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Water Guide

There is a lot of confusion about bottled water. In the simplest terms, bottled water can be any water in a bottle (plastic or glass). This can include rain water, glacial or iceberg water, natural spring water, filtered water, distilled water, purified municipal supply water and in come cases even tap water. As a water store, we only sell fine bottled mineral and spring waters (and iceberg water) from reputable and accredited sources. So what is a mineral water? Below we illustrate concepts and elaborate the differences:

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Mineral Water

The strictest guidelines for mineral waters are found in Europe, dictated by 'Directive 777' of the European Union, issued in 1980, which sets out criteria for the legal definition of mineral waters. Generally, a mineral water must contain total dissolved solids (TDS) greater than 500 mg/L. In the US and Australasia this figure is 250 mg/L.

In addition to its mineral content, the European criteria includes the water be bottled at source, without any treatment, except filtration to remove iron and sulphur. It should not be pasteurized, ozonated or subjected to ultraviolet light to render it sterile, but bottled under conditions of 'most stringent hygeine'.

Bottled water in Australia and New Zealand is regulated as a packaged food product by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ). FSANZ bottled water standards are law and not just guidelines. Bottled water is also subject to food law and labeling requirements.

Australian Bottled Water Institute (ABWI) members are also expected to adhere to ABWI standards, in most cases more stringent than FSANZ regulations. ABWI itself is affiliated to the International Council of Bottled Water Associations (ICBWA). Most reputable suppliers are members of one of six regional associations affiliated to the ICBWA.

 

Spring Water

Spring water, by the strict European definition, conforms to all criteria set down for mineral water but contains less than 500 mg/L total dissolved solids. In the US and Australasia this figure is 250 mg/L.

 

Glass Bottles

There are distintive advantages for quality beverages being bottled in Glass rather than plastic or PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)Consumers generally agree that waters bottled in glass tend to have more impact, especially from an epicurean perspective.  However, especially for carbonated waters, glass is often the preferred option. We recommend glass because:

  • Glass retains purity of taste/freshness
  • Glass will never absorb residual taste or odors compared to plastic
  • Glass does not leach harmful chemicals into the water, BPA Free
  • Glass bottles are made from naturally abundant materials and more eco-friendly than plastic
  • Glass can be reused and will never break down on a molecular level

 

Mineral Composition

Elements most commonly occuring in mineral waters include:

  • Bicarbonates
  • Calcium
  • Chloride
  • Fluoride
  • Magnesium
  • Nitrate
  • Potassium
  • Silica
  • Sodium
  • Sulphates

 

Bicarbonates

Bicarbonate, or hydrogencarbonate (HCO3), stimulates digestion and helps to maintain acid balance in the stomach. It is also found in the blood and is essential for maintaining homeostasis.

 

Calcium

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, and is essential for strong bones and teeth and for the maintenance of healthy gums. It is also important for muscle contraction, nerve activity, beating of the heart, hormone release, blood clotting, energy production and proper immune system function. Requirements are greatest during periods of growth, such as childhood, during pregnancy and when breast-feeding.

 

Choride

Chloride (not to be confused with Chlorine) occurs naturally in the body as a chloride compound with either sodium or potassium. Our dietary supply of chloride is largely in the form of sodium chloride (NaCl), commonly known as salt. Chloride stimulates the production of hydrochloric acid required for good digestion, helps the liver to metabolise wastes, and regulates the body’s acid-alkaline and fluid balance.

 

Floride

Fluorine is present in minute amounts in nearly every human tissue, but primarily in the teeth and bones. There are two types:

 

Sodium fluoride

Soldium flouride which is commonly added to municipal drinking water, increases the density of bone but also the brittleness. The sodium fluoride added to our water supply is a bi-product of aluminium; an industrial waste that is toxic and difficult to digest. Although it is commonly added to water as a “public service” to prevent tooth decay in children, controversy has surrounded this practice as large amounts of fluoride can weaken the immune system and may cause heart disease, genetic damage and cancers.

