Science Tea

Water For Tea – Purified, Spring, or Tap?

I have been camping out in a hotel for a month and a half, and in order to still enjoy my whole leaf tea, I have my Teavana Tea Steeper and a small hot water heater. Local tap water here in Cincinnati is rather foul (my apologies on multiple levels to Cincinnatians), so I have been buying cases of bottled water for me tea brewing.

A couple of weeks ago instead of buying my usual case of spring water (no brand preferences), I went and bought a case of Niagara “purified” water, which appears to be pretty much pure water with nothing in it. I thought that would be better for my tea making, and certainly better for my hot water maker (which was constantly getting crusty with white mineral residue from the spring water I had been using).

However, over the last week I have noticed that the purified water produced much paler and weaker flavored teas (also lacking in aroma). This result applies to all the teas I have tried, but for me has been most apparent with green teas. Increasing the brewing times or steeping temperature makes no difference.

Today I switched back to spring water (Ice Mountain brand, in case that’s of interest), and voila, flavor and color had returned to my brewed teas, at normal brewing times and temperatures.

So, what I take away from this accidental experiment is that apparently a bit of alkalinity and mineral content is necessary for the water to release the full flavor and color of the tea. Interesting thing to learn.

I did some online research about the subject and came across this article (which is experiential, and not really scientific, but interesting nonetheless) – Water for Tea.

In any event, I have learned my lesson, and while the purified water resulted in a much cleaner hot water pot, it’s not something I ever want to voluntarily use to brew tea again. I’ll suffer with mineral residue in the pot in exchange for better tea brewed with spring water.

4 replies on “Water For Tea – Purified, Spring, or Tap?”

I have done my own taste tests. I live in Houston with the worlds worst water. We have a local brand Ozarka which produces the best flavor and least sediment in the cup and cordless tea kettle. Nestles leaves lots of sediment and does not taste as well. I agree with your findings.

Very interesting. I have a personal water distiller and have been using it for years. There is a slight “slimy” taste to many brands of bottled water, and suspect it comes from the plastic bottles, or part of the cleaning process for the processing equipment.

Jake, have you tried distilled water? I wonder if I’ve been missing something.

I have not tried distilled water, although I wonder how different it is chemically from the purified water I bought.


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