Saturday, November 13, 2004

Do you have the right water for brewing tea?

JiuLong Spring Water
Many people know that the quality of tea leaves is very important for brewing a good cup of tea. However, not many people realize that the water that they use to brew tea is as important, if not more important, for brewing a good cup of tea. Mr. Zhang Dafu of Ming dynasty wrote in his Mei Hua Cao Tang Bi Tan that “Tea leaves need water to be brewed into a good cup of tea. 100% quality water can brew 80% quality tea leaves into a 100% quality cup of tea. On the other hand, 80% quality water can only brew 100% quality tea leaves into an 80% quality cup of tea.”

Lu Yu had detail discussions about tea brewing water in his famous tea book Cha Jing (Tea Bible). Generally speaking, hard water is not good for brewing tea. Water with PH value of greater than 7 may darken color of tea liquor and lighten taste of tea.

After selecting the right type of water, boiling water is the next important step. Cai Xiang of Song dynasty said in his tea book Cha Lu that “To boil water is the most difficult task. Foams will show up if water is not ready. Leaves will fell to bottom if water is over boiled…” When boiling water for brewing tea, people should use high heat to bring the water to rapid boiling. Over boiled water is not suitable for brewing tea.

Tea Lovers at JinYuXuan Tea House


Johan said...

How would one possibly choose water? Unless you mean using bottled water, which costs about 1000(!!!) as much, which I hope you do not recommend. The practice of bottling water is very damaging to our environment with all the transport it needs. But if you use just normal tap water you get what you get, it's not like you will go to another city to get their tap water and test if it's better. In reality this is not a choice, unless you run a tea restaurant maybe, then you can add limestone or salts or acids to your water to balance it if you have huge amounts of it, for day to day purposes this is just not feasible, you get the water you get. I have had most wonderful tea in places with chalk-rich water and in Nordic/Russian forest areas where the water is very acidic.
But yes keeping the oxygen in the water is important, that's why you don't use long boiled water. Another trick is to pour the water with a lot of force open the tap to it's strongest when you fill up your water container, this will make the air's oxygen get into the water, also this is why many cultures develop a custom of serving tea by pouring it from very high so it foams a little.

TeaHub said...

Thank you for the thoughtful comments. From our experiences, minerals, PH levels do affect tastes even colors of teas.