I made some tea for class the other day, a Shuixian and an aged oolong. I was trying to explain how Chinese have basically “invented” this new style of tea making that really has little historical basis, but is now widely viewed as “traditional Chinese tea ceremony” when nothing can be further from the truth. What struck me though during the brewing is how different the tea tastes. The Shuixian was subdued, without much of its natural aroma, while the aged oolong came out a bit bitter, rough, and not sweet at all like I know it to be. I used all my regular equipment. What’s wrong?
Specifically, the chlorine in the water. Bringing a water filter to class and then waiting for it to filter through is really not an option, so tap water, instead, has to be used. Maine tap water, for some reason, is really, really chlorinated. When I turn on the tap here I can smell the chlorine. When I boil it unfiltered, I can also smell the chlorine. In fact, when I opened my tetsubin after that class, I could smell it in my tetsubin. Disgusting.
School’s only two minutes away from where I live, so I am pretty certain we get the same water supply. There’s no other vairable involved. It has to be the chlorine (and whatever else is in the water, but most likely just that). If you ever need proof that filtered water is necessary for a good cup of tea, this is probably it. Bottled water, on the other hand, is a completely separate discussion.