For tea professional Cortilia Lin from Taiwan ‘water for tea is like art to our life’. Avid tea lovers know water changes the flavor, the mood and the color of tea. Lin: “However, most of us take the key element, ‘water’, for granted.”
Every country has different ways of purifying tap water, drinking water, which result in the varying hardness level in the water and different contains of the minerals (or without). All of these would require a tea maker to think through how to brew a cup of tea with the water that we intend for the tea flavor today. In addition, the temperature, humidity level in the room, and even the containers where we keep the water would also create variations in the water quality. These are also important factors to consider when we brew tea for the intended flavor. Since every country has varying quality of tap water, let’s take a look at the tap water in different countries.
For example in Japan, the mean and median hardness of tap water is 48.9 and 46.0 mg/L. A study published in 2021, “A survey of monitoring tap water hardness in Japan and its distribution patterns1” compares Japan’s tap water hardness level with 19 other countries. Most people may believe that soft water is better for tea brewing, which is partially correct.
In countries where tea is a culture and a way of engaging conversations, tea also represents hospitality and the companionship during great dialogues about life. We generally would think about the person whom we are making tea for, where are they from, what type of food do they usually eat and what is the quality of water which may brew a cup of tea that would remind them of their life stories and happiness in their childhood, school days or more.
Hence when I make a cup of tea for my Japanese friend, I tend to go with ultra soft water, because soft water is likely to present the tea with the style of astringency. Moreover, I know she is familiar with astringency tastes and prefers to have it when she is home sick. One the other hand, when I’m making tea for my Lithuanian friend, I prefer to go with super hard water. High levels of hardness in water tend to reduce certain flavours in black tea. My Lithuanian friend however prefers this taste as the color presentation of the black team is more impactful and the smoothness of the tea is preferred.
Selecting the type of water you intend your tea to taste for is a great way to make a morning conversation, afternoon tea more cheerful and engaging!
About Cortilia Lin:
Cortilia has decided to support the development of the tea industry in the broader professional training context by creating a virtual reality start-up – Kyalio. Cortilia and Kyalio team work on Mixed Reality for professional training and education, aiming to bring more cross-border educational content online and promote tea training and stories in a new level of imagination. With 15 years of experience in technologies and innovative design thinking across three continents, Cortilia will be bringing ‘Stories about Tea’ with even more flavour in the future.