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Beyond Hydration: Tasting the Waters with Aquatasteology

article by: Living Therme - 17 Jan 2024

Water is at the heart of Therme. But we know that in our everyday lives, it’s easy to forget just how crucial it is. 

Water Sommelier, Milin Patel, shares why we should reframe our attitude towards water, to respect its history, health benefits and taste, and why he is advocating for ‘Aquatasteology’. 

The elixir of life

For centuries water has served as the foundation of urban growth, public health and economic prosperity. The proper maintenance of accessible public drinking fountains plays a central role in guaranteeing universal access to clean water, minimising environmental harm, enhancing wellbeing and fortifying the economy.

In an era where pharmaceutical drugs and vitamin supplements dominate the health and wellbeing conversation, we often overlook the remarkable potential that water holds for our overall health. Water, the elixir of life, has been a source of vitality for centuries, long before the advent of modern pharmacies. Recorded in history, civilisations often associated specific ailments with particular springs based on their mineral composition and believed that a spiritual connection enhanced the healing properties. Communities would flock to natural water springs not just for hydration but for the unparalleled health benefits they provide. It's time we delve into the world of water, its associated geology and mineral content, its unexpected flavours, and the emotional and sensory experiences it can offer from its enchanted sources – believed in legend to possess magical properties.

Springs were more than just water sources, they were portals to another realm of healing and spiritual connection. With each sip or dip to take "The Waters," people embarked on a journey to rediscover vitality, rejuvenation, and a deeper connection to the Earth itself.

Recorded in history, natural springs held a special place in many cultures, not just for their life-giving hydration, but also for their rich mineral content that was considered a gift from the gods. It was believed that the spirits of the springs dwelled within, and those who partook of "The Waters" were touched by their healing grace. Ancient cultures revered these natural wonders, dedicating rituals and offerings to honour the spirits within.

An example of this is Saratoga Springs, nestled in the heart of New York. Here, the naturally carbonated mineral springs, bubbling forth from deep within the Earth, were deemed sacred. The Mohawk people who originally inhabited the land saw the springs as a manifestation of the Earth's spirit, and European settlers later echoed this belief. Saratoga Springs became a hub for wellness seekers who journeyed to experience the mystical properties of the waters, a tradition rooted in ancient times.

The Saturnia hot springs in Italy have been enjoyed by people for thousands of years.

Further across the Atlantic, the Romans constructed the grand city of Aquae Sulis around the naturally warm springs of Bath, England. They merged the spiritual beliefs of their goddess Sulis Minerva (a Romano-Briton deity created through the combination of the Celtic god Sulis and the Roman goddess, Minerva) with the rejuvenating powers of the thermal waters. Bathing in these mineral-rich springs was seen as a communion with the divine, a ritual of healing, and a pathway to health and vitality. 

We now flow across the British Channel and arrive in Lourdes in France. Here, a humble spring believed to be blessed by the Virgin Mary has been the source of countless miraculous healings. Pilgrims from around the world continue to flock to this spiritual sanctuary, seeking not only physical relief but a profound connection to the divine.

These water sources are just a glimpse into the captivating history of natural water springs dotted across the globe. Water flows through Mother Nature's spectrum of flavours and diversity, surpassing even the combined offerings of Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola. Each natural spring stands as a distinct entity, bearing its exclusive mineral composition, akin to our DNA - water is as unique as you.

Minerals and their Impact on Wellbeing

Minerals in water are not just random elements; they play a crucial role in our health. From calcium to magnesium, potassium, chloride, sodium, bicarbonates, and silica, these minerals can positively affect various bodily functions. Calcium, for instance, is vital for strong bones and teeth, while magnesium supports muscle and nerve function. Silica contributes to hair and nail strength. Exploring the mineral content of water is like uncovering nature's supplement supplied directly to you.

When we partake of water with varying mineral compositions, our bodies respond in a truly delightful manner. There exists a fascinating interplay between the minerals within the water, our sensory perceptions, and the thirst signals generated by our brains. Drawing from my extensive 20 years of experience and countless interactions with guests in diverse water-tasting events, it has become abundantly clear that offering comprehensive information about the specific minerals and their influence on taste is essential.

