This recipe was formulated in November 2020. I made a heavier version of this recipe first, which I called “heavy” and then cut it down to 2/3 concentration, hence the name, 2/3 Heavy. I could have done a more creative name, but it’s what we’ve been calling it on the tea discord where a few other people have been making it and enjoying it, as well as the previous recipe, Truth Serum, which was developed after. Big thanks to Arby and everyone in #water on the CommuniTEA discord for helping out with evaluating this recipe! This water is more chloride focused than sulfate, and includes potassium. It was designed to have a little bit of everything: fragrance, presence and depth.
(To purchase the materials you need, please visit the Water Guide.)
Short instructions: in one gallon of distilled or other 0 ppm TDS water, add each mineral one at a time. Carefully weigh each mineral on a milligram scale (not a regular gram scale) and make sure all of it has made it into the water and none is left stuck to the tray. Clean the tray between weighing each substance. Wait at least a minute between adding each mineral. When done, wait 20 minutes for the minerals to dissolve, shaking occasionally. If you have a different size container, use 1 gallon = 3.785 L to convert the amounts. For example, if you’re only making 1 liter, divide every amount by 3.785.
|133.4 mg/gallon Baking Soda (NaHCO3)|
|22.7 mg/gallon Potassium Bicarbonate (KHCO3)|
|92.2 mg/gallon Magnesium Chloride Hexahydrate (MgCl2.6H2O)|
|119.5 mg/gallon Gypsum (CaSO4.2H2O)|
|26.8 mg/gallon Calcium Chloride (CaCl2)|
|Hardness||36 mg/L as CaCO3|
|Alkalinity||24 mg/L as CaCO3|
|Hardness to Alkalinity Ratio||1.5|
|TDS (calculated, will not measure nearly this high due to ion conductivities)||84 ppm|
|Electrical Conductivity at 25ºC (calculated, expected to measure)||144.3 μS/cm|
|Alkalinity % from Sodium and/or Potassium||100%|
|Electrical Conductivity at 25ºC||139.4 μS/cm|
|TDS (calculated from Electrical Conductivity error and calculated TDS)||81 ppm|
All teas were tasted on the same day, with the same batch of water. The kettle was refreshed for every new session. Crackers were eaten between sessions. Water was boiled in a glass kettle using gas for the initial boil and an infrared hot plate during the session.
Session 1: 2019 White2Tea Fireflake Dancong
3.3g/50ml gaiwan, 100ºC
This is a strong, punchy, intensely fragrant oolong with a high roast.
Early impressions: brews up dark, more orange than your typical dancong. First steep is sweet, floral, and buttery. Bitterness throughout the mouth, but not unusual for this tea. Taste in the front of the mouth is immediate, and on the swallow there is a present bitter roast aftertaste. Second steep is intensely dark. Dense taste of sweet chocolate and coffee with butter and tannins. Obviously too strong, but has redeeming qualities. I guess my ten second steep was overkill! Switching to flash brews. Viscosity is medium. Activity in front and back of mouth is equal.
Mid-session: Tea is still strong. Quite sharp arrival, sides of tongue has roasty sourness, but it all blooms into a thick fragrance that evaporates in the mouth. General flavor is sour roast with floral butter in the aftertaste. Astringency is medium-high. Thank goodness for the sweetness here to balance that all out. I have had worse sessions in the past with this tea. It’s full of character, but it’s a beast. More of a rushed flash steep brings a more balanced profile, intense fragrance and roast but with viscosity and refreshing fruit notes.
Late Steeps: I definitely feel like I’m getting a complete picture of this tea. The taste and aftertaste are fully present. This tea is not letting up on the strength front, drying up my cheeks. Aroma on the gaiwan lid is extremely enjoyable as well as the wet leaf, pungent floral, and cooked celery. (?!) Around steep 8 this tea is settling into a much more pleasant stage, with a nice warm profile of nutty floral aroma with a buttery taste in the front of the mouth, like brown butter. Caffeine is strong, amazing get-it-done energy. Warming to the core also, while most dancong usually cools you down. Loving the sugary greenness as the roast fades later in the session. This is a tea to flash flash flash until it lets up, then enjoy rewarding late steeps.
Session Rating: 6.5/10 – Overwhelmingly strong and punchy, but with plenty of redeeming qualities to be a success.
