Guest Posting: Kombucha 101 – Water, by Tadeusz Zagrabinski
In this Kombucha 101 series, Tadeusz writes about the importance of all individual ingredients that are traditionally used to make kombucha. The first part discussed tea. The second part described the varieties of sweeteners. In this third part he discusses water.
One of the five elements of Nature.
Essential for life.
A huge component of our biological body.
Yet, quite often neglected or even misunderstood.
Without water, there would be no tea. Without tea, there would be no kombucha. At least not the traditional one.
During our kombucha Workshops, we always ask this particular question: “Which out of these four ingredients is the most important? Tea, sugar, water, or the culture?”
And before anybody can give us an answer, we also point out that all of them are very important.
Water gets rarely picked, but it’s OK, as that gives us a reason to explain how crucial water is for great tasting tea and, as a consequence, for great tasting kombucha.
And not just any water. The right kind of water.
In China, water is called the Mother of Tea. This definitely describes how important water is in tea making. The right type of water will bring the best out of tea. The wrong type of water will ruin the same tea.
Great tea makes great kombucha, so for us, tea is the Mother of Kombucha.
So which water is the best for tea? In China, the best water was considered to be the one that can be found closest to the tea bushes.
Obviously, that creates a problem for those who do not own a tea plantation. But there are some other good choices that one can use.
“Lo Yu, a scholar from China who lived in the eighth century, wrote the first encyclopedia of tea entitled Ch’a Ching, long considered the ultimate reference on tea. He said the highest quality water comes from slow-moving mountain water. (In fact, he specified ten different springs in China ideal for this purpose.) His next choice in water quality was river water, preferably from the middle of the river; and finally well water.
According to Lo Yu, the lowest quality water for tea comes from lakes and deep underground wells.” (for more, see here)
But that was in the eighth century and a lot has changed from that time. Now the water quality is far worse than that.
If you ever had a chance of drinking a true spring water, you will remember that occasion. Especially if it was a high mountain spring. When you drink that water, you just don’t want to stop. This is how good that water is. It is pure, well-oxygenated and it’s living. It is something that your body was craving for a long time, but was unable to get from the sources that you have around.
So, those who have access to spring water are very fortunate. So are the ones that have access to good deep well water. Unfortunately, the vast majority of us have only access to city water or bottled water.
Bottled water might on the surface seem like a better choice than tap water.
Yes, for making a good cup of tea, you can probably find naturally soft, not-carbonated water that does not contain too many minerals. And when that water is in a glass bottle, you might even have a winner.
You can even make a small batch of kombucha at home, by using few of those bottles.
This is all good. Unfortunately, if you want to make a lot more kombucha, this bottled water will turn out to be expensive and impractical.
Sure, there are bigger plastic bottles or jugs (2L or 1 gallon) that one can use. In a long run though, this water will cost more than a good filtration system.
Water packed in plastic bottles might be slightly cheaper but unfortunately that comes with additional problems. And those will include chemical leaching and plastic particles.
“More than 24,500 chemicals found in bottled water”, this came from a 2015 study by German researchers.
But it’s not only chemicals like the hormone-disrupting BPA. Water out of plastic bottles contains micro-plastics.
“Tests on major brands of bottled water have found that nearly all of them contained tiny particles of plastic.” for more, click here.
Bottled water is also quite often dead water. Just keep in mind that some of it could have been sitting in those plastic bottles for more than a year. Sometimes even longer.
And when it was improperly stored, the chemical leaching was definitely increased.
Another problem with bottled water is the fact that a lot of it is acidic, instead of being neutral and some of it might be even worse than some city tap water, as bottled water is usually less regulated.
It also turns out that some of the so called “Spring” bottled water does not even have to come from a real spring (see here). But that’s another story.
So yes, bottled water can be a temporary solution, but it’s an expensive one and bottled water quality might not necessarily be superior to that of the tap water.
City tap water will obviously vary from city to city. In some smaller towns that have access to nearby water reservoirs, that quality will be better.
