Thanks to third wave coffee, many people know the absolute best water type and temperature for coffee. When it comes to tea, most people are still in the dark. You may think water is water but because tea flavor is much more delicate than coffee, the water you use will make or break the taste of your tea.
A lot of people don't realize how important water is in making tea. Water that tastes good on its own, or in brewed coffee won't necessarily make great tea. Since tea has a wide range of styles and flavors, the water you use has a big impact of how your tea tastes. Here’s what you need to know to choose the best water for making truly delicious tea.
Spring water is your best bet. Tea molecules need to bind to minerals in the water in order to create flavor. The brightest flavor you can get out of high quality leaves is natural spring water. Our favorite local brand is Arrowhead.
Purified water is also pretty good. Whether it’s done at the bottling factory or in your home water filter, purifying water removes some of the chemicals or minerals that can make your water, and your tea taste yucky. Be mindful that some bottled water brands label their water purified when instead it’s distilled. Although distilled water may taste good on its own, it’s missing the minerals needed to make tea taste good.
Distilled water makes bad-tasting tea. At best, tea made with distilled water (zero mineral content) tastes flat and flavorless. It’s like drinking colored water. Who wants to go through the trouble of brewing tea for that? At worst, it tastes bitter. Tea can have some tart or astringent flavor from tannins, but no tea is supposed to be straight-up bitter.
Reverse osmosis water and softened water dulls flavor. Tea made with these types of water doesn’t taste especially bad, but you won’t get the brightest, best flavors from your leaves with it.
When it comes to water temperature, it’s important to know that the time and temperature you steep your leaves are crucial. Our system is simple: brew your tea 4-5 minutes depending on how strong you like it, and use lower temperature for the same amount of time with green, white, or oolong. If you want to always have tea that tastes the way you like it, it's worth investing in a temperature-controlled water kettle. Our favorite is by KitchenAid.