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The taste of water

20 September 2013

at 12:33 by Seb

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All drinkers of tea one day come to consider the choice of water used to prepare tea. And since about 98% of what is found in the cup is water, it is better to choose it for its taste. Many masters and scholars of tea have considered with great interest the quality of water to be used, depending on its origin (mountain, spring, rain, river, etc..) in order to obtain the best tea possible. Though our modern urban realities offer us sanitized water, accessible and rather neutral, what is the quality of its taste?

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Here is a simple experiment to learn the differences in the taste of some waters close at hand and their effect on tea. Choose 3 or 4 depending on their availability, e.g. tap water, filtered tap water (Brita or other), glacial water (bottled), mineral water (Eska, Evian, …).
First perform a tasting of the waters being attentive to their differences in textures (+/- silky, oily), flavors (+/- salty, mineral) and aromas (chlorine, sulphur, metallic etc).

Then, heat the waters and prepare a tea with each of them keeping to the same parameters (quantity of tea by volume, water temperature and infusion time) for each infusion. Then all that remains is to taste and note the effects on the liquor by observing the differences of vitality, of body, texture, …

Do you prefer water with high/low mineral content? Does your favourite water give the best brew? Are the differences subtle or obvious? Repeat with another tea to see whether or not the same nuances are there! Share your observations with us.

China in midsummer!

4 September 2013

at 11:20 by Seb

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Since 2003, my travels in China have been mainly in the spring during the tea harvest. Over the years, the scenes of China in the spring have become familiar to me. There are fields of brilliant yellow canola flowers, the magnolia flowers on bare branches, and naturally, all the new tea shoots giving a beautiful tender green to the tea gardens. In the latter, a horde of pluckers are busy harvesting while in the factories tea transformation is in progress. I have also visited China later in the year for the fall harvest, but I had never set foot there in the heart of summer.

IMG_5066So it was with a fresh excitement that I flew to Shanghai on July 24 at the request of a film crew from Radio-Canada’s ‘La Semaine Verte’. My mandate for this trip was not buying but to introduce to this dynamic film team (and soon you!) the China and tea scene of my many years working there. We visited the province of Zhejiang and Yunnan to meet several tea producers, scientists, a potter, in addition to visiting tea houses and Chinese tea markets. It was for me and the producers a very different context of meeting to our spring meetings. In the spring, we run through comparative tastings, discuss climate and transformation, negotiate purchases and arrange transport, while in summer, with no harvest in the gardens and nothing to buy, we had only to talk and drink tea together!

We were made completely welcome by the Tang family, producer of our Long Jing Shi Feng in their beautiful home, by scientists from the Tea Research Institute, by Mr. He who  produces Huiming who treated us to the superb food in Jingning, by Mr. Yen and the great art of his celadon, by Ms. Wang, with her wonderful humour and great Pu Er and by Mr. Chan, specialist in the ageing of Pu Er, with his infectious laugh.

Jasmin

 
 

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