1 Liter of hand-crafted water in a beautiful glass bottle arrived at my apartment last week. This is the new iteration of Untitled by Arby at Empirical Water based on some of my previous feedback on the water. This new version was reviewed by mgualt here. You may remember my review of the previous version was very positive, but I later realized it could use improvements in texture to give a more natural and expansive experience. In the past months I’ve been working on my palate, trying many blends of bottled and filtered waters, getting a better understanding of the range of characteristics of waters for tea.
6.8g 110ml glazed pot
Novak ceramic kettle
Very substantial texture. A very oily steep. Tasting older than usual. Rich. Mushrooms, roots, herbs, mint, strength. Huigan (aftertaste echo on the breath) is sweet bubblegum and lemony root beer. Qi is warming and uplifting.
While I drink this, a huge, dense, dark thunderstorm started – I wonder if nature is mad that we’re taking over its job? Regardless, nature is making water too.
A longer steep around 25 sec: seriously good delivery. Very detailed and smooth. Prolonged expression of flavors. There’s definitely a sense that this favors dark, sweet flavors, but does so in a satisfying, forward-enough way. Specifically, there’s a sweetness on the front of the tongue that is distinct and vivid, coincident with everything else. It’s quite fun to visualize where all the flavors and sensations are happening. Definitely makes the tea feel like a gastronomic event.
Quicker steep, fairly buttery, a bit watery. Astringency is low-medium. Really long satisfying aftertaste and throat feel, and nice body feel as well.
Watery entry but with texture. It’s as if the tea creates a textural void which is then gradually filled with flavors. It starts with the root bitterness, then the sort of buttered popcorn and honey, then the light citrus and florals and herbs at the end. They are all present at once, but the focus shifts.
More bitterness, still nice rich oils. Still nice thickness but still has a watery quality, unlike really heavy waters that are all thickness and density with no refreshment or space. Simplifying in taste a bit to wood oils, like fresh oak.
Getting really woody now, and something that reminds me of lime jello. Astringency medium high.
Last, long steep
Not too strong, still nice layered mushrooms and wood and herbs. A bit less sweet, more dry in a nice way.
Trying a green oolong:
Leaf of the east dong ding in 100ml gaiwan-
It’s got a good taste of the roast and a good body and sweetness, but it is lacking that upfront fragrance and refreshing presence. Not the best fit. Still has a nice complexity to it, but a bit subdued. Still enjoyable.
Water rating: 8.2 – great for teas focused on richness and deep complexity, and usable across the spectrum of teas with what I would expect to be varying results. Really nice water that really doesn’t feel artificial. Nicely done Arby!