Tap Water vs Bottled Water in the Brewing Process of Green and Black Teas
Brewed green and black teas have long been renowned for their extensive health benefits, and for good reason. Green and black tea are a rich source of antioxidants, and they both hold an important place in homeopathic and traditional medicine practices. But does the brewing process used by the consumer have an effect on these health benefits? To answer this question, we must examine the primary ingredient in the tea making process: water.
When consumers brew tea at home, they make a conscious decision between bottled, home-filtered, or tap water for the base of their tea. Often times, the difference among these three ingredients is regarded as a simple matter of personal taste and ultimately, written off as a highly subjective point. Yet, recent studies suggest that a consumer’s choice between filtered and tap water has consequences, not only for their palate, but also their health.
According to Robin Dando, associate professor of food science at Cornell University, “Bottled water – where calcium or magnesium has been filtered out and where the iron concentration is brought down a notch – is able to extract the EGCG more efficiently. With purer water, you get more health benefits out of the tea” (Friedlander 2019). The presence of these naturally occurring minerals in tap water has a negative effect on the production of the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG. This is an issue that can only be rectified by using a water filter to reduce the presence of these minerals and minimize the loss of critical nutrients, like EGCG.
Using filtered water
Brewing tea with filtered water, on the other hand, was shown to double levels of EGCG in green tea. EGCG is a natural antioxidant, called a catechin, a substance that “can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells and molecules from damage” (Gunnars 2018). By disrupting the production of free radicals, EGCG in turn has an effect on the process of aging in cells, as well as on various diseases. Further, ongoing research suggests a positive link between EGCG intake and reduction of cholesterol levels.
A matter of taste…
While many debaters in the tea drinking community might argue that tea brewed with tap water simply “tastes better”, this point might not be as important or as contentious as it seems. Researchers participating in the same study as Dando noted that the matter of taste difference between green tea brewed with filtered and unfiltered water was so minimal that among a panel of over 100 consumers, participants found that there was no discernible difference (Friedlander 2019).
Melanie Franks, the study’s lead author and tea specialist, indicates as much, “The average consumer for black tea isn’t able to tell the difference. Whether it was tap water or bottled water, the taste differences are too subtle” (Friedlander 2019). For all but the most seasoned of palates, then, the difference between tea brewed with tap and filtered water is essentially a non-issue. More importantly, however, the health risks associated with drinking tea brewed with tap water far outweigh any potential flavor benefits.
Tap water contamination
In addition to the concerns flagged by the research team at Cornell, it is important to note the presence of dangerous chemicals in tap water that are not present in filtered water.
Even in first world countries like the United States, tap water contamination is a pervasive public health issue. Drinking water sources are often exposed to contaminants like viruses and bacteria through mismanagement of drinking water sources and inadequate sanitation processes. This risk only increases with regard to more densely populated, urban environments. A recent study found that nearly 77 million Americans lived in places where the water systems were in violation of safety regulations. As a result, it is fairly risky to drink from any tap water source without undertaking proper filtration processes beforehand.
The choice, then, comes down to home filtered or bottled water. Not only is a home filtration system more practical, economical, and more environmentally friendly than bottled water, it is also safer.
A common assumption- and unfortunately, an incorrect one- is that bottled water is just as safe as filtered water. Much of the bottled water on the market contains just as many contaminants as tap water, and in many cases, is indeed tap water masquerading as filtered water in a ploy to make money off of unknowing consumers.
The uncertainty surrounding the integrity of bottled water products means that you are better off both in terms of personal health and finances investing in a whole house water filtration system, which guarantees that your drinking water will be safe.
In conclusion, brewing tea with filtered water stands to enhance health benefits in green and black tea and eliminate the risk of ingesting harmful contaminants in tap water- all while preserving the pristine flavor of great tea. To truly get the most out of your tea drinking experience, it is essential to purchase a reliable home water filtration system.