It’s the water, right?

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Lewis Perin

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Mar 10, 2011, 5:34:37 PM3/10/11
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As a lot of people know, when brewing tea the water can be as important
to the taste of the beverage as the leaves. It does bother me, though,
to think of what’s involved in trucking water halfway around the world
just to improve the taste in my cup.

I know there are products available to supply minerals small quantities
of would change the taste of tea, but I haven’t studied them.

Just as a probe into this topic, I wonder if anyone could suggest a way
to supplement, say, filtered New York City tap water

http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/pdf/wsstate09.pdf

(mineral analysis on p. 12) so its composition would approximate Volvic
mineral water?

http://www.mineralwaters.org/index.php?func=disp&parval=2761

If Scott Dorsey tells me, just add N milligrams/liter of Burton Water
Salts, I’ll be a happy man, but I kind of doubt it - there’s papain in
there, right?

/Lew
---
Lew Perin / pe...@acm.org
http://www.panix.com/~perin/babelcarp.html

Space Cowboy

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Mar 11, 2011, 6:45:10 AM3/11/11
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Is NYC water that bad. My brother-in-law who lives in Minnesota
convinced my wifes parents their SF water supply is polluted. They
bought an icebox with a charcoal filter for their drinking water. I
got the lecture on the last trip not to use tap water because of all
the nasty minerals. I wasnt going to argue that is a good thing. I
think my brother-in-law doesnt know his minerals from primordial
soup. It takes forever and a day to heat chilled water. My water
comes from a well 500ft into an acquifer. However at the pressure
tank there are bacteria which live on or produce iron oxide which adds
a taste. City folk tell me its the best water theyve every tasted. I
think the Japanese add rock to their water to supply extra minerals
which I think was discussed here at one point in time. You can
probably find something similar in the holistic community. I cant
tell you how many homes Ive seen with newly installed reverse osmosis
filtration because of newly borns. There was a period in the eighties
where delivered glass bottled water was fashionable but has been
replaced by discarded plastic in landfills. I know chlorine taste is
boiled off. The number one threat to the ecosystem is not climate
change but potable water. The wars in the future will be about water
as much as energy. I digress.

Jim

Lewis Perin

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Mar 11, 2011, 10:00:16 AM3/11/11
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Space Cowboy <nets...@ix.netcom.com> writes:

>Is NYC water that bad.

No, but I’ve had “bakeoff” experiences in which NYC tap brewed tea
noticeably inferior to certain mineral waters.

Scott Dorsey

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Mar 12, 2011, 11:31:11 AM3/12/11
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Lewis Perin <pe...@panix.com> wrote:
>Just as a probe into this topic, I wonder if anyone could suggest a way
>to supplement, say, filtered New York City tap water
>
> http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/pdf/wsstate09.pdf
>
>(mineral analysis on p. 12) so its composition would approximate Volvic
>mineral water?
>
> http://www.mineralwaters.org/index.php?func=disp&parval=2761
>
>If Scott Dorsey tells me, just add N milligrams/liter of Burton Water
>Salts, I’ll be a happy man, but I kind of doubt it - there’s papain in
>there, right?

Burton's Water Salts is gypsum, epsom salts, and I think potassium chloride.
It's a good first step toward making a pure water into a soft mineral water,
and it's certainly inexpensive enough to try.

I think the things you care about are sodium, potassium, iron, magnesium,
and calcium; if you get those more or less in the right ratios you should
be happy.
--scott
--
"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."

Lewis Perin

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Mar 12, 2011, 4:05:29 PM3/12/11
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klu...@panix.com (Scott Dorsey) writes:

>Lewis Perin <pe...@panix.com> wrote:
>>Just as a probe into this topic, I wonder if anyone could suggest a way
>>to supplement, say, filtered New York City tap water
>>
>> http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/pdf/wsstate09.pdf
>>
>>(mineral analysis on p. 12) so its composition would approximate Volvic
>>mineral water?
>>
>> http://www.mineralwaters.org/index.php?func=disp&parval=2761
>>
>>If Scott Dorsey tells me, just add N milligrams/liter of Burton Water

>>Salts, I’ll be a happy man, but I kind of doubt it - there’s papain in


>>there, right?
>
>Burton's Water Salts is gypsum, epsom salts, and I think potassium chloride.
>It's a good first step toward making a pure water into a soft mineral water,
>and it's certainly inexpensive enough to try.
>
>I think the things you care about are sodium, potassium, iron, magnesium,
>and calcium; if you get those more or less in the right ratios you should
>be happy.

