Oftentimes when making tea and even talking about it we forget about a most important part. No matter the tea, tisane, or infusion, there is one common element...water! It is important when you make your tea you use the best water possible for the water will impact the taste of the tea. Some say the best water is water taken from the place where the tea was grown. Not quite practical for me here in WNY. I can't pop by the Fujian province in China every time I want a cup of my Lapsang Souchong! Purified or Spring water is said to be best. If you use tap water, run it through a Brita or other filtering system first.
To illustrate the importance of water I'd like to share a story my friend Niraj told me. Lu Yu is considered the Sage of Tea, a prominent and respected expert who lived in the 8th century Tang Dynasty. Lu Yu wrote the first book about tea entitled Cha Jing; The Classic of Tea in English. One day Lu Yu was traveling and told the soldiers with him to gather water from the middle of the river so that he could make some tea. They returned and Lu Yu took a taste of the water they brought and said, "No. I told you to get it from the middle of the river." The soldiers insisted that they had done just that. Lu Yu took another sip and again said, "No this water is from the bank of the river." Everyone could tell his displeasure and tensions ran high, the soldiers swearing they rowed out to the middle of the water. Lu Yu then emptied half of the water and took another drink. "Ahh," he smiled, "Now this water is from the middle of the river!" The soldiers then admitted what had happened. They had indeed rowed to the middle of the river and filled the jug with water. As they were getting out of the boat after returning, however, they accidentally spilled half of the water. Instead of going back out to the middle, they merely filled the rest of the pitcher with water from the riverbank.
The next time you prepare your tea, consider your water. Did you get it from the middle of the river?