Your Cart is Empty

Water chemistry

Its liquor is like the sweetest dew from Heaven.

By Paloma Jones


Water is the matriarch of tea.
Paired with the guidance, water is the most fundamental element of any brewing ritual.

It is when tea leaves and water meet that their true bond begins to unravel. A great tea activated with median water can stagnate the full potential of the blend.
The amalgamation between these elements has long been contemplated. Historically, water sources were matched purposefully with tea blends to best articulate the distinct flavour profiles provided by each botanical.

Naturally, not all water supplies were deemed equal. Earth water pertained to water collected from springs, streams, rivers, lakes, and wells. Snow, sleet, hail, and rain were praised as heavenly waters. Each origin was mindfully considered for its compatibility with certain teas and was calculated with incredible sensitivity.
For example, snow gathered off a plum tree was believed to attribute different qualities than the snow provided from a pine tree and so on. There are countless legends surrounding the hypersensitivity of the tea sages of the past.

Lu Yu

Lu Yu was a prominent figure; a tea connoisseur and author from China during the 8th century.
For his contributions to Chinese tea culture, he is known as the Sage of Tea. His monumental book The Classic of Tea (translated from Cha Jing), the first comprehensive work on cultivating, preparing, and drinking tea, is his most well-known work.

By mere chance, or perhaps in his eyes, divine intervention, Lu Yu discovered a spring of water with crystal-like purity, sheltered beneath a 6-foot boulder. When Lu Yu prepared tea using the spring water, he found the taste superior to normal, and realized the importance of water quality in brewing tea from that moment on.

An ancient anecdote surrounding this revelation illustrates Lu Yu and his training of a wealthy scholar in the mastery of tea. During one of their exchanges, Lu Yu proclaimed of a small islet located in the yellow river called the tiger’s eye.

He spoke of how the current gently whisked the water rather than disrupt it, creating an immaculate pairing with green teas. Within an instance of the words leaving the sage’s mouth, the affluent apprentice orders his servants to retrieve water from the tiger’s eye. However, the servants were met with angered waves on their return and half of their precious cargo was lost. Knowing they could not repeat the journey, the servants substituted their losses with water from the shore. Lu Yu was shortly invited to return for a gathering around some freshly brewed tea.

Eager to impress his master, the host pressed for his critique. Considering it was uncourteous to criticise your host, it wasn’t after much persistence about his thoughts on the tea, that Lu Yu finally gave his response.
Without so much as a pause, the tea master could sense the water was not in fact from the tiger’s eye.


The purpose of this tale is to demonstrate how the purveyors of taste, reflected an incredible sensitivity towards how water and tea were bound.

In its simplest form, training the palette to taste water is in essence, training it to taste tea.
The same characteristics that govern a good cup of tea apply here.
Water from isolated pools is said to be preferred for its tranquil qualities, with the lighter water harbouring a stronger chi connection that would rise to the top.

Water should be considered not just for its taste but also for its weight and odour (or more importantly lack of). Minerals such as calcium or lime should be present, but not in great excess.

The majority of published works surrounding the subject reveal strikingly similar results;
varieties of tea were brewed with tap water, bottled mineral water, mountain spring water and filtered water.

It was concluded that the lower-mineral water released a finer flavor, with mountain spring water having the best overall results.


Rainwater that collects in reservoirs and has less than 60 mg of calcium (per liter) is referred to as soft water.

The taste and appearance of tea are greatly influenced by the density of Water.

Hard water

Hard water is pushed from bore holes and filtered through limestone and other rocks, accumulating calcium and minerals through its journey.

Hard water produces a darker, heavier tea, where soft water creates a lighter, brisker tea. As a result of the antioxidants present in softened water, researchers claim that tea tastes better, looks better, and may be healthier.


Catechins are the phenolic compounds abundant in green tea that compose its celebrated antioxidant properties.

The act of oxidizing the leaves changes catechins to other polyphenols, which gives black tea its burnt amber hue.
Green tea has roughly twice the antioxidant capacity of black tea.
Due to the potential health advantages of catechins, a lot of tea fabrication is more focused on their extraction rather than the flavor.

Final Word

To bring out the intended flavor of white and green teas, many tea experts advocate using gentler water than they would for oolong or black teas.

Lu Yu’s secret for the aiding the removal of off-flavours from water is simply the addition of a a pinch of salt, while other tea masters boil the water with special mineral rocks called ‘maifan stones’ or bamboo charcoal.

These procedures are frequently claimed to ‘purify’ the water, although they may be simply modifying the mineral content, and hence the tea flavor.

More from journal