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Best water for coffee & tea brewing?


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A couple of posts in the Coffee and Tea forum have raised the issue of the importance of water quality to getting the best cup. One by naftal and this by andiesenji.

Well, it was a whole two weeks.  Too long to be without my faves!

As I mentioned on another thread, I like my Senseo coffee first thing in the morning, however I then transition to tea and drink various types until late in the evening.

Thus the caffeine-free teas - although caffeine does not keep me awake, I had promised my doctor to avoid it in the evening so it wouldn't affect my blood pressure.

I do try to be good - as much as possible. :rolleyes:

I also can't stand the way some "foreign" waters affect teas.  Thus the purifier.

I have a purifying system for water at home, even though I am on a well and the water is excellent - there are some minerals that do make a difference.

I use a simple Britta filter jug and also have started experimenting with bottled mineral water for my best teas, but am not far enough along to report on that yet.

How important is the water you use to your coffee and tea brewing? What do you use to get the best out of your beans and leaves?

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Using good water is important for good coffee, but it's critical for good tea.

We've got two water sources at home: a dug well (shallow, soft) with a UV filter, and a reverse osmosis 5 gallon carboy with hot and cold taps. When I make coffee, I can't tell the difference but tea is another story.

And why does microwaved water makes such crappy tea?

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Anyone with a tea kettle can determine the difference in water by looking at the solids that accumulate on the inside of the kettle.

My well water has excellent taste when cold and straight from the well. It contains a significant amount of various minerals that contribute to the taste. My well is tested by the state every year and ranks in the top 1/10th of one percent of privately owned wells in the state.

However, these same minerals, calcium is quite high, precipitate out of the water when it is boiled along with other minerals and some go through a change at particular temperatures.

These minerals affect how the tea reacts as the various components are infused into the hot water.

Sometimes, in clear glass brewing vessels, one can see particulates clumping and dropping to the bottom. These do not form when filtered water is the brewing medium so something is different.

I have filtered these things through coffee filters and the feel of the stuff is gritty, not soft as the tea residue should be.

I had a 3-stage filter system installed where the water line enters my home after the '94 earthquake. I also have access to city water via a line from the main that was installed in 2001, just in case something happens to the well. I for sure want that water filtered before using it.

If anyone has ever sampled the water around Santa Maria/Lompoc, one can understand why people there use more bottled water, per capita, than anywhere except Beverly Hills.

The water stinks, is at best cloudy and at worst, murky.

It is impossible to make any type of beverage and have it drinkable with the local water.

I have several friends who live in the area and all have installed various systems to clean up the water. Even bathing it is objectionable to me.

At present I have an ongoing argument with certain Calif. state officials because the Berkey SS water purifiers, which are very efficient, can't be sold in the state, except for the little travel Berkey.

Brita just does not do it for me, I want something stronger.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Try making the same tea with well water from different locales and you'll come to understand the importance of getting the right water. My own well water here in Eastern Pennsylvania is what I'm used to, and makes fine tasting tea. I took a trip up the Hudson Valley to visit friends up there and brought some very nice tea along (a Taiwanese ginseng oolong), and tried to make a pot with the local water. The tea came out with an iron twang and a sulfury aroma. The tap water there gave no hint of either iron or sulfur, but when added to tea, both flavors appeared. I'd hate to be stuck living someplace with water like that.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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I've had my Big Berkey for 4 years now and LOVE it. The Brita is just nothing compared to a Berkey. Phoenix tap water gets murky/smelly during the summer months (I think it's algae residue from the canals maybe that just doesn't get worked out by the municipal treatment). When I was in Tasmania, one museum there actually had a colonial sand-filter Berkey. I was excited to take a picture of it, my husband just rolled his eyes. He thinks I am unnaturally attached to the Berkey. But he does admit the water out of it is the best for coffee and tea. I don't understand California's ban on Berkeys either.

Anyone with a tea kettle can determine the difference in water by looking at the solids that accumulate on the inside of the kettle.

My well water has excellent taste when cold and straight from the well.  It contains a significant amount of various minerals that contribute to the taste.  My well is tested by the state every year and ranks in the top 1/10th of one percent of privately owned wells in the state.

However, these same minerals, calcium is quite high, precipitate out of the water when it is boiled along with other minerals and some go through a change at particular temperatures.

These minerals affect how the tea reacts as the various components are infused into the hot water.

Sometimes, in clear glass brewing vessels, one can see particulates clumping and dropping to the bottom.  These do not form when filtered water is the brewing medium so something is different.

