Best Tea Water In the Greater Seattle Area
Seattle is home to some of the cleanest tap water; it is rated to be among the best municipal water in the country. However, the water is treated with chlorine and other chemicals, and this has a noticeable effect on the taste of the water. Even with Seattle’s tap water as clean as it is, it’s almost entirely unsuitable to make a good cup of tea.
Yet, with a 30 minute drive North to Lynnwood, there is an amazing spring, putting out a total of 10 gallons of ice cold, crystal clear, natural artesian well water every minute! The well itself is 400 feet deep, and stops 120 feet below ground. The city drilled about 200 feet down to access this natural well, and frequent tests are performed on the water to ensure its consistent quality.
Directions: Right off I-5 S. exit 183, go left on 164th, then to the bottom of the hill and you will see a small turnoff with a 5 car parking lot.
Early this morning I had the privilege of accompanying a biochemist from the University of Washington to Lynnwood Springs. We picked one of the worst days of the month to go, with 2” of rain and 25 mph winds predicted, but as two tea lovers on a quest for the perfect cup, we braved the elements and went to the springs.
On the way, I asked my biochemist friend which type of water—distilled, purified, spring or artesian— he thought was best for making tea. He explained that water’s structure and the way minerals and salts are dispersed throughout it, may play a roll in how it tastes, and assumed that a higher mineral content gives the water a fuller, more rounded taste.
My curiosity was piqued by this assumption, so I decided to do a bit of research on different types of water, and explain what I found.
Visiting the Lynnwood Spring at 5:30am to avoid waiting in line.
A brief overlook of the different waters:
Purified Water: Water from any source that has been physically treated to remove impurities. This could include water that has been distilled, or that has undergone reverse osmosis, carbon filtration (like a Brita or Pur filter), ultraviolet oxidation and so on. The method of purification used determines how free of minerals or bacteria the water is, and quality can vary among different purified waters.
Distilled Water: Water that has been vaporized into steam, then cooled and re-condensed back into liquid form. Most of the water’s mineral content is lost in this process, since the ionized minerals do not rise with the steam. This process removes almost all of the water’s inherent ‘flavor,’ and should generally be avoided for making tea when possible, although depending on where you live, it may be better than plain tap water.
Filtered Water: Water that has been carbon filtered, or run through a porous substance (like carbon from charcoal) that uptakes the majority of the foreign elements in the water. Products like a Brita or Purfilter do a very good job at getting out most of the impurities, but is not 100% effective all of the time. This is common for tea drinking purposes, provided that the filter is fresh, but is also not ideal.
Spring Water: Water derived from an underground formation, from which water flows naturally to the surface of the earth. This water can have a range of mineral compositions depending on where the water surfaces and what kind of soil or rock the water flowed through. Spring water is ideal for making tea, although some springs yield water that contains too many minerals and would destroy the flavor of the brew. Spring water can also be purchased grocery stores, and starts at about a dollar per gallon. Where possible, like I did, you can find a spring near you and get your water directly from the source!
Artesian Water: Water usually found deeper than spring water, coming from a well that taps into a confined aquifer, which is a water-bearing underground layer of rock or sand. Here, the water level stands at some height above the top of the aquifer. This is not to be confused with “artisan water” which is water that’s manufactured to have a desired flavor profile. Artesian water is also ideal for brewing tea, as it contains naturally occurring mineral compositions, is very clean, and has a full, round flavor.
In the end, purified water, whether it be distilled or otherwise, filtered water, or tap water are not ideal, but a water filter does work for everyday use. The high levels of chlorine and other cleaning agents found in these types of water can destroy the taste of the tea and hide the nuances of each steep. Spring water and artesian well water are the top choice for bringing your favorite tea to life. Each spring has its own unique profile, so experiment with whatever you can get your hands on. And, if you can’t make it to a natural spring, QFC and Wholefoods’s bottled spring water is the best I’ve found at a store (and it’s a whole lot easier to get!). As a rule of thumb, the fancier the tea, the fancier the water! There is no sense ruining a premium tea with bad water, and if you’re going to drink a premium tea, it’s best to experience it at its fullest—you wont be disappointed!
For those who do not live in the greater Seattle area, you can search for a natural spring near you at http://www.findaspring.com/