sobota 1. září 2012

Experimenting with water

After reading MarshalN's articles on the importance of water, I felt the urge to try something like that too. Of course, one does know that different waters give different brews, but how different exactly?

Experiment 1: Tap water vs. Evian water (I could not get any better), both boiled in an electric kettle. I used Purple Yi Wu 2010 as a test-tea as the tea is very sensitive to water used.

I took two bowls from the same serie, but about the same amount of tea to both, steeped the tea and waited. The difference was clear in less than a minute.

Tap water is on the left.

1 minute:

3 minutes: 

In detail, tap water


First, I observed the aroma. The difference was huge - the Evian smelled like nice, darker young Yiwu, sweet, full, with some fruit and nuts. The tap water smelled hollow, dry and not that good.

Looking at the bowls, one may immediately see that the tap water yields a lighter brew. What you may not see at the 0th sight, but it should be seen at the first sight, the Evian bowl is much more cloudy - it is not that I was out of focus. Peculiar, is it not?

The taste was very different too. Despite the poor aroma of the tap water bowl, both bowls tasted very nice, but very different. 
The tap water bowl tastes good, full, fruity (it is that dark fruit style Yiwu). If I try, I guess I do taste a bit of chemical stuff in there (not chlorine, it is some other disinfection. It is not too bad though, I like how the bowl tastes.
The Evian bowl tastes also good, also full, but it is much more like the "honey and nuts" Yiwu style. It is much more nutty and much less fruity than the tap water. 

So, although one would naturally expect some difference when using different water, the takehome message here is that the tea can be diametrally different even using "normal" waters. This was boiled in an electric kettle, none of the waters had significant  flaws or superpowers.

Experiment 2:
Boiling tea is also an issue. It is well known that brewing water in a clay kettle on real fire is great. Tetsubin on a heating plate is also good. Some people boil water in a pot on a gas burner. How does it affect the water? Today, I pitted tap water boiled in an electric kettle (metal everywhere) against tap water boiled in a pot. 

...There will be no photos as there was no significant difference in the color, aroma or taste. 

The importance of material is vast though. Plastic kettles are, unles propertly cleaned, not much good in my opinion.

4 komentáře:

  1. Interesting post, Jakub.
    I "struggle" with water everyday as our tap water is enormously hard. Brita removes most of the hardness but not all plus adds a different kind of "aroma" to it than e.g. bottled kind of water like Evian in your case has. It is like having three different impressions out of one particular tea.

    All the best,

  2. Nice post indeed.

    I can't even consider using tap water where I am as it tastes overwhelmingly of chlorine. My partner and I both hate even drinking tap water filtered here. I tried it with tea once, and it was truly foul.

    It seems that you are able to use tap without ruining the experience. Do you use it normally when brewing (excuse me if you have noted this as I read your blog all the time, but my memory suffers from early 90s club days)? And if yes, have you considered using bamboo charcoal to reduce/eliminate the slight chemical note?

  3. Thanks Disciple and Esteban!

    I do use tap water regularly indeed. I used to Brita-filter it, but I ceased doing it (laziness, I guess, also maybe a bit better water than it was where I lived five years ago) and I do not think that my tea drinking experience would be worse.

    I considered using bamboo charcoal, but again, I was too little motivated to do so. After all, I realized that the water is quite good here.

    And if I want ultimately good water, I just use the Chao Zhou stove and kettle.

    Also, there are cheaper options than usual 1-2 liter bottles of water in markets which might be helpful to you - 20l or so barrels should last for a while and they are generally much cheaper.

    Another option would be finding a local spring. Although most of springs in cities may be polluted, there are several good springs even in Prague....


  4. Evian's high mineral content must have been released during boiling, contributing to the cloudiness of the infusion. Your tap water brew seems more delicious to me at first sight.