Need a break already! Then we will press on to two teas I tried last time.
Session 2: 2001 Zhongcha Huangyin from Teas We Like
3.4g/50ml gaiwan, 100ºC
Early impressions: Wash smells very clean, earthy sprite aroma. Two rinses as this is one chunk. Elaborate wet leaf aroma, full of citrus and darker fruits, earth and wood. Liquor on the first steep has the yeasty smell that you usually get with aged sheng when you use much harder/heavier water, like toronto water for example. This is encouraging, as I like that note but I don’t like tons of scale in the kettle. This recipe doesn’t scale at all. Nice present early taste, generally sweet wood. Still opening up. Glorious raisin-craisin smell in the gaiwan. Water does affect the wet leaf smell more than you might expect! Now at a peach color, the tea produces great viscosity, medium thick. Flavor first hits in the back, surprising! In the front of the mouth there is sweetness, sparkling feeling, but a lot of the activity is happening in the back of the mouth with gentle wood bitterness. I am blown away by the texture though, extremely pleasant.
Middle: Vivid. Clear dirt-earth-dust in the back, fruit expressing itself in the front. This tea seems to move back-to-front, which is quite unusual. It first hits the sides of the tongue, then the back, then the front. Flavors are sweet, some floral qualities, but the sensation is deep gentle bitterness. Low astringency. There’s a cinnamon stick quality to the sweetness, and the bitterness is primarily wood. The front of the mouth has some powerful astringency now, but not excessive. Brown sugar, pine resin, root beer (birch beer tree). The clarity of experience here is striking, nothing seems to be hidden at all. It is rather sharp and quite immediate, but the experience of drinking lasts a good, dynamic 30 seconds. Energy coming through now, heating in arms and clarity.
Late: Maintains complexity while evolving. Leaf decay, bittersweet, honey, grains. Still present, hits in the front more immediately now with the lightest of brown sugar and hardwood. Two minute late steep – clear front presence, sweet grapey winey quality, like wine aged in a whisky barrel… in the forest. Extremely aggreable.
Session Rating: 8.0/10 – in a completely different way from Truth Serum 1.0, this session hit the mark: for thickness, complexity, and presence. Somehow bright and deep all at once.
Session 3: 2019 White2Tea Green Hype
3.3g/50ml gaiwan, 100ºC
Early impressions: Wet leaf immediately a smoky, floral, sweet, buttery affair. First taste – sweet ripe stonefruit. Smoky, but more like smoked fruit than fruity smoke. Great sweetness. Definitely front focused at the outset. Immediate taste. Complex sheng gasoline. Oily and energetic. More please!
Mid-session: So bright and upfront, sparkling on the tongue. Artichoke, snap peas, fresh apricot, red bell pepper, and a rice crispies sort of sweetness. Astringency is medium here, oiliness is also medium. In the throat, there’s a huigan, and mostly pine bitterness, like hops. There’s a toasted rice graininess that brings it into the scotch whisky realm, as if it were a young single malt. Energy is generally uplifting, with heat in back. Longer steep has more bitterness, which is quite satisfying if a little straightforward.
Late steeps: Wet leaf has the most pure leafy-smokiness. Taste beginning to settle into a sort of smoked lemon-lime soda, with a backbone of bulang gasoline strength. Very cool fermenty sourness coming in, like a sour beer. Rather glorious dynamism for a sheng in this price bracket. Green leafy aftertaste throughout the mouth with a tannin-coat. Pectin. One minute late steep, still fresh, but with obvious peppery notes coming in.
Session Rating: 7.4/10 – I’m rather blown away and I don’t think you can do much better than this with this particular tea. Incredible experience of changing flavors.
This medium-strength recipe provides a well-rounded experience, with high clarity, fragrance, and sweetness with appropriate rear-mouth activity and viscosity. 2/3 Heavy strikes me as a good benchmark for custom standardized water, as I felt I was getting front and back of mouth activity for all three teas. It doesn’t strike me as particularly dishonest, but it may make flawed teas taste passable rather than highlighting their flaws. I don’t always get such good results with this recipe, but I was very patient in measuring and dissolving each mineral this time, and my patience was rewarded. Additionally, I got less conductivity error than last time, which is quite encouraging. Overall I’m very pleased and am testing many variations of this recipe side by side to better understand water.
Average session rating: 7.3/10
Water rating: 8/10