Friday, November 03, 2006

Interview - Michael Mascha of FineWaters

For most of us, bottled water is just water and that's the end of it. But for Michael Mascha, publisher of the FineWaters site and author of the new book, Fine Waters: A Connoisseur’s Guide to the World’s Most Distinctive Bottled Waters, it's not that simple.

If Mascha has his way, bottled water will be taken seriously one day, rather than being viewed as just a convenient way to drink while you're on the run.

We reviewed Fine Waters here a few weeks ago. Michael Mascha was kind enough to take a few moments out of his day recently to talk to us about water.

In his book, Mascha estimates that there are about 3,000 varieties of bottled water worldwide. He guesses that he's tasted between 300 and 350 of those. Asked whether he could pick a favorite, Mascha is quick to respond, "No, and I'm glad I don't have to."

Mascha does mention a few types of bottled water he's fond of, including soft (low in mineral content) rainwaters, high TDS (total dissolved solids) waters, naturally carbonated waters, and carbonated waters with smaller bubbles. He says he likes the latter because the tiny bubbles "don't disturb the food so much."

As for bottle designs, Mascha says he enjoys bottles that have some kind of connection to the area they come from. He names Antipodes (New Zealand) and L'Aubade (South Africa) as examples.

One of the most unusual bottled waters Mascha's run across is not one that's meant for internal consumption. It's Dead Sea water with a very high mineral content and it's made for external use. Though he can't help but wonder if the sports cap sends a mixed message.

Mascha says that bottled water doesn't get better with age, but by the same token, it pretty much has an infinite shelf life. He stresses that the waters themselves may vary widely in age, depending on their source.

As the conversation turns to water and tea, Mascha says that an inexpensive home filtration device should produce water that's on about the same level as a low-end bottled water.

Though he hasn't done a lot of experimenting with water and tea, he uses soft water to brew rooibos herbal tea and feels that rainwater, with its very low mineral content, would be a good choice in general. As for a specific brand that might be readily available and good for tea drinking, Mascha say that Fuji is "a good thing to start with."

Thanks to Michael Mascha for taking the time to speak with us. Read our review of Fine Waters here.

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