The taste of water transcends a mere sensation. It's a symphony of flavours and textures orchestrated by the minerals it carries. As we savour these unique mineral profiles, a remarkable reaction takes place within our brains. It's as though our brains recognise the goodness in the water and trigger a pleasurable response. I've witnessed this sensation firsthand as my guests often exclaim, "Ohhh wow, I really like that, it tastes so good! Can I have some more?" This reaction is a common occurrence in the numerous water-tasting events I've had the privilege of hosting all around the world. This intricate relationship between minerals, sensory experiences, and the brain's yearning for more provides us with a profound appreciation of the water we consume and its impact on our overall wellbeing.

Bathing in mineral water can bring benefits to your mind, body and spirit.

The Terroir of Water: Understanding the Taste

Indigenous peoples around the world share a profound connection with water, perceiving its taste as a reflection of the environment and the spirits. Just as wine draws its distinctive qualities from the terroir of the region where the grapes are grown, water possesses its own unique terroir. Geological and environmental factors in specific areas contribute to the taste of water, and in some exceptional sources, natural carbonation adds an extra dimension. This exploration unveils a world of appreciation for the nuanced differences in water's flavours and mouthfeel. It's time to shift our understanding of water from a mere source of hydration to a nuanced beverage worthy of deep exploration that should be shared and celebrated.

Have you ever paused to wonder why your tap water has the taste it does? The intriguing history of how the taste of drinking water has evolved over the twentieth century. Exploring these facts questions how significant shifts in municipal water treatment have affected consumers' perception of the environment from which their water originates. This unique historical perspective uncovers the pivotal role of palatability in shaping Western water treatment processes and prompts us to reconsider our assumptions about the natural taste of water.

In an era where we have developed global vocabularies for wines, coffee, and other beverages, connoisseurs identify intricate flavour profiles and elevate their value. But what about water? How can we truly value something if we lack a vocabulary to describe it? It's time to change that. Let's establish a language to articulate the taste, mouthfeel, and nuances of water, just as we do for other beverages we value. Water deserves a place at the table served in the best possible stemware. We must elevate the drinking water experience.

Some of the flavours of water that delegates recongnised at Therme's Wellbeing Leadership Summit last year.

Aquatasteology: A New Way to Share the Experience of Drinking Water

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) or Dry Residue is the measure of minerals within water. The content of minerals such as magnesium and calcium in water can impact its taste by introducing subtle mineral notes. Magnesium and calcium ions can interact with the taste receptors on our tongue, potentially enhancing the perceived taste profile and providing a slightly mineral-rich or earthy flavour. Silica for example will provide a silky soft, smooth and velvety mouthfeel. 

It's time to introduce Aquatasteology, a tried and tested concept that I've developed. Aquatasteology encourages us to explore the world of water with friends and family. Sit down with different sources of water – tap, bottled, spring, and more. Grab some pens and paper and share your impressions of the taste, mouthfeel, sensory and back story experiences the water provides. You'll be amazed that mindful consumption of water reveals a new water connection that will allow you to immediately create a vocabulary to communicate the value of water, for life. This level of exploration can further develop with water parings with food, wine and confectionary which elevates the dining experience. 

Furthermore, we should advocate for more accessible public drinking water fountains in our existing and future cities. These fountains should provide not only clean and safe water but also water that tastes great with inspiration from historical designs. There should be a deep consideration of integrating elements of art, health and wellbeing aesthetics into modern public drinking water fountains that will HYDRATE THE IMAGINATION WITH WATER AS UNIQUE AS YOU!

Combining ancient bathing with advanced technology

Thanks to Therme's advanced water filtration technology, we can retain the natural mineral composition of the thermal water used in our resorts, minimising the use of chemicals. This ensures that our guests can enjoy all the benefits of thermal bathing. Find out more about our water technology here.


ViRumi 24 Jan 2024, 13:13
And we thought water was water!

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