Matcha and Water


pouring matcha in eggshell cup


Oddly, I haven’t given much thought to the role that water plays in maximal enjoyment of matcha. I’ve written about matcha and water temperature before, but not much about water itself, and what kind of water we drink on a daily basis.


I feel fortunate to live and work in Marin County, CA, with its supply of lovely rain runoff from the slopes of Mount Tamalpais. Marin is host to California’s very first municipal water district (the mighty MMWD, Marin Municipal Water District); we’ve been thinking about quality water and water management for a long time.


Nearly 75% of MMWD’s water comes from more than 20,000 acres of protected watershed on Mt. Tam, in the grassy hills of gorgeous west Marin, into seven large reservoirs (which are themselves lovely places to visit and hike around). These areas are mostly forested MMWD-owned lands and other undeveloped rural lands. Water from these reservoirs is treated and filtered before delivery into my and my neighbors’ homes.


And yet: despite having some of the cleanest, most carefully tended water in the country–and Marin being Marin–many of us still filter our water. In fact the Brita-type carbon filter (which my family personally uses) doesn’t do much except remove some of the chlorine in the water, which can also be achieved by simply filling up pitchers of water and letting them sit out (all chlorine in the water will, apparently, evaporate in about 24 hours). Could it be placebo, that I just think filtered tastes better, therefore it actually does?


In blind water tastings –some of you will recall that I’ve never met a blind tasting, of any substance, I didn’t like — I show a clear preference for filtered. It tastes somehow “softer” and easier to drink. Tastier. It might take a few hundred double-blind tastings to really determine a preference, but does anyone on earth in 2014 actually have time for this kind of thing? I’m going with my preference for filtered, biased or not.


So it was with some trepidation that I tasted some “ionized” water recently at a matcha tasting event we did at Yogaworks. They had a trippy-looking ionizing machine by AlkaViva that filtered and ionized the water to some insane degree. Color me skeptical!


But it did taste pretty damn good. I did a quick blind test using water from the fancy machine and from the filtered tap. There was no comparison, it actually tasted better from the machine. “Better” meaning no hints of metal or gas. Just some incredibly pure substance that my body wanted more of.


So of course I wanted to taste some matcha made with this water. Whipped up two bottles of Coldbrew to taste blind as well, one with water made from the machine and one from the filtered tap. Again, no comparison. I didn’t think it was possible for Coldbrew to taste any better, but it did.


Does that mean I’m going to rush out and buy a $2,000+ machine to give me the cleanest possible water?  No, of course not. But it did get me thinking: how much is all that extra pleasure worth? How much is the knowledge that I’m drinking heavy-metal-free water worth? Does the placebo effect kick in? Will I drink more matcha if it tastes so much better with better water? Should my daughter be drinking purer water, and if so, how much is that worth?


I don’t know the answers to any of those questions. Would love to hear from you if you do!


Matcha, Productivity, and L-Theanine


Most of us agree that we feel awfully good after drinking a thick cup of matcha. Part of the reason behind feeling good is surely a placebo effect: you have this creamy, electric-green drink made of 100 percent baby green tea leaves and nothing else. It looks delicious and tastes even better. We just know on some primitive level that something that green has got to be good. So I do believe we are almost predisposed to feeling good after drinking it, even if science was on the fence about its health properties.

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