The other day, a customer asked me while sipping on a freshly brewed cup of her favorite tea, "Dani, why does the same tea tastes so much better when I drink it here than when I brew it at home?"
Several reasons came immediately to my mind. The quality of the tea certainly plays an important role, as does the amount of tea you use, the brewing temperature, and the steeping time. Often overlooked, though, is the quality of your water.
If your tea has a sharp or metallic taste, you may have hard water, which means that your water's pH-level may be high and rich in dissolved minerals, such as calcium and magnesium.
Soft water, however, has a low pH-level and contains only a few minerals, which is rarely ideal for tea either.
What about distilled water? Free of minerals, distilled water often makes your tea taste bland and dull. Having some minerals in the water is actually a good thing because they make the tea taste better.
Here is what I do.
I use a countertop filter in my store and at home. Such a filter system is easy and convenient. It removes chlorine, calcium, magnesium, and other minerals from the water that would otherwise reduce the taste of my tea.
Would bottled water be even better?
If you prefer to go with bottled water, I would recommend choosing spring water that is pH-neutral and has a perfect balance of minerals - not too many and not too few. You may have to experiment a bit before you find the right brand. And when you do, don't be surprised if the water is quite costly, especially if you drink a lot of tea as I do - let alone the environmental impact of all the plastic bottles. If I am asked whether to use bottled spring water for making tea, my general rule of thumb is, "If you like the taste of your tap water after you ran it through a water filter, then you will probably also be happy with the taste of your tea."
Enjoy your tea, and don't forget to check out my online store for some great tea ideas.