Iceland Spring from Whole Foods.

We enclose our latest NSF water analysis which covers all the waters above - they have the same analysis.

Kettles in Iceland do not scale because the water is so pure.

If you use any of the above brands to brew your teas you will notice there is no "scum" or oily residue in the cup and the tea will taste all that much better.

Icelandic Glacial is not our water or from our source.

Thank you for your email, sorry again it took us so long to reply.

Best regards
David Lomnitz
Iceland Spring Water Analysis report.
Icelandic Spring_NSF Source Water Report 2017.pdf
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Rickpatbrown
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Sun Jan 27, 2019 6:00 pm

I'm visiting Seattle, WA for work this week. I just arrived and I brough some Alishan oolong and some shou puerh (YS Crimson Rooster).

I just finished brewing some alishan and it was great. The fragrance was MUCH stronger (than Maryland tap and Poland) and the liquor had better body. The tea isnt anything special, just some good daily drinker stuff.

I would add Seattle tap water to the list of good tea waters.

I cant find reputable numbers for TDS, pH etc, though. The one site I saw said that it was neutral pH with low TDS, but it was a gardening site.
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Victoria
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Sun Jan 27, 2019 6:21 pm

Rickpatbrown wrote:
Sun Jan 27, 2019 6:00 pm
I'm visiting Seattle, WA for work this week. I just arrived and I brough some Alishan oolong and some shou puerh (YS Crimson Rooster).

I just finished brewing some alishan and it was great. The fragrance was MUCH stronger (than Maryland tap and Poland) and the liquor had better body. The tea isnt anything special, just some good daily drinker stuff.

I would add Seattle tap water to the list of good tea waters.

I cant find reputable numbers for TDS, pH etc, though. The one site I saw said that it was neutral pH with low TDS, but it was a gardening site.
Thanks for update. Did you filter the tap water? Hope you can also visit Floating Leaves in Seattle. I think the owner, Shiuwen, will know a lot about water and pairing different profiles with her teas. Curious if she selects a particular water profile for certain teas?.
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Rickpatbrown
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Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:07 pm

Victoria wrote:
Sun Jan 27, 2019 6:21 pm
Rickpatbrown wrote:
Sun Jan 27, 2019 6:00 pm
I'm visiting Seattle, WA for work this week. I just arrived and I brough some Alishan oolong and some shou puerh (YS Crimson Rooster).

I just finished brewing some alishan and it was great. The fragrance was MUCH stronger (than Maryland tap and Poland) and the liquor had better body. The tea isnt anything special, just some good daily drinker stuff.

I would add Seattle tap water to the list of good tea waters.

I cant find reputable numbers for TDS, pH etc, though. The one site I saw said that it was neutral pH with low TDS, but it was a gardening site.
Thanks for update. Did you filter the tap water? Hope you can also visit Floating Leaves in Seattle. I think the owner, Shiuwen, will know a lot about water and pairing different profiles with her teas. Curious if she selects a particular water profile for certain teas?.
Nope. It went straight from the tap into the kettle


I've bought some nice Lishan and Dayuling from Floating leaves. I was hoping I could catch them one day before I leave.
swordofmytriumph
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Mon Jan 28, 2019 1:15 am

Rickpatbrown wrote:
Sun Jan 27, 2019 6:00 pm
I'm visiting Seattle, WA for work this week. I just arrived and I brough some Alishan oolong and some shou puerh (YS Crimson Rooster).

I would add Seattle tap water to the list of good tea waters.
Wooot! welcome to Seattle internet stranger! :D Don't know if you have time for sightseeing or not, but you should check out Phoenix Tea in Burien. It's a bit south of Seattle only 10 minutes from Seatac airport, and they carry pretty much everything from Crimson Lotus, around 80% of their lineup, including a few of their teas that are out of stock on the official website. They do tastings, you walk in and just tell them what you are interested in trying. Their stock of other teas is really low right now, but if you like Crimson Lotus and want to try some of their stuff you won't be disappointed. Also they host the people from Crimson Lotus almost every week (Fridays last I checked) and you can actually meet the Crimson Lotus people!
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Victoria
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Mon Jan 28, 2019 2:57 pm

Today, I steeped HY Chen’s high roast 100 year garden DingDing and it tasted like a badly roasted weak coffee. At first I wondered if I had stored the open 30gr pack too near my heating vent, but then I switched my filtered tap water with Nice! Iceland Spring bottled water and voila great roasted DongDing is back. Wish there was an easier way to know, before making tea, if my city tap will be off.

I spoke with my local water treatment plant supervisor, and during the few weeks I was having issues with my tea, it turns out Santa Monica was using a different, harder source of water, mixed in with our usual more alkaline local well water. That is why I had to end up getting bottled water. Last week we were back to more alkaline Santa Monica local well water and it was great with oolong and sencha. I guess this week they are importing harder water again. Unfortunately, there is no real time alert system to let residents know which sources of water are being used daily. I will from now on keep a supply of Iceland Spring as a back up. Hate to use plastic bottled water, but tea is important to me.
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teasecret
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Tue Jan 29, 2019 9:35 am

I'm working on some experiments that I'll put in a blog post in about a week. This stuff takes time!
In the meantime, what exactly is alkalinity and its relationship to the resulting tea?
Hmm
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Tue Jan 29, 2019 12:07 pm

Victoria wrote:
Mon Jan 28, 2019 2:57 pm
Today, I steeped HY Chen’s high roast 100 year garden DingDing and it tasted like a badly roasted weak coffee. At first I wondered if I had stored the open 30gr pack too near my heating vent, but then I switched my filtered tap water with Nice! Iceland Spring bottled water and voila great roasted DongDing is back. Wish there was an easier way to know, before making tea, if my city tap will be off.

I spoke with my local water treatment plant supervisor, and during the few weeks I was having issues with my tea, it turns out Santa Monica was using a different, harder source of water, mixed in with our usual more alkaline local well water. That is why I had to end up getting bottled water. Last week we were back to more alkaline Santa Monica local well water and it was great with oolong and sencha. I guess this week they are importing harder water again. Unfortunately, there is no real time alert system to let residents know which sources of water are being used daily. I will from now on keep a supply of Iceland Spring as a back up. Hate to use plastic bottled water, but tea is important to me.
Can TDS meters pick up whether water is hard or not? I suppose instead of drinking whatever tea one wants to drink a certain day, instead we have to check what tea is appropriate with whatever water one has...

As a side note... I'm staying in W. Seattle at the moment. The water from the tap with no filtering, TDS reads a ridiculous low of around 30.... probably a little bit more if the water warms up to room temp.
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Baisao
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Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:17 pm

Hmm wrote:
Tue Jan 29, 2019 12:07 pm
Can TDS meters pick up whether water is hard or not? I suppose instead of drinking whatever tea one wants to drink a certain day, instead we have to check what tea is appropriate with whatever water one has...
It depends on who you ask. Water hardness is a function of calcium and magnesium ions and relates to the formation to scale. This is unrelated to TDS, which is a measure of mineral solids that are dissolved in the water. You can therefore have soft water with very high TDS since sodium was used by a water softener to replace the calcium and magnesium ions.

It boils down to this: water hardness matters for your pipes and shampoo, TDS matters for the mouthfeel of water you drink.

TDS matters more to us than hardness. However, though a low TDS water has more elan than a high TDS water it can still taste bad or lock up tea flavors that we want to enjoy.

In the end, I would wade out of the scientific side of the tea water debate and focus on flavor and mouthfeel.
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