Hmm. It’s actually pretty hard to get the numbers on Burton. But for
New York City vs. Volvic, if all 5 of your ions are really important, it
looks kind of bleak. Note the iron surplus NYC has:

NYC Volvic
sodium 9 9.4
potassium 0.5 5.7
iron 40 <0.01
magnesium 1.2 6.1
calcium 5.5 9.9

No supplementation - Burton or whatever - will affect that, and it’s
such a high ratio that dilution with distilled water would have to be,
well, homeopathic.

Scott Dorsey

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Mar 12, 2011, 8:14:53 PM3/12/11
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Lewis Perin <pe...@panix.com> wrote:
>Hmm. It's actually pretty hard to get the numbers on Burton.

That's because everyone has their own particular ratio of the three
ingredients. But it's basically adding calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

> But for
>New York City vs. Volvic, if all 5 of your ions are really important, it
>looks kind of bleak. Note the iron surplus NYC has:
>
> NYC Volvic
>sodium 9 9.4
>potassium 0.5 5.7
>iron 40 <0.01
>magnesium 1.2 6.1
>calcium 5.5 9.9

And my guess is that 90% of what you don't like about the NYC water is the
excess of iron. If it weren't for that, Burton's actually would fit the
bill for you.

>No supplementation - Burton or whatever - will affect that, and it’s
>such a high ratio that dilution with distilled water would have to be,
>well, homeopathic.

However, I bet distilled water and a little salts would be cheaper than
Volvic by a long shot.

Julien ÉLIE

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Mar 13, 2011, 5:31:48 AM3/13/11
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Hi Lewis,

> Just as a probe into this topic, I wonder if anyone could suggest a way
> to supplement, say, filtered New York City tap water

> (mineral analysis on p. 12) so its composition would approximate Volvic
> mineral water?

Volvic is indeed a great mineral water. Be careful, though, it contains
a certain amount of minerals. Volvic is not the best for all teas. I
personally use Volvic for Japanese green teas, pu er, black teas, and
deeply fermented or oxidized wulong.
For the rest (especially white and almost all Chinese green teas), I
prefer a lower mineralization than the one of Volvic. Otherwise, the
liquor is a bit flat.

Matt (amongst others) recently wrote about that subject:

http://mattchasblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/harmonizing-water-and-tea-choosing_28.html

--
Julien ÉLIE

« Ordinateur : moyen conçu pour accélérer et automatiser les
erreurs. »

Lewis Perin

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Mar 13, 2011, 8:20:12 PM3/13/11
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Julien ÉLIE <iul...@nom-de-mon-site.com.invalid> writes:

>Hi Lewis,
>
>> Just as a probe into this topic, I wonder if anyone could suggest a way
>> to supplement, say, filtered New York City tap water
>> (mineral analysis on p. 12) so its composition would approximate Volvic
>> mineral water?
>
>Volvic is indeed a great mineral water. Be careful, though, it contains
>a certain amount of minerals. Volvic is not the best for all teas. I
>personally use Volvic for Japanese green teas, pu er, black teas, and
>deeply fermented or oxidized wulong.

I once found it made a huge improvement, compared to filtered New York
City tap water, in brewing a Dancong.

>For the rest (especially white and almost all Chinese green teas), I
>prefer a lower mineralization than the one of Volvic. Otherwise, the
>liquor is a bit flat.

I take your point: it would be wrong to assume one water’s best for all teas.

Lewis Perin

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Mar 13, 2011, 8:41:54 PM3/13/11
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klu...@panix.com (Scott Dorsey) writes:

>Lewis Perin <pe...@panix.com> wrote:
>>Hmm. It's actually pretty hard to get the numbers on Burton.
>
>That's because everyone has their own particular ratio of the three
>ingredients. But it's basically adding calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
>
>> But for
>>New York City vs. Volvic, if all 5 of your ions are really important, it
>>looks kind of bleak. Note the iron surplus NYC has:
>>
>> NYC Volvic
>>sodium 9 9.4
>>potassium 0.5 5.7
>>iron 40 <0.01
>>magnesium 1.2 6.1
>>calcium 5.5 9.9
>
>And my guess is that 90% of what you don't like about the NYC water is the
>excess of iron. If it weren't for that, Burton's actually would fit the
>bill for you.
>

>>No supplementation - Burton or whatever - will affect that, and it’s


>>such a high ratio that dilution with distilled water would have to be,
>>well, homeopathic.
>
>However, I bet distilled water and a little salts would be cheaper than
>Volvic by a long shot.

Indeed. On the other hand...I need to apologize. I’ve done a bit more
web searching on the topic of iron in water, and the more I looked the
more it seemed 40mg/liter was an outlier. So I checked back at that NYC
water quality report, and iron’s denominated in *micro*grams. So NYC
tap’s iron level, while still higher than Volvic’s, might not be an
obstacle. I really need to try this.

