After starting what was going to be an amazing collection of Water for Tea blog posts this year it came to a bit of an abrupt stop when my many projects collided. I am pleased to report that my interest and passion for this subject didn't end and I have been doing plenty of learning and experiments behind the scenes that culminated in bringing an educational event together to benefit my local tea community.
It became clear to me through your comments and engagement about water for tea that I wanted to first focus on looking at solutions for the specific issues we have here in Brisbane, Australia with water and tea making. The topic is complex and to provide any real value I have had to up skill myself (an ongoing learning process that crosses continents, industries and interests)! Thanks to some tea people that already have made some great strides in this space. In particular, a huge thanks to Peter Jones over in Boulder, Colarado who has kept me on the right track and also so generously shared his time and knowledge on this topic.
We talk a lot about water in the tea circles. But we don't talk about water like the craft beer brewers, the aquarists or coffee professionals. Understanding the science and chemical composition of water is a really important basis to enable you to assess the quality of your water for tea making. It is even more important for making decisions about what your next move or options are for improving the tea drinking experience. I believe we need to start thinking more like this as a tea industry to further advance and professionalise the industry.
So today I am very happy to return to my water for tea series to share more about a recent partnership formed with Dr. Monika Fekete of Coffee Sciences Lab who helped to create The Steepery Tea Co. Tea School's very first Water for Tea workshop. Dr Monika Fekete has carved out her own niche in Australia and is one of the leading professionals speaking and educating on this topic primarily focussed on the coffee industry who have their own specific needs and requirements when considering water.
I will share this over 2 posts. The first being a bit of a 'why' this event and the second sharing some of the results of the experiments and tastings we undertook during the workshop.
There is no doubt that specialty coffee trumps tea in Australia and particularly in the Brisbane market. So when you have an attendee list that includes both coffee professionals and some of Brisbane's most passionate tea practitioners it did make me wonder just how things would progress. The conversation and level of understanding around water design in the coffee profession is high. When it comes to tea I believe that we are building the knowledge right here, right now, so the understanding is in its infancy.
It is not so easy to directly transfer the knowledge about water for coffee to that of tea. Some applies and some does not. We can only build the knowledge through experiments and collaboration of which few exist in tea in a measurable, reliable and replicable way. We need to appreciate that tea people tend to prepare and brew most of their tea at home. What I did learn through the meeting of these two groups of passionate people is there are great opportunities for cross learning across both industries. And again the truth holds up that flavour geeks exist everywhere, in all industries, and we can all continue to learn and build on our sensory skills!
This was just a basic introduction to Water for Tea. It was the first steps of many more trials and experiments. The idea was to get a few more people interested in contributing and building our knowledge around water for tea with a view to create a good foundation understanding. So we still have some learnings in terms of the chemistry but we have to start somewhere. And taste is sometimes one of the best ways for it all to click together.
Any focus on water needs to include theory. And during the workshop we were taken through many basic water concepts by Dr. Monika Fekete. The attendees learnt about chemical composition, language and measurement used in water and how our drinking water in S.E. Queensland arrives to us. We looked at common filtration methods and also looked at a number of water beliefs and assumptions that are commonly shared as truth in the tea community e.g., kettle composition and double boiling water and it effects on tea. In some instances the attendees learnt that some of these claims were not scientifically supported.
While I firmly believe that it is still important for a person to enjoy and prepare tea as you like it. Let's just be careful when we share our own knowledge about water that we separate personal preferences from the science to be helpful to those coming to tea.
The attendees had a chance to learn basic water testing principles and the very exciting part - how to design your own water so that it will play nicely with the aroma and flavour of your tea! This concluded the theoretical component of the workshop and I will follow this up in next weeks blog with the results of the taste testing. We had the attendees blind taste a number of water sources for two different types of tea. The results are super interesting!
Finding venues to keep my Tea School events low cost is no easy feat and I have to do a big shout out to my sister who owns a beautiful contemporary bakes business ~ Bella & Tortie who allowed us to use her new digs and also catered some incredible 'snacks'! Thank you ❤️
I am by no means an expert, just sharing my journey and learnings to date. For other water for tea blog posts I have written, please take a look at these posts.