The No.1 ingredient in making tea is water: a cup of tea is 99% water, and water plays just as important role in the end result as the tea leaves themselves.  

Water is often taken for granted and overlooked when it comes to tea, but the quality of water used when making a cup of tea will have a big impact on the taste. Water has different compositions depending on its source, mineral content, pH level and purity.  

Water that is “too hard” (i.e. it has a high mineral content meaning lots of calcium and magnesium) can cause tea to taste dull and obscure the delicate flavours of the leaves. Water with a high level of calcium can also result in scum that floats on the top of the brew as calcium reacts with oxygen to become calcium bicarbonate.

Water that is "too soft" (i.e. contains low amounts of minerals) may give you a cup of tea that is dull and weak.  Whilst contaminants will have been removed, this type of water can lack the mineral content that can enhance the flavour of the tea. 

We might assume that purified distilled water is the best but this is not the case. 

So what is the ideal water quality for a good cup of tea?

  • Use water with a neutral pH (around 7) like bottled spring water which has a good balance of minerals- not too few, not too many. 
  • If you’re using tap water, use a water filter that removes impurities that might affect the taste of your tea.
  • If you're using bottled water, make sure it's truly spring water, and not just treated tap water. The source of the water should be marked on the bottle. 
  • Use freshly drawn water (as opposed to stale water that has been sitting in a kettle or carafe). Water that has been boiled several times will lack oxygen and leave your tea tasting flat. Oxygen helps to draw the best flavours out of the tea. 
  • Pay close attention to the water temperature when brewing and brew at the idea temperature for each type of tea.

Remember, there is water, and there is "water" so be careful what water you use if you want to get the most out of your tea leaves. 

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