I have filtered these things through coffee filters and the feel of the stuff is gritty, not soft as the tea residue should be. 

I had a 3-stage filter system installed where the water line enters my home after the '94 earthquake.  I also have access to city water via a line from the main that was installed in 2001, just in case something happens to the well.  I for sure want that water filtered before using it.

If anyone has ever sampled the water around Santa Maria/Lompoc, one can understand why people there use more bottled water, per capita, than anywhere except Beverly Hills.

The water stinks, is at best cloudy and at worst, murky.

It is impossible to make any type of beverage and have it drinkable with the local water.

I have several friends who live in the area and all have installed various systems to clean up the water.  Even bathing it is objectionable to me.

At present I have an ongoing argument with certain Calif. state officials because the Berkey SS water purifiers, which are very efficient, can't be sold in the state, except for the little travel Berkey.

Brita just does not do it for me, I want something stronger.

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I use tap water, without exception. We have an in-line Sears filter welded into the pipes that does a pretty good job of removing the chlorine aroma, as long as I remember to change the filter regularly.

The best bottled spring water never works as well - I've certainly tried. I think that this is because it's become de-oxygenated from sitting around. Always yields a flat cup.

There was one tea merchant - it may have been Fortnum & Mason, don't have time to research this morn - that offered to create the optimal tea blend for your particular water. You'd send them a sample of your water & they would analyze it & send you back some tea. I never tried it; for one thing it was twice the cost of their regular teas.

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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I am not familiar with the Berkey line and would like to try one sometime, even though the water here is pretty good most of the year - and even with just the Britta does a decent job for my tea. When the lakes (resevoirs) turn over, some area water supplies can take on an off-taste for a few weeks, but the Britta deals with that fairly well.

I do use the Britta filtered tap water for coffee, too, and can tell a difference. Not as much as I can with tea, but the difference is there.

There are competitors to the Britta filter pitchers. Has anyone used both the Britta and any of the others?

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My first experience with the Berkey system purifiers was when I had a motorhome and found that the inline filters at the filler valve simply did not provide me with water that was up to my standards.

Berkey info.

At that time the unit that was installed in my rig was called British Berkefeld Water Filtration System

and it was essentially the same as the presently available "Royal" Berkey but used 8 of the filters which have been developed to be more efficient at transferring the water through the system.

That system was also capable of taking water from lakes, streams or questionable water supply pipes in camping areas and producing a pure, safe water that always tasted great.

It was fairly expensive at the time but I have always been willing to pay for what I feel is necessary.

There are accessory filters that attach to the black filters and remove fluoride and arsenic from suspect water.

I have friends who live in the high Sierras (on the Nevada side) and operate a B&B where the ground water from their well contains rather insignificant amounts of arsenic and they have been using Berkeys for several years, both to protect their guests and avoid any possibility of litigation.

They also provide their guests with the "Sport" Berkeys when they go out hiking. They have told me that many of their guests have requested information about the units and some of their repeat guests have purchased them.

I have tried the Brita, Pur and another "portable" filer system and none worked well for me.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Hello-My two personal rules regarding water:I never use distilled water. And (if possible) I don't reboil the same water. I am very flexable on this second rule.If I am making only one cup at a time, I may reboil the water.This is especially true if I am making black tea. I am sorry for getting OT. I guess I should just say that IMHO any water that is not distilled is fine with me.

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)

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  • 1 year later...

What happens when you boil water the previous day, and then let it cool? Then, you heat up that water again for coffee and tea? Shouldn't that be better because you've precitated out the calcium minerals the first time around, or would that make the tea and coffee worse?

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I only drink coffee, black, and use tap water 99.99% of the time. If I happen to have a leftover bottle of water from a car trip I will use that up, but have never noticed any particular difference. There are too many other niggling variables that affect the flavor of the coffee much more than the water seems to that I'm not sure I could ever ferret out the difference.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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My home region has award winning tap water. I boil tap water directly, and use a britta filter for cold water. But actually I can't taste difference between my tap water and filtered water. :laugh:

If you would like to, you can also try boiling snow into water. I did it and it was pretty good, still not better than my tap water though :smile:

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Hello-My two personal rules regarding water:I never use distilled water. And (if possible) I don't reboil the same water. I am very flexable on this second rule.If I am making only one cup at a time, I may reboil the water.This is especially true if I am making black tea. I am sorry for getting OT. I guess I should just say that IMHO any water that is not distilled is fine with me.