Scott Dorsey

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Mar 13, 2011, 10:28:45 PM3/13/11
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Lewis Perin <pe...@panix.com> wrote:
>Indeed. On the other hand...I need to apologize. I’ve done a bit more
>web searching on the topic of iron in water, and the more I looked the
>more it seemed 40mg/liter was an outlier. So I checked back at that NYC
>water quality report, and iron’s denominated in *micro*grams.

Try the Burton's then... add it until you can taste it. When you can taste
it you've used too much.

The thing about iron is that a lot of it is leached into pipes within an
individual building if the building has older iron pipes. So even if the
city count is low, the count at your tap can be high.

Iron is also a major problem for Kodak-chemistry color film processing
as well. A friend of mine was moving his lab and did water samples from
all prospective locations he was considering and the variation was very
high.

Lewis Perin

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Mar 19, 2011, 6:27:09 PM3/19/11
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klu...@panix.com (Scott Dorsey) writes:

>Lewis Perin <pe...@panix.com> wrote:
>>Indeed. On the other hand...I need to apologize. I’ve done a bit more


>>web searching on the topic of iron in water, and the more I looked the
>>more it seemed 40mg/liter was an outlier. So I checked back at that NYC

>>water quality report, and iron’s denominated in *micro*grams.

>
>Try the Burton's then... add it until you can taste it. When you can taste
>it you've used too much.

OK, I went over to Brooklyn Homebrew yesterday evening and laid down 75
cents for a baggie of Burton/Trent salts. They didn’t have
documentation that would let me figure out the milligrams of each ion
per gram of the powder, but they did say they recommend that brewers use
30g per 5 gallons. So I decided to try 1 gram per liter.

So far, so good, I must say. I’ve brewed 3 different teas today that
I’m extremely familiar with: Sikkim Temi, a not-so-great Phoenix oolong,
and a pretty good Alishan oolong. They all came out significantly
better than I’ve experienced with filtered NYC tap water alone. To
varying extents with the 3 teas I’ve noticed improvements in aroma,
taste, and mouth feel. And my wife says her coffee tastes a lot better
with the mineral-doped water, too.

Lewis Perin

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Mar 30, 2011, 5:57:36 PM3/30/11
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Lewis Perin <pe...@panix.com> writes:

It’s probably time to follow up my own post, since I’ve been using “poor
man’s Volvic” for about a week and a half now. I’m currently working
with a lower concentration of Burton/Trent salts: about a half milligram
per liter. The most consistent effect I get is that astringency is
reduced a lot, so I can push the leaves harder in terms of steep
temperature and duration without the liquor becoming harsh. I find
myself using boiling PMV, e.g., with a very green, small-leaf
Tieguanyin, which I wouldn’t do with unaltered New York City tap water.
I’m typing this 20 minutes after a fifth steep of the TGY, and the
huigan seems to go on forever.

Space Cowboy

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Mar 31, 2011, 8:34:37 AM3/31/11
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If you add anything to tea you can taste it. I dont clean my cup. I
enjoy the tannins from the previous cups. I seem to remember city
water systems are ranked by the gov. Id like to know where NYC fits.
Mineral springs are very common around here. After a good soak I spend
an hour in the shower getting rid of the crusty feeling. My wife
enjoys the sandpaper effect. It is very common to read an article
about the mineral content of each spring. All the hot springs have
the disclaimer:This spring can kill you if you are diabetic or have
heart disease. Ill occasionally read about someone rushed to a
hospital from a spring. I will say there is nothing more trancendant
than sitting in a hot spring during a snow storm.

Jim

PS My one neighbor is a retired water treatment engineer. His
biggest complaint they didnt filter for pharmaceuticals.

Lewis Perin

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Mar 31, 2011, 9:21:40 AM3/31/11
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Lewis Perin <pe...@panix.com> writes:

Actually, I should have read what I typed. It’s a half *gram*, not
milligram, per liter that I’m adding to New York City tap water these
days. Thanks to Wrongfucha for alerting me to this!

Julien ÉLIE

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Apr 1, 2011, 2:48:42 PM4/1/11
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Hi Lewis,

> It’s probably time to follow up my own post, since I’ve been using “poor
> man’s Volvic” for about a week and a half now.

Which means that you experimented that Volvic performs badly?
Did you try it with Japanese green teas, old sheng cha and wu yi wulong
teas?


> I find
> myself using boiling PMV, e.g., with a very green, small-leaf
> Tieguanyin, which I wouldn’t do with unaltered New York City tap water.
> I’m typing this 20 minutes after a fifth steep of the TGY, and the
> huigan seems to go on forever.

Volvic would indeed perform badly on such teas. It is not meant to be
used with them.

