Does water quality affect tea?
The quality of water directly affects the quality of tea produced. Not only for brewing tea, but also for growing the tea leaves as well. There are three major factors that determine the quality of water used for the tea industry: purity, hardness, and pH levels.
Some standards that are used in the tea industry to determine the palatability of water used for tea include:
Hardness: 1-4 grains is ideal. Hard water can flatten the taste and cloud the tea.
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS): 50-150 parts per million (ppm) is the ideal level for good quality tea.
PH: Neutral (between 6-8); brewed tea will be slightly acidic, with a pH of 4.5-6.
When poor quality water is used to brew tea, it can heavily affect the color, taste/flavor, as well as aroma of the tea itself.
- Hardness can cause issues especially when the water is overwhelmed with calcium and magnesium; this may cause tea leaves to struggle with the infusion process. This can cause a cloudiness in the tea itself.
- The TDS levels in water can directly affect the taste of tea; high mineral content can cause a metallic taste, while distilled water which is void of minerals can cause a flat tasting tea.
- While pH is not as major as the other factors when it comes to water quality; variations in pH levels can cause some discrepancies when brewing tea. A pH that is higher than the ideal level of 7 will result in a darker tea infusion, while a pH that is lower than the ideal level can cause lighter tea infusion.
A reverse osmosis water filtration system can help alleviate the poor water quality in various regions. Reverse osmosis is quite literally the reverse of the osmosis process. Reverse osmosis requires a filter system that applies pressure to the potentially contaminated water; the contaminated water is passed through a semipermeable membrane within the filtration system where contaminants are removed from the water. The water produced from this filtration is considered desalinated, demineralized, or deionized; allowing purified water to pass through. The reverse osmosis filtration system can remove major contaminants, but this also requires a secondary system to reintroduce certain desired minerals for taste.
Another aspect of water that is heavily debated is the temperature used for brewing tea. The temperature of water when brewing tea can influence the quality of tea produced. Optimum water temperatures are a controversial topic as too gentle of a boil will restrict the tea leaves from releasing flavor; while water that is too heavily boiled can cause the tea to develop a dull or flat taste. It is generally agreed that the water should be boiled enough to introduce enough oxygen for optimal tea quality.
Cold brewing is another method of preparing tea for consumption. This method can assist in avoiding cloudy tea. Of course other factors must still be taken into consideration such as the actual water quality, hardness, pH levels. Cold brewing tea can take a longer time to steep/brew; however the process can still produce deep and rich flavors as long as the water quality is up to standards.
The common misconception is that the most important aspect of tea brewing is the tea leaves themselves. While the quality of tea leaves is extremely important; the quality of the water is equally important when steeping tea. Here at Fanale Drinks in Hayward, California; we have tea and boba experts that can assist you in producing the best quality tea for your business. Please feel free to email or call us via the Contact Us page on our website FanaleDrinks.com with any questions or inquiries regarding your tea business needs.
Partial information utilized from:
- Rebecca Chao