 

Calcium fluoride

Calcium fluoride is found in nature and is very different to the sodium fluoride added to drinking water. It increases the deposition of calcium in the bones and teeth, reduces acid formation in the mouth (especially from carbohydrates), increases the elasticity of connective tissue, and reduces the movement of minerals out of tooth enamel.

 

Magnesium

Magnesium is essential for many metabolic processes, especially the correct distribution of sodium, potassium and calcium across the cell membranes. Most of it is stored in the bones. It is often called the anti-stress mineral as it helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function. Magnesium also keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, keeps bones strong, helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure, and is involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. It also plays a role in preventing and managing migraines, PMS, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, kidney stones and diabetes.

 

Nitrate

Nitrate is an inorganic compound that occurs under a variety of conditions in the environment, both naturally and synthetically. Unless otherwise specified, nitrate levels usually refer only to the amount of nitrogen present (the oxygen is not measured), and the usual standard is 10 mg/l.

 

Potassium

Potassium is an essential mineral, assisting in muscle contraction and working with sodium to regulate the body’s water balance inside the cell. It is important for a healthy nervous system, regular heart rhythm, and maintaining the alkalinity of body fluids. It also stimulates the kidneys to remove wastes, promotes healthy skin, helps to send oxygen to the brain for clear thinking, and helps prevent strokes.

 

Silicon

Silicon is the second most abundant mineral on the planet after oxygen, and is most commonly found as silica, or silicon dioxide (SiO2). Silica is one of nature’s natural cleansing agents, and is important for healthy hair and skin, nails and eyes. It is necessary for the formation of collagen for bones and connective tissue, for calcium absorption, flexible arteries and cardiovascular health. It is also claimed to counteract the effects of aluminum in the body, stimulate the immune system, inhibit premature aging, and help prevent Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis. Waters rich in Silica(mg/L) include: Fiji(85), Te Waihou Reserve(78), Vichy Catalan(77), Malavella(77), Otakiri Reserve(76), and Puit St Georges(38).

 

Sodium

Sodium is an essential mineral which along with potassium helps to regulate the body's water balance and blood pressure. It is important for the proper functioning of nerves and muscles, and maintaining blood pH. A proper balance of potassium and sodium is necessary for good health. Diuretics, often taken for high blood pressure and by the elderly, can cause sodium deficiency. However, most people consume too much sodium in their diet, and typically require more potassium to avoid an imbalance.

 

Sulphates

Sulphur (S) is found in all body tissues. It is often called nature’s beauty mineral because it is prevalent in keratin, a tough protein substance in hair, nails and skin. It is also involved in the synthesis of collagen, the principal protein which gives the skin structural integrity. It helps the body to resist bacteria, protects against toxic substances such as radiation and pollution, and helps slow the ageing process.

 

Total dissolved solids

Total dissolved solids (TDS) indicate the amount of dissolved minerals and other “soluble matter” contained in one litre of water. In Australasia, only natural water with a TDS of over 250 mg/L (250 parts per million (ppm)) can be called a "mineral" water. Water with a TDS of less than 250 mg/L is usually labelled as natural spring water. European standards require a mineral content above 500 mg/L for mineral water; below 500 mg/L is considered spring water.

Note: Only water sourced from an underground, water-bearing strata (as defined in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code), with natural minerals, may be labelled as a natural mineral or spring water. No minerals may be added to the water.


Sparkling Water

Sparkling waters come in a variety of carbonation and may be naturally carbonated emerging from their source or artificially carbonated. Examples of naturally carbonated waters include Malavella and Gerolsteiner. Naturally carbonated waters have been highly prized in the past due to their high levels of minerals, and carbonation associated with volcanic activity, such as the influence of Mt Vesuvius on Farrarelle. Some waters, like Perrier, emerge from their source naturally carbonated, but with the gas now collected serparately and added back at the time of bottling. Other sparkling waters may be artificially carbonated by adding carbon dioxide under pressure. The level of carbonation is an important element in providing ‘mouthfeel’ to a water and how it compliments food and other beverages.

