Semi aged puerh tea makes up the largest portion of tea that I drink in a given year. Therefore it is my prerogative to be on the lookout for good sources of water that pairs well with this category of tea. Furthermore good tea leaves from old trees in Ban Zhang are expensive and have become hard to obtain. It is for these reasons that I am willing to spend more and make the extra effort to obtain good water that can elevate my enjoyment and appreciation for the special teas in my collection.
Brewing the same tea with 4 different sources of water is a great way to experience the spectrum of characteristics the tea has to offer not to mention identifying the best pairing of tea and water. Each source of water produces a different shade of an outcome that emphasizes different characteristics in the tea. The Icelandic spring produced the most alluring mouth feel, giving the body of the tea a syrupy thickness. Notable was the smooth and rounded characters that opened up to a pleasing sweetness, altogether showing good depth and structure. Fuji water emphasized an aromatic and sweet nose that presented a merge of dark mushrooms, wood, forest and herbs in a background of a sweet darkening mass of gushu tea leaves. The brew however felt tight and the taste was muted making the sensations in the mouth the least agreeable of the 4 comparatively. The Australian spring enhanced the higher notes, allowing for more nuances and clarity in the characteristics of the tea. The brew showed good length in the finish accompanied by a stronger astringency that highlights the muscular presence in the tea. The Scottish spring provided the most balanced brew that combined the different facets of aroma, taste, mouth feel and finish. I felt the Cha Qi in all the brews and this was especially focused in the area of the chest, subsequently spreading to the different parts of the body. Overall my preference was for the Icelandic spring. The charm of this semi age Ban Zhang rests in its low and heavy characteristics and it was the Icelandic spring that brought this out best.
Return to Part 1 of the water test
May the best performing bottle of water … please stand!