Tap, Bottled, Sparkling, or Still

Image via stockxchange | user Ale Paiva

Image via Free Images (formerly stockxchange) | user Ale Paiva

Even though I do sometimes crave something with flavor, water is what I drink at work, at home, and most of the time when we go out for a meal. As long as it’s cold, I’m happy enough and most of the time the general city tap water doesn’t bother me. We use water bottles at home, but just refill them from the tap to have on hand for easy-to-grab hydration.

At least that was the old way.

The first weekend in Thomasville we went out for Chinese food and, per my usual, I ordered water. Even if I wanted something else, most places don’t have decaf tea and the sodas all contain high fructose corn syrup, so water is pretty much my only option in many places, unless I order something alcoholic. Anyway, I was a bit dismayed that the water tasted really bad–not quite like sulfurous well water I’ve experienced back in Louisiana, but there was a definite flavor to this water and it wasn’t the kind of taste I usually go for. And very few places we’ve been to since then offer bottled water as an option, even if you’re willing to pay.

Once we’d settled the pipe repairs and turned the water back on, it was apparent that it wasn’t just an issue at the restaurant, but at our new home as well. While we were just doing simple over-nights, it was easy enough to just grab bottled water, though I did cringe at the waste. Now that we’ve moved in, though, keeping up with chilled bottled water in a fridge already packed with other food is a bit tougher.

First we added a Brita pitcher to at least allow us to filter tap water for drinking. The first time I made supper I realized that any cooking requiring water–like making rice or pasta–would also need to use filtered water to avoid adding an odd taste to our meals. That has the potential to suck through a single pitcher’s worth pretty quickly, not giving us enough time to chill more to drink with the meal. So for now we’re using a combo of bottled water and the filter.

Why not use a filter attachment to our faucet? Every one I’ve enountered in the past has been slow to the point of tedium, so that was out from the start as far as I was concerned.

Instead, for the long term, the plan is to install a whole-house filter where the water line enters the house to filter out any sediments, etc. and then a reverse-osmosis filter under the sink to filter for taste. This way we’ll be able to go back to using tap-filled water bottles for our usual drinking water and also be able to cook with it without worrying out the drinking supply. And different under-sink filters have different filtering rates, so we’re going to make sure to get the fastest rate available so we’re not waiting forever to fill a pot or kettle.

Just because tap water has always been our default and will be again, soon, doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a good bottle of sparkling water from time to time.

I used to think I hated mineral water: it always tasted flat to me (ironic, right?) and the bubbles were (for lack of a better word) pushy and obnoxious. Then I ordered a bottle of Pellegrino while on vacation last fall and the finer bubbles and superior taste convinced me that all mineral water is not created equal. Even the flavored Perrier I’d acquired a taste for couldn’t compare in taste or texture. I was smitten!

It’s still reserved as an occasional treat, mainly because paying for fizzy water still seems a bit of an extravagance, but if I’m someplace that has it and I’m going to have to pay for bottled water, I might was well have a little fun with it, right?

I was always amazed at how finicky people could be about something as simple as water, but now I’m starting to understand. I’ll still prefer the convenience of tap water, even if it’s less than palatable all the time, for the long term. At least we have the option to spend a couple hundred dollars on filtration systems, and for that I’m grateful.