The Quality of Water for Green Tea

The quality of water for tea, like mercy, should not be strained… it should be filtered!

No matter how much we spend on tea, the water is the key to success. The condition of the water can make a great tea taste poor and a poor tea taste better. This is true whether you use an inexpensive bagged tea or a precious white loose-leaf tea, though the more delicate the tea, the more the taste of the water matters. While strongly flavored black teas may cover some of the inequities, odors and poor taste will overpower green tea and white tea.

Water is the key to life. Our bodies are made mostly of water, we drink it, bathe in it, play in it… it’s an essential component of our existence. I insist that my water is clean and tasty simply because I drink a lot of it and it’s important to me. I’ve known people who drink tea because they don’t like the taste of plain water. While that is a great way of circumventing taste preferences, it’s important not to overlook the quality of the water.

Most people use water from the tap – called “source water” in the biz. Go ahead and impress your friends with your verbal prowess at your next tea party. *grin* Tap water varies greatly from city to city, region to region. There are three main elements that determine the quality of water:
Mineral composition
Odorous compounds like chlorine and sulfur

In the U.S., public water companies publish an annual water quality report that is available for the asking. I found my local report with a quick online search. I’ll discuss each of the three elements in turn.

Water is termed hard or soft. The harder it is, the higher the calcium and magnesium content. Groundwater that makes its way through rocks into the local reservoir creates erosion. As the water erodes the rock, the minerals are dissolved into the water.
Hard Water = above 9 GPG (grains per gallon)
Medium Water = 6-9 GPG
Soft Water = below 6 GPG

Soft water is preferable for tea, is easier on machines like the laundry and dishwasher, and is easier on the skin. If you are keen to soften the water on it’s way into your house, you can invest in an ion exchanger. It is a bit of an expense, there’s some installation involved, and the act of softening the water increases the amount of sodium therein. Research is warranted before a commitment is made. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and North Dakota State University published this very informative article on treating household water systems to begin your research.

Mineral Content
Mineral content is measured in Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). The federal standard is 500ppm (parts per million).
Sea water = 10,000+ ppm TDS
Ground water = 500-2,500 ppm
Rainwater = 10-30 ppm

While rainwater is best for tea, collecting it for use requires a bit of fore planning and education before filling your kettle. There needs to be a mechanism to collect the rain and hold it, and it needs to be filtered for bird excrement and bits of the environment. Find a good set of instructions and determine whether the pollution level of your area is too high for safe drinking. Here is a basic fact sheet to read from NSF International, the Public Health and Safety Company about collecting potable rainwater.

Though we want to reduce the mineral content, keep in mind that distilled water isn’t good for tea because all the minerals are filtered out of it. The same is true for reverse osmosis filters. Activated carbon filters, like Brita, Pur, and others, will eliminate some heavy metals, but not all.

Odorous Compounds
Areas with volcanic activity may leach sulfur into the water table and some counties counter bacteria and other water borne diseases by adding chlorine. Chances are, if your local water source contains either, you’ll not need a report to tell you. When what flows from your tap smells like rotten eggs or a swimming pool, you’ll know it before you raise the glass to sip. The best remedy is the simplest: use an activated carbon filter. You can use a pitcher, install a filter directly on your tap or buy a large system that filters the whole house at the source.

In my own kitchen, I’m very happy with an activated carbon filter, and that’s all. I’m fortunate to live in an area with very tasty water. Though it’s hard, my mineral content is just above rainwater and the touch of chlorine is easily filtered away. If you want to improve the taste of your water, an activated carbon filter is an inexpensive and non-invasive way to enhance your tea experience.

Breathe deeply,
Laugh with abandon,
Love wholly,
Eat well.

MiLady Carol
Dazzling jewelry that reflects sparkling personalities!

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