--
Julien ÉLIE

« Rien ne serpe de courir ! » (Druides gaulois)

Lewis Perin

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Apr 3, 2011, 3:31:11 PM4/3/11
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Julien ÉLIE <iul...@nom-de-mon-site.com.invalid> writes:

>Hi Lewis,
>
>> It's probably time to follow up my own post, since I've been using "poor
>> man's Volvic" for about a week and a half now.
>
>Which means that you experimented that Volvic performs badly?

No, I’m afraid I used an English idiom without considering that not all
my readers are native speakers of the language. When I wrote “poor
man’s Volvic” it was not a value judgment, only an indication that the
New York tap water plus added minerals was an cheap, improvised
approximation to Volvic water. I continue to hold true Volvic in high
regard. Also, since I’m now using a lower concentration of Burton/Trent
salts in by tea brewing water, I’ve actually diverged more from true
Volvic in order to compound an all-purpose water that might perform
reasonably well with different types of tea leaves.

>Did you try it with Japanese green teas, old sheng cha and wu yi wulong
>teas?

I have tried the “poor man’s Volvic” with mediocre Wuyi oolong and have
had good results. The oldest sheng Pu’er I’ve tried it with has been
from 2003, and I was quite happy with the resulting liquor. I don’t
have any sencha or gyokuro on hand currently.

>> I find myself using boiling PMV, e.g., with a very green, small-leaf
>> Tieguanyin, which I wouldn't do with unaltered New York
>> City tap water. I'm typing this 20 minutes after a fifth
>> steep of the TGY, and the huigan seems to go on forever.
>
>Volvic would indeed perform badly on such teas. It is not meant to be
>used with them.

What water do you like to use with these teas?

Julien ÉLIE

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Apr 3, 2011, 5:28:49 PM4/3/11
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Hi Lewis,

>>> It's probably time to follow up my own post, since I've been using "poor
>>> man's Volvic" for about a week and a half now.
>>
>> Which means that you experimented that Volvic performs badly?
>
> No, I’m afraid I used an English idiom without considering that not all
> my readers are native speakers of the language. When I wrote “poor
> man’s Volvic” it was not a value judgment, only an indication that the
> New York tap water plus added minerals was an cheap, improvised
> approximation to Volvic water.

Oh, understood!
It is true that I had been a bit confused when I read your last article.

>>> I find myself using boiling PMV, e.g., with a very green, small-leaf
>>> Tieguanyin, which I wouldn't do with unaltered New York
>>> City tap water. I'm typing this 20 minutes after a fifth
>>> steep of the TGY, and the huigan seems to go on forever.
>>
>> Volvic would indeed perform badly on such teas. It is not meant to be
>> used with them.
>
> What water do you like to use with these teas?

With such teas, I use very low minerality (TDS about 20 or lower).
Mont-Roucous or Montcalm water as far as I am concerned:

http://www.finewaters.com/Bottled_Water/France/Mont_Roucous.asp
http://www.finewaters.com/Bottled_Water/France/Auzat.asp

Incidentally, this finewaters.com web site is awesome :-)

--
Julien ÉLIE

« Tant qu'il y a des marmites, il y a de l'espoir ! » (Astérix)

Lewis Perin

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Apr 3, 2011, 8:24:20 PM4/3/11
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Julien ÉLIE <iul...@nom-de-mon-site.com.invalid> writes:

>[...]


>>>> I find myself using boiling PMV, e.g., with a very green, small-leaf
>>>> Tieguanyin, which I wouldn't do with unaltered New York
>>>> City tap water. I'm typing this 20 minutes after a fifth
>>>> steep of the TGY, and the huigan seems to go on forever.
>>>
>>> Volvic would indeed perform badly on such teas. It is not meant to be
>>> used with them.
>>
>> What water do you like to use with these teas?
>
>With such teas, I use very low minerality (TDS about 20 or lower).
>Mont-Roucous or Montcalm water as far as I am concerned:
>
> http://www.finewaters.com/Bottled_Water/France/Mont_Roucous.asp

pH of 6 - that’s pretty acidic.

> http://www.finewaters.com/Bottled_Water/France/Auzat.asp
>
>Incidentally, this finewaters.com web site is awesome :-)

Yes, it’s very informative; thanks!

I forgot to ask you: how would you describe the negative effect a water
like Volvic has on greens and “green” oolongs?

Julien ÉLIE

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Apr 4, 2011, 1:39:01 PM4/4/11
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Hi Lewis,

Yeah, even 5.85, as marked on the bottle. Yet, it gives amazingly good
results.

> I forgot to ask you: how would you describe the negative effect a water
> like Volvic has on greens and “green” oolongs?

Less flavour (which is an important aspect in wulongs) and generally
speaking less depth (less long-lasting/hui gan).

--
Julien ÉLIE

« Whenever you set out to do something, something else must be done
first. » (Murphy's Fourth Corollary)

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