Archive for January, 2011

Hardness 2

Hard water no work for tea.

Let’s check in with some earlier hypotheses about water hardness.

  • hardness is a specific measure of minerality (TDS) for limited, “industrial” purposes

I still wholeheartedly agree. I might rephrase and say “hardness is a measure of a specific subset of minerality…” etc.  But I realized something else about the use of “hardness” to describe water taste.  Here’s a definition from the Water Quality Association:

“Hard water is water that contains an appreciable quantity of dissolved minerals (like calcium and magnesium).
Soft water is treated water in which the only ion is sodium.”

This is one of many muddled definitions I’ve seen where hardness is erroneously used to describe minerality.  Let’s reiterate: hardness is a measure of multivalent cations, like calcium and magnesium.  There are many minerals that can be dissolved in water that don’t make water hard, like sodium.  There’s no such thing as “soft water”; there’s only water that’s been made less hard, or “softened,” by substituting something like sodium for magnesium or calcium.   And the WQA is a trade association that represents companies that sell things like “water softeners.”  Water softeners will cut down on scale in your pipes and appliances, but they won’t necessarily make your tea water taste better.
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What are trees for?

Does that look shady to you?

Hoping to find some information that’s generalizable to the production of tea, I’ve been sporadically reading “The Geography of Wine: How Landscapes, Cultures, Terroir, and the Weather Make a Good Drop.” The author, Brian J. Sommers, has taught a geography of wine course at Central Connecticut University for many years.  I lose patience reading it, as I’m transported to a college lecture hall where the professor talks overlong, desperately grasping at metaphors, trying to hold the attention of jocks and communications majors forced to take a science class.  Also, using the concept of “geography” to envelop such disparate disciplines as soil science and political culture without seeming arbitrary and disorganized takes some boldness that I haven’t seen in this book so far.

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