"IT PAYS TO BUY GOOD TEA" - It's a phrase that adorns many a vintage wooden tea chest, but it doesn't come without caveats.
Today we talk one condition in particular: the need to prepare your tea in equally good water, which effectively comprises 99% of your brew!
Debonair Tea HQ is situated in what we could definitely claim to be the hard water capital of the UK. The White Cliffs of Dover are pretty close neighbours and, given that hard water is formed when it percolates through deposits of limestone and chalk, you can imagine just how hard our water is.
We recently conducted a taste testing at a local food business and couldn't work out why our tea did not taste up to scratch. We had convinced ourselves that the water must be filtered as the establishment in question had a beautiful coffee machine and water boiler that couldn't possibly be fed standard mains water - WRONG! The coffee machine was plumbed into the filtration system but the poor (rather fancy) boiler had not and this is where the water was being drawn from.
It's not just water hardness that undermines the flavour of good tea. Beyond limescale, tap water can contain other nasties such as dissolved heavy metals, dust, rust and sand particles as well as pesticides and hormones from agriculture - mmm yummy!
If teas are heavily flavoured (normally to mask lower quality ingredients) then the flavourings can normally do a good job of masking bad water too. However, natural flavours from tea leaves, herbs and spices need a little more TLC.
This is why we advocate and only use filtered water when preparing our teas. Water filters aren't the expensive investment they used to be and we believe that if you are prepared to invest in good quality tea then you want to enjoy it at the very highest standards - a pH of around 6.8 is optimum.
In addition, the old adage that you should use fresh water for every brew is also key; water that has previously boiled and then sat in a kettle will have lost a lot of oxygen and the flavour will again be compromised.
So the moral of the story is - unless you are set up to prepare your tea in good water, then, sadly, it does not pay to buy good tea - including ours!