Truth Serum is a water recipe designed for tea analysis.
Note: This is a dry salt style recipe, an artificial format geared toward ease of use. This format has certain limitations in its ability to bring the best out of tea. Those who are interested in exploring the capabilities of a finely tuned, yet natural style water should try the new version.
My sincere thanks to Max, author of Tea Secrets, for his spectacular review of this water.
(Special thanks to Martin Lersch at Khymos for this incredibly useful tool.)
5x Concentrate – Do not drink!
- 3,785.4g distilled water – Try a variety of brands to find one that is free of plastic/metallic notes.
- 0.172g sodium chloride (table salt)
- 0.836g sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
- 0.386g magnesium chloride hexahydrate
- 0.077g magnesium sulfate heptahydrate (Epsom salt)
- 0.836g calcium sulfate dihydrate (gypsum)
Brewing water – Do drink!
- 757.1g concentrate
- 3,028.3g distilled water
Tools – Not optional.
- Milligram scale – For the minerals.
- Higher capacity scale – For the water.
- TDS Meter – For verification and troubleshooting. TDS meters usually underreport by roughly one-third, but at least it will tell you if you’ve made an order of magnitude error.
- Squeeze bulb – Useful in various ways throughout the entire process.
- Silica desiccant packets – Throw one of these in the bag of magnesium chloride hexahydrate, which tends to deliquesce fairly quickly.
- Consumer-grade milligram scales tend to have unpredictable and inconsistent behavior. Get to know your scale and work around its behavior. Try to load the minerals into the dish (included with the milligram scale) in larger amounts. Loading the minerals only a few milligrams at a time tends to “confuse” the scale. Even small errors will have significant impacts in practice, so be exact. To ensure that the mineral dosage is correct, weigh the dish by itself before adding minerals and write that number down. When it comes time to add the mineral, place the dish onto the scale and tare it. Add the mineral until you get the correct reading from the scale, then remove the dish and tare the scale again. Wait one minute for the pressure plate to return to its original position, then weigh the dish with the mineral in it again. The reading should be equal to the weight of the dish plus the target weight of the mineral. You will likely see an error upon following these steps, and that’s to be expected, just add or remove some mineral to get the correct reading. Take the time to be exact.
- Use the squeeze bulb to wash off any remaining mineral from the dish into the water. Some of these minerals tend to stick. Make sure that you’ve filled the squeeze bulb from the already-measured jug of 3785.4g distilled water, and empty any remaining water back into the mix when finished dosing the minerals.
- To avoid precipitation of minerals, wait several minutes after adding each mineral, shaking occasionally. If you notice any precipitate in the water, you’ll need to start over.
- Try aerating the water by pouring it into your kettle from a height before boiling it. This enhances the texture by reducing astringency and adding “vertical volume”. It also affects the flavor profile by reducing intensity. It is best to try the water with and without aeration to become familiar with the effect, and please remember that aeration is a spectrum. You may prefer a different level of aeration than I do. I prefer a small amount of aeration for most of my tea.
- Store your concentrate in the fridge.
- Most teapots do not pour quickly enough for use with this water. Also, the recipe is fairly sensitive to clay, often resulting in overly-muted tea. For those reasons, please brew in a gaiwan for best results.
- This post will be updated from time to time to adjust the recipe and/or include new information.