Me too the same rules! And I am not flexible on either of them :biggrin:

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I use britta-filtered NYC tap water. The filter makes a difference, primarily because the water hear has noticeable amounts of chlorine in it. Sometimes in the summer, they put in gobbs of chlorine (like when they detect cryptosporidium, or other such things) ... then the water makes ghastly coffee and tea. In general the water here is quite good, besides that, and a humble britta removes enough to make it undetectable.

Some people in the city have nasty pipes ... their water tastes strongly of rust and other minerals. Brittas work well for them, too. I would not trust a britta if I thought there was anything actually hazardous in the water. It's not purifier ... not even close.

Boiled water tastes bad because most of the disolved air has been driven out. You can make it fresh again just by shaking it up. Try a side-by-side test. It's pretty cool.

Notes from the underbelly

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This website here seems to offer a conclusion based on various reports that have been done by people such as Consumer Reports and Good Housekeeping. I would love to find a convenient way of making our city water drinkable, as right now it tastes as though it has come straight from the lake down the road.
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Actually, Tony, your water comes from a lake just up the road. I have been using a Britta pitcher and it does a good job for my taste buds, but I have not tried anything else. Next time I run out of filters, I may try a Pur.

You may want to consider one of the solutions up topic, particularly the Berkey recommended by andiesenji. If I was going to go to something more serious, it would be the travel version, since I could, well, camp and travel with it, as well as use it on the counter.

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I do have one of the Crown Berkey units in my pantry, for the "just in case" earthquake event that might disrupt the water lines in my house and possibly allow contamination into my well water. I live within sight of the San Andreas fault zone (23 miles away at its nearest point to me) and ground motion here would probably be enough to cause severe problems.

I have the standard filters and a full set of extras because, as we have seen in Haiti, a big problem following such an event is good water.

I also have the "travel" unit and posted a photo in another thread as I take it with me when I travel and am going to be in a particular site for more than a day or so.

As I mentioned in earlier posts, I have friends who have the big units, which are still not sold in California. I'm not that far from Nevada and have a friend that lives near the state line so I buy them, have them shipped to her and drive over to pick them up for other people who want them and can pick them up at my home or meet me somewhere convenient for both of us.

I still have not received a satisfactory answer from my state senator as to why this is. Other people have told me that the bottled water industry has socked a lot of money into keeping their monopoly.

Anyway, I recommend the Berkey unconditionally for people who have water that has a high mineral content or bad taste/smell.

I also recommend this vendor: http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/berkey_light_big_berkey_water_filter_british_berkefeld_portable_purifier.aspx

I have purchased many appliances and other bits and pieces from them and have found they are more accessible and more helpful than most.

Berkey.jpg

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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  • 2 months later...

I have not yet sprung for a Berkey, but did get an inexpensive Pur 3-stage faucet mount. Easy installation - took me about 10 - 15 minutes to do it. Too late for tea tonight, but I did compare it to the Britta pitcher and can tell the difference. I'll have more to say after using the Pur filtered water to brew with a few times.

Does anyone else use this simple solution?

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I use water from my kitchen filter unit.

I know people have been discussing the taste as a reason for using filtered water but one of the reasons that I use it rather than tap water is to reduce the likelihood of scaling and other sediments inside my espresso machine.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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This website here seems to offer a conclusion based on various reports that have been done by people such as Consumer Reports and Good Housekeeping. I would love to find a convenient way of making our city water drinkable, as right now it tastes as though it has come straight from the lake down the road.

I remember looking at that same report on the website last year, and they had rated the PUR filter higher than Brita for their best water filter pitcher so I'm not sure what changed since then.

Keep in mind, that website is only as good as the sources it uses. The problem is that it relies too much on Consumer Reports for stuff that CR doesn't really do well on. (I'm not sure what topic I would trust CR on). Ask yourself this: would you really trust CR's rating on food?

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I see that the linked site also recommends the Pur 3-stage horizontal faucet mount. While the flow rate is not as fast through the filter as it is when the filter is by-passed, it's a lot faster and more convenient than a filter pitcher. No leaks on mine. The third stage is important, because it puts selected minerals into the water, those important to the taste. I can tell a difference compared to water out of my Britta pitcher. I'll have to use it more to tell how much of a difference it makes when used for tea.

I'll report back when I have used this for a month or two. The 3-stage filter itself is advertised as good for 100 gallons, compared to 40 gallons for the pitcher's filter, so it costs a little over twice as much as the pitcher filter. The prices on that site for the fixture with one filter are way high. They say $49, but mine cost $30 at WAL-MART.

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