You might not think that the type of water you use for tea makes much of a difference when it comes to the flavor and presentation of your finished cup, but you’d be wrong. Different kinds of water have a serious impact on the way your tea ends up tasting when it’s brewed.
The best water for tea is purified water because it has a completely neutral pH of 7. Purified water keeps the tea from developing off-flavors from the pH properties of the water it’s brewed in. Some types of water, such as tap water and mineral water, are too alkaline to be good for brewing tea.
If your tap water is too hard to brew good tea, there are a few different alternatives you can try to improve your tea’s flavor. Read on to learn more about the effect of water pH on tea brewing and how you can get the best version of your tea.
Purified Water is the Best Water for Tea
Even though you can effectively make a pot of tea with any water as long as it’s clean, the type of water you use when you brew your tea can make it taste much different depending on what kind of water you use.
Purified water is considered the best type of water for tea if you’re trying to bring out all the subtle nuances of the tea’s flavor since it is a completely neutral flavor that won’t contribute any flavor to the brew. This lack of flavor leaves the flavor of the tea to stand all on its own and taste consistent every time.
Why Do You Need a Neutral pH for Tea?
The reason that pH has such an impact on the flavor of tea is that water gives tea a different taste depending on whether the water is alkaline or acidic.
- Alkaline, or “hard” water, has a pH of 7.1 or higher. Alkaline water can cause tea to have a bitter, almost metallic flavor that is harsh on the palate.
- Acidic water is “soft” water that has a pH of 6.9 or lower. Acidic water can flatten the flavors in tea, causing it to taste dull. However, one benefit of acidic water is that it can improve the dissolution of aromatics in the tea.
- Neutral water has a pH of exactly 7.0, which is neither acidic nor basic. Neutral water does not affect the flavor of tea.
When brewing tea, the ideal procedure is to brew it so that the water doesn’t impact the flavor of the tea one way or the other. You just want to taste the tea. This is why purified water reigns supreme when it comes to determining which water is best for tea brewing.
Does Tea Taste Better with Filtered Water?
Water that is filtered may filter out a lot of the contaminants that influence the flavor of tea. However, they don’t remove all of the contaminants that water purification systems are capable of removing.
Filtered water can influence the taste of tea if the activated carbon filter the water is passed through raises the water’s pH. Some filters do raise your water’s pH, especially if you use a filter that is connected to your faucet.
An alkaline pH can affect how your tea tastes, so purified water is a better option if you’re concerned about pH when you’re brewing tea.
Should You Use Mineral Water for Tea?
Mineral water should not be used to brew tea because this water is naturally hard from the minerals present in it. Boiling hard water can bring out harsh metallic flavor notes in the tea, especially if you’re brewing a more bitter tea type such as black tea.
You may even have tap water that is naturally high in minerals if you’re constantly wondering how to clean your kettle because it’s always filled with sediment. If this is the case, you may want to use purified water for your tea.
Should You Use Distilled Water for Tea?
Distilled water should not be used to brew tea since this water is soft. Soft water may be a good option for some specific tea types such as green tea and jasmine tea, but it will muddy the flavors of others.
What Bottled Water Should You Use for Tea?
If you’re planning to use bottled water rather than tap to brew your tea, you should be careful to check the label of the bottled water you buy. Choose bottled water that is labeled as “purified water” rather than “mineral water”, “spring water”, or “distilled water”. The latter three types will not have the pH you want for the optimal cup of tea.
What Type of Water is Best for Green Tea?
While acidic water isn’t normally the go-to choice for making tea, there are a few types of tea which benefit from being brewed in acidic water. Since acidic water makes aromatic teas smell stronger, these are a few tea types that may smell (and taste) better if brewed in soft water:
- Green tea: Green tea is a delicate tea that sometimes has a slightly bitter and astringent flavor. Soft water can help flatten this astringent taste and leave the tea more mellow.
- Mint tea: Mint tea is an herbal tea mix that’s prized for its bracing aromatic smell and flavor due to the chemical menthol that it contains. Acidic tea can enhance the fragrance of mint tea and increase enjoyment in it.
- Jasmine tea: Jasmine tea is a floral tea that has a subtly perfumed scent. This scent can be made richer by brewing the jasmine blossoms in a slightly acidic water base.
You should still be able to get a good cup of green, mint, or jasmine tea even if you don’t have soft water. The aromatic qualities of the tea may be slightly less intense as a result of using water with a neutral pH.
For the Best Water for Tea Look for a Neutral pH
Many people brew their tea straight out of the tap and think nothing more about it, and if you’re a casual tea drinker that might be good enough for you on most days.
However, if you’re a tea enthusiast and you want to train your palate to be more sensitive to the different flavors that can be found in the tea world, starting with a neutral pH and a neutral flavor in your brewing water is the best way to start.