In bigger towns, that quality will usually be worse.
So what to keep an eye for when one only has access to a lower quality water?
Definitely the pH level, as water should be neutral and neutral water makes the best cup of tea.
Both, alkaline and acidic waters usually make a tea that is inferior in flavor.
Next is the chemical and mineral content.
Chemicals play a crucial role in the “hardness” and “softness” of water.
Hard water will contain more chemicals and it is inferior to soft water in tea making.
There’s also a big difference between water that is naturally soft and water that was softened by the use of sodium chloride.
Chemicals, like chlorine, fluoride, sodium chloride and other affect the flavor of water. This will have the same affect on the flavor of tea. The same will happen when water has a high mineral content, like high sodium or high magnesium.
Those waters might be considered healthy, but they are not optimal for tea making.
Water freshness is also very important. Water that has been sitting for a long time is not optimal. Water that has been previously boiled should not be re-heated and used. Water also should not be boiled for a long period of time.
Such water is depleted of oxygen (the O in H2O) and is actually considered to be toxic.
It will never make a good tea.
Here’s a similar summary of water qualities to keep an eye on:
“If you live in a city or in an area where air pollution makes Tian Shui unusable, qualities to consider when sourcing are:
- Alive (huó; 活). Running, full of energy. Aliveness is the most important aspect of. Water that’s alive is free of odor.
- Clear (pinyin needed; 清). Fresh and clear. Clearness comes second. No dust or residuals should be present.
- Light (Qīng; 轻). Lightness shows particulate/dissolved solid density.
- Sweet (Gān; 甘). Naturally sweet.
- Cold（Liè; 冽). The temperature should be low. Cold or freezing is better. Water from snow, for example.”
This and much more, you can find at Shiftingsenses.com.
Since the vast majority of our kombucha is strictly tea-based and the main “flavor” of our kombucha comes from single different teas, we look at water exactly the same way, as the Chinese or Taiwanese tea master would.
Like a vast majority of people, we do not have access to spring water. We have city water to work with and we have to make this water to be the most suitable for our needs.
Berlin’s city water is hard. Obviously such a water is bad for tea and needless to say, it is bad for kombucha.
In such a case, good filtration system is a must.
Tap filters or over counter filters (like Britta) are not enough to deal with water like that.
Still, they are a better solution than regular tap water.
There are water filtration systems that can do a descent job with making water more suitable for consumption.
Seven years ago, we have started with a Reverse Osmosis system.
Even though, there might be some benefits to this system of filtration, RO systems are usually slow and quite wasteful.
Another problem is that they remove almost all minerals from water and even though you can buy a mineral cartridge that will put some of those minerals back, it is not the same.
One of the biggest drawbacks that we found is: Reverse Osmosis makes the filtered water slightly acidic. And that affects the final flavor of the tea.
The optimal filtration system for us is Carbon Filtration. Here, most of the unwanted substances get filtered out, but not the minerals.
Obviously, there might be some other good filtration systems out there, but we do not have any experience with them.
But filtration is only the beginning for us. That golden gadget right in front, helps restructure the already filtered water that goes through it. And that is achieved through the swirling motion, in which the water structure gets revitalized and in the end it resembles the water structure of a spring water.
Filtration and revitalization are great. But we do not stop there.
Water can be further “enhanced” by other means. We use a few of them to make our water taste even better.
We use glass brewing jars to brew single, small batches of our kombucha. Each of those glass jars has the flower of life symbol on it.
The flower of life is another sacred geometric form. It is the symbol of creation. It also creates balance.
And there’s a lot of creation going on in those jars and balance is definitely very welcome.
In addition to the flower of life, all of our water that goes into kombucha gets a gentle vibrational treatment of rose quartz crystals.
Rose quartz crystals carry a lot of different properties. From physical ones: “Helps improve circulation and boosts heart health”, through mental and emotional: “Helps heal emotional wounds”, “Invites more compassion and care”.
