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Brewing Tea: Is All Water Created Equal?

In 773, Lu Yu stumbled upon a spring underneath a 6-foot round rock and the water from the spring was extremely clear and clean. When Lu Yu brewed tea with this spring water he found the tea tasted unexpectedly better than usual. From then on Lu Yu realized the importance of quality water in brewing tea. Assuming that you don't live at the foot a mountain spring, here are some more practical brewing options.

High Quality H20

Bottled Water
Quality spring water is the optimal bottled water for tea, but some types are better than others. Mineral water is too hard and may leave your tea tasting metallic or harsh. Distilled water is too low in minerals and will brew into flat-tasting tea.

The best spring water for tea should be neutral in pH (about 7) and in flavor. It should have a Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) content of 30 parts per million (PPM) or less.¹

Tap Water
Aside from fresh mountain stream water and good-quality bottled spring water, filtered tap water is generally the best option for brewing tea. Some neutral-tasting tap water may not even need to be filtered.¹

Kettle vs. Microwave

Water heated in a kettle creates a natural convection current, which uniformly heats the contents of the kettle to a boil. Unlike the natural boiling process of a kettle, microwaves don’t heat water evenly. Microwave can create isolated pockets of very hot or boiling water amid a larger body of cooler water - creating a misleadingly appearance of boiling despite not being a uniform 212 degrees.²

Steeping Temperature (general)

Tea Type Fahrenheit Brewing Time
White Tea 165-175ºF 2-3 min.
Green Tea 165-175ºF 1-3 min.
Oolong Tea 185-195ºF 3-4 min.
Black Tea 212ºF 4-5 min.
Herbal Tea 212ºF 5-12 min.
Pu-erh Tea 212ºF 5-6 min.


Works Cited

1. Water for Tea Brewing
2. Why Does Microwaving Water Result in Such Lousy Tea?

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