Tea and water – it’s a match made in heaven. You can’t have a cup of tea without water and, by the same token, you’re not about to have a good cup of tea without good water. But what constitutes good water from a tea drinker’s perspective?
One of the first commentators on the critical relationship between tea and water was Lu Yu (733-804). His book, The Classic of Tea, is one of the first books written about tea.
Regarding water, Lu Yu summarized thusly, “water from the mountains is the best, then river water, and finally well water…water from slow-running streams, lakes with stony beds, or milk-white springs is the best mountain water.” Which can be problematic to the majority of tea drinkers in modern times, who probably lack ready access to mountain, river or well water.
For a more contemporary look at water and tea, consider some advice from Michael Mascha, publisher of the FineWaters Web site and author of Fine Waters: A Connoisseur’s Guide to the World’s Most Distinctive Bottled Waters.
According to Mascha, a cheap home filtration device can produce water on a par with a low-end bottled water, either of which are suitable for tea. Mascha uses soft water for rooibos herbal tea and says rainwater-sourced bottled water, which has a low mineral content, can be a good choice for tea. When it comes to specific brands that would be suitable for tea drinkers, Mascha points to Fuji as a good place to start.
For tea (or coffee) made with water whose purity may be unparalleled, try Butler’s By the Sea, a Newfoundland bed and breakfast that uses iceberg water. If Newfoundland is too far off the beaten path you might be able to locate iceberg water marketed by Canada’s Original Iceberg Water Corporation. The firm is also based in St. Johns, Newfoundland. They sell their product in 500 ml and one-liter sizes and also make Iceberg Vodka.
For water specifically geared to tea and coffee drinking, consider Cirqua Customized Water. Their products are directed more to tea and coffee houses and other businesses but they offer filtration systems and The Formula, a brand of bottled water especially formulated for tea of coffee.
Iceberg water and rainwater will certainly deliver a great result, but tea drinkers looking for something simpler should have good luck with any soft (low in mineral content) water. Unpleasant aromas and flavors can often be removed from tap water with an inexpensive water-filtering device.
William’s writing style is a lot like some of the water discussed in this post. It flows from the mountains in clear, clean streams of awesomeness. Check out his blog, Tea Guy Speaks, to see what I mean.