“The other name for which Rose Quartz is known is as The Heart Stone. As mentioned, Rose Quartz is intricately connected to the heart chakra, and this crystal is often used in helping the heart heal from the pain or trauma left from deep emotional wounds. Rose Quartz is also used as a calling card for those who crave more love in their lives. This doesn’t always need to take the form of romantic love, but more in finding a deep sense of compassion and care in this world – especially if it comes from one of the most important sources who can bring it – oneself.”
There’s still more that can be found here.
We love those rose quartz crystals, but other gemstones can also be used.
And not only gemstones.
Shungite is a natural carbon containing material that is excellent for water purification.
It does an excellent job of purifying water.
But there’s more.
Water is also affected by emotions, sounds and other vibrations.
We are very aware of the wonderful work of Dr. Masaru Emoto and we take it seriously.
“The extraordinary life work of Dr. Emoto is documented in the New York Times Bestseller, The Hidden Messages in Water. In his book, Dr. Emoto demonstrates how water exposed to loving, benevolent, and compassionate human intention results in aesthetically pleasing physical molecular formations in the water while water exposed to fearful and discordant human intentions results in disconnected, disfigured, and “unpleasant” physical molecular formations. He did this through Magnetic Resonance Analysis technology and high-speed photographs.
See the following water crystal photographs from Dr. Emoto’s work. Each water crystal you see was exposed to the word it has written next to it prior to being photographed:”
“His research also showed us how polluted and toxic water, when exposed to prayer and intention can be altered and restored to beautifully formed geometric crystals found in clean, healthy water. The following photos are images of the water in the Fujiwara Dam before and after the Reverend Kato Hoki, chief priest of Jyuhouin Temple, offered an hour-long prayer over it.”
“Dr. Emoto also studied how sound affects water. The Emoto music studies demonstrate how certain types of sound, like classical music, generate beautiful crystalline patterns, while heavy metal music, generate ugly and distorted crystalline formations. In the images below you see the crystalline formation resulting from water being exposed to Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 and then in contrast what the water crystal image looks like after listening to heavy metal music.”
Good vibrational music is an integral part of our brewing room. We know how it can affect water. And kombucha is basically tea water.
We have also made few experiments with water.
In one of them, we compared the same water that we divided into four different bottles.
In the first bottle water was only filtered. In the second it was filtered and revitalized.
In the third bottle water was filtered and then two times revitalized. Finally, the fourth and filth bottle had water that was filtered, twice revitalized and additionally imbued with intentions (by two different people).
Next came the blind tastings. A big portion of people could not taste a difference past the second and the third bottle. Some people though, including us, could taste the difference in water imbued with intentions. Two different people imbued two different intentions and the water from those two bottles tasted significantly different. One tasted so much better than the other one.
Emotions are vibrations and they affect the world around us.
How emotions affect living beings (plants in this case) was also demonstrated by an experiment which was done by IKEA.
This experiment involved two identical plants. One of them was being bullied and the second one was complimented at the same time for a period of 30 days. Below you can see the results.
It is quite obvious which one was bullied and which one was complimented.
To find out more about it, please check here.
Kombucha is also a living organism. It is full of bacteria and yeasts.
It’ll also be affected by how you treat it, what kind of music you play, your emotions and by many other factors like stress, sorrow, anger, greed, lack of harmony, etc.
So if you really want to make the best kombucha that you can make, put all your heart into it.
But do it for real. Don’t just write on the label that it was “made with love”, when actually it was only a routine and you made it because you had to.
Think about a great example of a mother cooking a meal for her child, putting all the energy, all attention and all the love into it.
This child will remember that meal for the rest of his/her life.
The same might happen with the kombucha. All good energy, all the attention and all the love will transform the water that you are using into even more delicious kombucha than you can imagine.
The power is within you.
SCOBY/Kombucha culture will be next!
This article is from Tadeusz’s Bärbucha Kombucha blog and appears here with his express permission.