 

Sparkling Water

Still waters are the perfect accompaniment to food and other beverages with strong flavours, whether to compliment or dilute the flavour. Many whisky drinkers would never think of having their dram straight without water, but often don’t consider what they are actually adding to their often not inexpensive tipple. Still waters are also great thirst quenchers during and after athletic activities or simply for replenishing lost fluids on hot days. You may also wish to consider substituting still low mineral waters when making ice, tea or coffee, ensuring the perfect drink.

 

Local Water

Australia & New Zealand is regarded as a pure and natural environment and this is reflected in the growing numbers of waters available from numerous springs around the country. Many tend to be from aquifers of volcanic origin, not surprising given New Zealand's ongoing geothermal and volcanic activity. Generally, New Zealand waters are relatively low in mineral content (TDS less than 250mg/L). Many also tend to be naturally high in Silica.

 

Imported Water

Many imported waters, especially European, can be significantly higher in mineral content than local waters, and often also come naturally carbonated. By definition European 'mineral waters' must have over 500mg/L total dissolved solids (TDS) vs only 250mg/L in Australasia and North America. Waters prized for their moderately high but well balanced mineral content include the likes of Gerolsteiner and San Pellegrino. Others, such as Vichy Catalan and Malavella from Spain, are extremely high in mineral content which gives them a distinct and unique flavour.

 

Epicurean Waters

More and more people are now choosing to complement their meals, whether dining out or at home, with bottled waters and with or without wine. Many waters are ideal compliments to wine, as they may dilute the overall flavours and certainly the ultimate effect. By ‘Epicurean’ we are implying waters most suited for formal or dining occasions. Of course, this is a very subjective category. We have chosen waters because of their specific or overall mineral content, packaging, or just general presentation. Enjoy!

 

Low Sodium Waters

Sodium is an essential mineral which, along with potassium, helps regulate the body’s water balance and blood pressure. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended daily allowance (RDA) is no more than 2,400mg (approximately one teaspoon of table salt). Many people consume too much sodium in their diet. If you have been prescribed a low sodium diet a low sodium water may be preferable. The FDA definition of ‘low sodium’ is less than 140mg, and ‘sodium free’ less than 5mg/L. We have selected a range naturally low in sodium (less than 10mg/L) which fit the ‘low sodium’ criteria. Note, even waters typically high in mineral content will have relatively low sodium levels compared with many foods. We hope this helps. These waters will also suit those who prefer their waters low in minerals.


 

Matching, Harmonizing & Pairing Bottled Water and Food

The 75% Rule:

The sensation of the whole dish should be matched with the carbonation level of the water. The mouthfeel generated by the bubbles should be matched with the mouthfeel of the dish. Loud, big, bold bubbles overpower subtle dishes, while Still water might be too great a contrast with crispy food. Bigger bubbles would stand up better to the mouthfeel of such a dish. An alternative epicurean pleasure can be achieved by carefully contrasting the mouthfeel of a dish with a water carbonation. Sushi with an Effervescent or even Light carbonated water is a perfect example.

 

 

The 20% Rule: 

The dominant food items of the dish should be matched with the mineral content of the water. Low TDS waters have a light, sometimes crisp, perception, while higher TDS levels give the water some weight and substance. High levels of sodium (salt), bicarbonate, and silica (or their absence) can also have some impact on the perception of the water. Use sodium-free water with caviar or water with a high bicarbonate level for cheese. Softer waters (low in calcium and magnesium) with higher silica levels can display a nice sweet softness that works well with some desserts.

 

The 5% Rule: 

Fine-tune the drinking experience with the water's acidity or alkalinity. A neutral pH works well with anything. Sometimes a sweet perception is possible in waters with a slight alkalinity, while waters with a very high pH may demonstrate a very subtle bitterness, but never an unpleasant one. Try matching acidic water with fatty food or seafood. The contribution that pH factor makes to food and water matching is easily overrated only on the outer ranges of the spectrum (less than 5 or more than 10) does it play a more significant role.