Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Case For Distilled Water Brewed Tea

Time to be controversial, I feel like this happens a lot with me and tea, so not surprising, I tend to have opinions that clash with accepted norms and guess what, I like it like that. Today's big controversy is all about that water, specifically distilled water! A while ago I did a gongfoolery post comparing various bottled waters, expounding on their virtues and failings, and boy have things changed since then, specifically my opinion on distilled water. In that post I said that Smart Water (the vapor distilled one) was nasty and to avoid distilled waters...well I am admitting it...I was wrong. Specifically avoid distilled waters that have minerals and electrolytes added to it because it will warp the taste.

Back in the spring of 2017 I started noticing that my usual filtration system just was not cutting it, either quality control for the filters had started going down the crapper or my ability to detect every minute amount of minerals and such in the water was getting more intense. I was not really liking the way it affected my tea, so I decided to give distilled water a try, along with the store filtered water just to see if I had a preference. Oh boy did I ever!! And so here are the pros and cons of that discovery.
The lighting in the corner of the tearoom is absolutely awful

I have a Zojurushi, mineral deposits are bad for these machines, since switching to distilled water I have not had to clean the mineral crust from my house's hard water off of it and that is so nice. Same with when I switch to using my normal kettle (like when I was on vacation, yes I traveled with my electric kettle) no more dealing with the stupid mineral deposits. My teaware is also happy about this, especially my clear glass pieces.

The tea tastes amazing! I do not see where other tea bloggers and tasters say that tea made with distilled water tastes flat and dull, to me it very much does not. With distilled water I know exactly what I am tasting, bitter notes, mineral notes, sweet notes...they are all provided by the tea and not minerals and additives in water. The mouthfeel is clean (unless the tea is not) the notes are just as intense if not more so since there is no distraction of the water. Granted, I have been told by people that my sense of taste is freakishly intense, so maybe the water being anything other than super pure is just something that bothers me. In my experimenting I gave Ben a side by side test of waters (this man drinks tap water just fine where tap water legit makes me gag because of the chlorine and hardness) and he said the tea made with distilled tasted a bit sweeter than the tea made with filtered water, where the filtered water had an underlying bitterness. Well meaning tea friends have tried to convince me I am wrong and that I should just use spring water, but distilled water is the way for me from now on.

It isn't perfect though, like all things there are flaws to be found. The most obvious one is cost, distilled water ain't free, yo. It costs about $.75-1 per gallon at the grocery store and I go through about three-four gallons a week, not a huge cost but it does add up. Plus the is the horror of all that plastic waste, even with recycling I do not like how wasteful it is at all. A home distiller is really not cheap, running you anywhere from $90-several hundreds, plus reviews of them are pretty mixed which is why I have not bit the bullet on that one yet. I do hope to get a home distiller after I move in a few months, but first I need to figure out which one is best. Or, an even better option, where ever I move to having a 'fill your own' station for distilled water like they do with filtered water at most stores.

One possible negative to some that I consider a positive is, I no longer get tea drunk. Chaqi still exists and I can feel the tingly happiness of teas, but I no longer get tanked off tea. Maybe this is what people were warning me about with tea being diminished? To me though this is a plus, it means I can drink more tea, it also means my post tea-drunk headaches and IBS have gone away which is nice. I should point out I am not entirely sure this is just the distilled water though, right when I switched something changed in my body and my metabolism slowed down a good bit (finally, I gained weight after a lifetime of being underweight, at times dangerously so) and my IBS mostly went away. It could all be related to the water, but that seems unlikely, most likely it is a result of me getting older...granted when I go out to tea I do have issues with getting tea drunk and a lot of times that results in stomach woes and a splitting headache, but I cannot rule out that it could be psychosomatic.

Really that is a problem with all of this, tea tasting, water types, reactions to tea and water...how much of it is there and how much of it is because I want it to be there? It is something I struggle with, always trying to make sure that my perceptions are what is there and not some subconscious thing causing the illusion of perception.

Well...that got philosophical...

4 comments:

  1. Hi Amanda,

    Although I've never been one to bow to conventional opinion, I just can't agree that distilled water is the best way to enjoy tea for most people.

    That said, have you considered having distilled water delivered to you on a biweekly basis? One benefit, apart from fewer trips to the grocery store, is that you can get the water bottled in - well - bottles (i.e.glass.) The cost of this way of getting water this way is a little more expensive (about 1.50/gal.) but the benefits of glass both to you and to the environment make it worthwhile in my view (more so when you add in the costs of constantly going to the store to get a plastic jug.)

    As for me, I'll stick to my glass bottled spring water for now. The results are pretty good.

    Cheers,

    David

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    1. Hi David!
      I certainly don't want to convince people that my way is best, I am a big fan of 'experiment and find what is best for you' with tea and just like documenting my weird experiments.

      Getting water delivered is way up on my things to do list once I move in a couple months, mostly because as you say blech to plastic. Though I am lucky because my grocery store here is within walking distance so I am not burning money on gas.

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  2. Water for tea is such a personal thing and I think you'll get a different answer on it from every tea drinker. Spring water can vary quite a bit too. I personally hate the way that tea made with Poland Spring tastes but there other brands that I do enjoy.

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  3. Hello
    Distilled water the way to go use 18lt.glass bottle or reusable plastic....and tea is tasting as it should
    ..

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