Tea originated in China 5,000 years ago and the selection and brewing of tea has been refined to an art with health and spiritual aspects emerging as part of the process Herbal tea for you.
Experienced tea drinkers throughout the world generally follow established guidelines for infusion or brewing of tea and the infusion process is often as important as the initial selection of tea. For many tea enthusiasts, brewing tea is the most soothing and spiritual part of their day. Brewing a good tasting cup of tea releases tensions for many and has a definite comforting effect.
It is a fact that since 99% of tea is water, better water makes better tea and water is critical to the final outcome of tea preparation. Brewing tea can be complex or simple. For many tea enthusiasts the brewing process is an important part of the tea experience that culminates in the preparation of a satisfying beverage and a way of life. Fine teas are especially sensitive to the nature of water for infusion.
The best water for successful tea infusion is low in mineral content, free of contamination and additives and high in oxygen content.
Water Quality and Brewing Tea
Good tasting tea requires good tasting water. A simple test is that if the water tastes good by itself, the resulting brewed tea will also have a good flavor. Because a brewed cup of tea is mostly water, the quality of the water is often as important as the quality of the tea leaves. The water must be free of contaminants and minerals and contain enough oxygen to enhance the natural tea flavor. Moreover, there are a number of additional factors that will affect the taste of the infusion. These include water temperature, the mineral content of the water used and the continued presence of a sufficient quantity of oxygen in the water.
If one is using tap water, filtration is often required. Many tap water suppliers use chlorine to kill bacteria and chlorine in tap water combined with mineral and chemical deposits can significantly affect tea taste and the tea drinker’s overall health. The brewer will want to remove chlorine and other chemicals as well as sediment from the water. It is best to check the composition of tap water on EPA or AMWA websites. Frequently there are also local water quality analysis data available.
Chlorinated tap water for example destroys the flavor of tea. No matter how skillful the preparation or spectacular the tea, bad water will make a bad cup of tea.
Most experts recommend that one never boil water for a prolonged period or re-boil a previously used supply. The more that the water boils, the more oxygen that is driven out of the water .When water is boiled, oxygen evaporates, and the crisp taste in the brew is lost.
Fresh cold water is important. In areas with poor tap water, use bottled or filtered water that is free of contaminants. Never use water from the hot water tap. If only tap water is available, run the water until it is cold and has a chance to aerate and infuse oxygen.
Poor quality tap water, containing mineral content and other contaminants, even if it is very cold, should be avoided since its chemical treatment imparts undesirable flavors and odors which interfere with the delicate aromatics of tea.
Mineral Content – Soft vs. Hard Water
Water described as “hard” is high in dissolved minerals, specifically calcium and magnesium. These minerals accumulate in the water, adversely affect the taste and clarity of the tea and accumulate in teapots and infusers. Teas brewed with pure water containing no minerals produce a crisp flavor and a clear brew that is aesthetically agreeable.