tea is only as good as the water you make it with (and a new list of good tap waters)

I’ve come across a lot of analogies when talking about water for tea. A memorable one is: tea is the music, water is the speakers. Thats pretty close to how it is, but maybe tea is the music and water is the orchestra playing it. Both of these analogies involve the reproduction of music, but with the orchestra analogy there’s more responsibility given to the water. Furthermore, the orchestra would have a conductor, which would be the human brewer. But then, is the teapot the first chair, the best player in the orchestra? Or would that be the dominant flavor? No, the dominant flavor is part of the musical composition. Then, the cup must be the acoustics. But isn’t the acoustics the actual space that the tea drinking is happening in? The teapot might be the instruments that the orchestra is playing. So the water is playing the teapot, which is playing the tea into the cup; all led by the brewer.

I’ve gotten feedback on discord from people who tried a different water and were struck by how big of a difference it made, more than teaware, brewing temperature, ratio, or any other parameter. Water can be heavy, light, vibrant, muddled, astringent, subdued, dense, spacious, fluffy, metallic, smooth, and more. Water can, by the way it extracts, cause tea to be any of these things. You can even have a smooth water that makes astringent tea, so there can be a mismatch. That’s like how a shy violin player can play quite loudly and with great presence on stage.

The point is, there are many different kinds of water, and different levels. You wouldn’t yell at a 6th grade orchestra for not sounding like the Vienna symphony. So, either you have to accept your water as it is, with its flaws, or you have to figure out something better. I’ve found that there’s not much you can add or change with a bad water to make it better, just like there’s not much you can do with a not-so-talented orchestra to make it world-class. For the orchestra, you basically have to kick out all but the best players, and then replace them with better ones. With water, it’s similar. By diluting the water, you make room to introduce a better group and balance of minerals. Since every water is different and mineral content reports are so spotty and often incomplete, it’s hard to know what to add to the diluted water. So, it’s often easier to simply throw out the old water and get a new one.

With the modern recycling crisis and the expense of water transport, coupled with the non-availability of good water in glass bottles for any reasonable price, and the difficulty of making 0ppm TDS water to make recipes with (home Reverse Osmosis filters make 10ppm usually, depending on starting TDS, and distillers don’t make good tasting water, at least that I’ve tried) we as tea drinkers have to get lucky with our tap, or make do with a difficult and imperfect solution for the time being.

The List

What would be great is a list of the top cities/towns for tap water, and we could all move there. At least having that list would be a good resource to triangulate the preferences of serious tea drinkers, and allow us to replicate (approximately) those waters, as I did with Toronto. Here is that list. You can email me with your water, how you would rank it, and any other notes. My email address is in the doc! https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1U6hIB-7RhxuzGWhBZvmhJdv668AG3b2d9bgI-kDwS08/edit?usp=sharing

Impractically Pure Water

Amazon Tea Quotes

If I could give you any advice, don’t buy tea on Amazon. The people who do sell tea on Amazon do have some very helpful tips though:

“do not drink ten pounds of Pu’er tea”

Puerh tea has “many benefits”

Make sure your tea cake is Grade:AAAAA+”

It “May good for burning fat and managing weight”

Enjoy a Dark and stormy night infusion”

“tea light holder body effects body nutrition tea for colds tea k cups for keurig tea gift set body oils for women body oil for dry skin tea party decorations tea gift basket organic green tea tea bags for loose tea kids body wash tea water bottle tea with caffeine tea infuser cup body lotion for dry skin tea k cups fat jack sex tea for weight loss tea light candles fat removal”

This tea has More longer time, more fich aroma”

Buy the brand name! Cheap Pu Erh are made from tea trees next highway and polluted land/air”

“The tea is processed using LongRun’s signature 86 step refining method”

As we all know, “Dai nationality girl can sing and dance well and this product is also from their craft”

“This tea is 100% natural and organic without corrosion remover or pigment.”

As you can see, Amazon is a great place to learn about tea, even if it’s not a good place to buy it.


How to Make Tea

First, meditate for around thirty to forty-five minutes until you have settled into a deep connection with your qi body. Otherwise you will not detect the body feel of your tea, which is why it costs so much in the first place.

Next, boil your water, but don’t let it actually boil. While this is happening, gather your tools. Use your puerh knife to loosen off five grams of tea without using a scale and without damaging a single leaf. Put the leaves in the pot with a very expensive scoop. Oh crap, you forgot to warm the teapot and cups. You already messed up, you dingus. So dump the leaves out back onto the scoop, warm the teapot with the hot water and rinse the cups, using bamboo tongs to avoid touching the cups with your hands. Rinse the tea leaves by pouring hot water into the teapot which you have filled with the leaves that you took out earlier because you forgot to warm the teapot and cups. Pour out the water into the cups. Or right into the waste bowl. You choose.

It’s time to make the tea for real. Get ready. Pour the water into the pot, then into the pitcher or the cups, or the cup. It really depends. Don’t burn yourself. Make sure you have not lost touch with your qi body. Drink the tea. OUCH! Too hot. If you have guests, someone choked on the tea and is now coughing. Everyone is listening to them coughing. Now you are afraid to cough. Don’t worry, the qi is setting in and will guide you. Make sure the water is boiling and not boiling at the same time, and make another infusion.

You know what to do from here. At the end of the session, don’t forget to use your digger wimble.


Image result for "digger wimble"
Photo by Yunnan Sourcing. Can you spot the digger wimble?