What's Healthy About Tea? - Choosing the Best Water

The most important step on brewing a good cup of tea.

In the print version of “The Everything Healthy Tea Book”, I included the following comment:

Tea Is the Second Most Popular Beverage in the World

Because this statement is so surprising and attention-grabbing, it is frequently the opening remark by speakers on the subject. What raises a few more eyebrows is the clarification that “tea” refers only to the leaf of the Camellia sinensis plant, the only true tea. In these modern times, many popular teas are blended with other ingredients, and it would be tempting to assume that when people say “tea” they are including all beverages infused in hot water except coffee. But even after we filter out the true tea (Camellia sinensis) from the bits of fruit and flowers, and then eliminate other infused herbs like rooibos and Yerba Mate, the little green leaf continues to sprint ahead of coffee, juice, and sodas in worldwide preferences and consumption.

Donaldson, Babette. The Everything Healthy Tea Book:  (Kindle Locations 326-329). Adams Media. Kindle Edition.

Acknowledging the global quantity of tea consumed as a beverage always reminds me of two things. One is that it binds us together as an international community. And this is the foundation for the Tea Sippers Society. But the second – and most important fact – is the importance of good quality water. Water is the most consumed beverage on our planet. And yet, there are places around the world, even in some of the most developed countries, where it is difficult to get safe and good tasting water. One of the most publicized water disasters in the world is in Flint, Michigan in the U.S. And this is not the only water issue on the U.S. Certainly not around the world.

Those of us who can turn on a tap and trust the water flowing freely are fortunate. But, even with treated tap water, that is safe to drink, the minerals and additives can change the taste of tea. Water has its own flavor. And the way we heat it can actually flatten the taste by removing oxygen. (Like over boiling it or re-heating multiple times.) There can be the flavor of chlorine in treated water or the flavor and aroma of minerals like iron or sulphur from ground water. Water that has been stored in some plastic containers can actually absorb flavors of the container.

You cannot brew a good cup of tea with poor water, even if you use the very finest tea. 

 

Restaurant Tea Service

One of the bad water experiences that we have all experienced is the restaurant that delivers the tea with water that has been run through the same heating filter as coffee. Or stored in one of the tempered pots that has held coffee. You immediately smell and taste the strong essence. This absolutely destroys and potential for a good cup of tea. There are few teas that blend well with the overwhelming flavor of this water.

The few restaurants that go the extra mile for us Tea Sippers and invest in the equipment to brew water for tea deserve our recognition and appreciation. I always try to speak with the owner or manager to acknowledge their attention to this detail. And I encourage all Tea People to do the same. Hopefully we can encourage more foodservice businesses to do the same.

One of my favorite examples of an incredible tea-lovers restaurant was one in a very small town in Northern Nevada. Winnamucca. I stopped in for lunch at a sandwich shop and ordered tea – preparing for the worst. But was served a beautiful ceramic teapot of good water (no coffee flavor) and a selection of good quality teabags. I peeked into the kitchen and noticed the separate water heater for tea water. When I thanked the owner, she passed it off as “no big deal” for her. She saw the profits and said that there were customers almost every day that thanked her . . . and tipped well!

What’s Healthy About Tea – INDEX

INTRODUCTORY MATERIAL

  • Babette’s Personal Welcome
  • Book Introduction
  • Busting Ten Top Tea Myths

CHAPTER 1: WHAT IS TEA?

  • A 5000 Year Old Medicine
  • The Second Most Popular Beverage
  • Camellia sinensis – True Tea
  • Six Kinds of Tea – Only One Plant
  • From The Leaf To The Cup
  • Harvesting Tea

Choosing The Best Water for Tea

It’s fairly obvious that water should be fresh and clear, not cloudy. Free from unpleasant aromas. Sweet to the taste. My personal preference is freshly run tap water that is then filtered. There are many options for water filters these days so consider one that fits your needs and your budget. But some of the Tea People I know prefer bottled water. Even name brand bottled waters. I have even attended “water tastings” where we set up blind sampling of several different bottled waters.

A Blind Water Tasting

Any blind tasting means that the participants are served samples without any visual way to identify the sources. No packaging or labels. Just the water itself. When I do this I always include my preferred filtered tap water to see how it stacks up against the commercial options.

It’s amazing how much the flavor of water varies!

A follow-up to this experience is to then brew tea with each water – being careful to keep the tea, the brewing methods and the timing the same for each one so the comparisons will be consistent.

Then ask, is the best tasting water also the best one for brewing tea?