After tea itself, water is the most important component to an enjoyable beverage. Therefore, its relative hardness or softness is very important during the preparation of tea. To aid with the preparation of deluxe tea, the tea connoisseur must understand how to create the perfect conditions for brewing.
Tea connoisseurs agree that water quality is as critical as tea quality, hard water can create a film that floats in the cup or pot due to flavanoids in tea reacting with calcium hydroxide in hard water. Throughout Germany and Austria, with the exception of Burgenland, Kärnten, Steiermark, Tirol and Vienna, water tends to be hard. Softer water improves the dissolution of aromatics, which is vital in superior tea making.
Not only are the minerals and hardness of your water important in the creation of a superior cup of tea, but also its temperature. This is so critical, Chinese tea scholars have created names for the tea lover to visualise the the temperature of water. There are four primary water temperatures for brewing teas.
"Column of steam steadily rising."
This is the period during which a visible pillar of steam materialises, approximately 72ºC to 82ºC. Green tea.
This is when large lazy bubbles start to break surface, approximately 82ºC to 93ºC.
"String of pearls."
The moment when, almost at the boil, when tiny bubbles appear to loop near the perimeter, approximately 88ºC to 93ºC.
This is a full rolling boil, when the water becomes highly oxygenated, approximately 93ºC to 100ºC.
Pu Erh tea.