TRANSLATION | Neda
看似無色無味，喝入口卻驚奇連連，如絲綢般滑順、橄欖油般厚潤、可樂般暢快，每種礦物質給予味蕾的感受因人而異，因而造就了「水」的多樣性。經 Water Selection 創辦人夏豪均的熱情解說，以一杯杯透明液體，引領我們走入國際品水師的專業畛域，「看流速、聞味道、品口感。」一場生動有趣的品水課程就此展開。
Water seems colorless and tasteless, but it can be surprising when you drink it. It is as smooth as silk, as rich as olive oil, and as refreshing as coke. The taste buds of each mineral are different from person to person, thus create the diversity of water tasting. After the passionate explanation of the founder of Water Selection, Howard Hsia, with some cups of transparent liquid, he led us into the professional field of water tasting.
2017 年遠赴德國杜門斯學院，經嚴謹訓練取得品水師認證，更成為推動台灣品水課程的先驅。回溯起初進修的緣由，夏豪均表示在 2016 年代表開平餐飲學校去希臘參加世界廚師大會，意外發現主廚間的話題皆圍繞在創造驚喜元素與提升用餐體驗，如音樂會影響味蕾、礦泉水搭配入菜等，極具好奇心與行動力的他，便隨即報名品水課程，隔年前往慕尼黑上課。「其中要去練習礦物質的味道要怎麼辨識，總礦物質的含量如何區分，甚至氣泡的強度、口感、味道，以及如何辨別水壞掉的氣味、在哪個階段壞掉。」返台後，也讓夏豪均開始不斷思考，台灣如何能跟著世界創造趨勢，而非以往跟著趨勢發展，花了六個月的時間重新編排課程，經一年的溝通與調整，開平學苑與德國杜門斯學院（Doemens Academy）獨家合作，唯一的「亞洲品水師認證班」終如願成立。
You are what you drink
起初授課時，夏豪均坦言碰上了不少難題，台灣進口水的品牌有限，特色也較單一，但要訓練一個品水師，必須得神農嘗百草，「當時我們還親自去香港、新加坡、大陸去找牌子，第一次的課程，我們是自己扛回來，每個品牌就三瓶，非常珍貴。」爾後夏豪均便成立了 Water Selection 品水師嚴選，一方面收集課程所需的水，也藉此提供廠商進口，「Water Selection 就是一個礦泉水通路平台，我們希望消費者可以一站式找到適合他們的水。」對於礦泉水的挑選建議，夏豪均表示可依身體的不同需求來做攝取，如平常運動完，可以補充一些鈉、鈣、鎂，「我們喝鎂是一個苦甜感，像是喝茶的回甘；鈣是苦苦澀澀的，吞下去時澀感與苦味馬上散發。像我第一次喝，也覺得喝不下，但當你身體缺乏這些礦物質的時候，其實排斥性就不會這麼高，這蠻有趣的，你的身體會告訴你需要什麼礦物質。」
對於餐酒上的搭配探討，夏豪均透露可以將 TDS（總溶解固體）作為統一性的原則，「首先依味道的層次，運用礦物質高低去做一個平衡，如味道油膩、辛辣，要找中高礦物質的水，再來看這道菜裡面用的香料、工法、技術、食材以及它的口感是什麼，用礦物質去配對或增加或消滅。所以一頓餐吃下來不可能每道餐配一支水、一支酒，一定是有一個通則性，會看今天的菜單、味道層次怎麼變化。」更舉例有一款紐西蘭 Antipodes 氣泡水，擁有高矽成分使它具有「養顏美容水」的稱號，不僅適合女性日常飲用，輕盈滑順的口感，也與甜點、前菜、輕食的搭配相輔相成，「尤其是舒芙蕾、鬆餅，比較鬆軟的口感，因為打了碳酸進去，碳酸的酸度會放大，會讓它有點像香檳，產生開胃的感覺。」相同道理也體現於入茶，若是香氣型的茶葉，搭配低礦物質的水，能放大產品本身的韻味；味道濃郁的普洱、大小葉紅茶則使用相對較高礦物質的水，「這就是 Sommelier 好玩的地方，架構是存在的，透過不斷深入嘗試與研究，方能襯托餐點與飲品本身的特色。」
Trend of Water Tasting
In 2017, he went to the Doemens Academy in Germany, and after three weeks of rigorous training, he obtained the certification of water taster, and he became a pioneer in promoting water tasting courses in Taiwan. Looking back on the reasons for the start of his training, Howard said that he represented Kai Ping Culinary School to attend the Worldchefs Congress & Expo 2016 in Greece, and unexpectedly found that the topics among the chefs were all around creating surprising ingredients and enhancing the dining experience, just like the music affects the taste buds and mineral water as well. With great curiosity and motivation, he immediately signed up for the water-tasting course and went to Munich the next year. “We need to practice how to distinguish the taste and the total of minerals, even the strength and flavor, and how to identify the smell of rotten water, also at what stage of getting rotten.” After returning to Taiwan, it also made Howard think about how to create this global trend in Taiwan, instead of merely following the flow. It took six months to re-arrange the curriculum, and after a year of communication and adjustment, Kai Ping Culinary School and Germany’s Doemens Academy cooperated, the only “Asian Water Tasting Certification Class” was finally established.
You are what you drink
At the beginning of lecturing, Howard spoke frankly that he encountered a lot of problems. The brands of imported water in Taiwan are insufficient and the characteristics are relatively simple, but to train a water taster, he must be like Shennong tasting all kinds of herbs. “At that time, we even visited Hong Kong, Singapore, and mainland China to find brands. For the first course, we carried those bottles of water back by ourselves, and there were only three bottles for each brand, which was seen precious.” Later, Howard built up Water Selection to collect the water in need, and can be imported from the manufacturers. “Water Selection is a platform for mineral water. We hope that consumers can find the water that meet their needs.” As for selecting the water, Howard said that people can rely on the body’s different needs. For example, after exercising, you can add some sodium, calcium, and magnesium. “When we drink magnesium, it is a bitter-sweet taste, like the sweetness remained after drinking tea. And calcium is bitter, the water will become smooth, and the astringency and bitterness will be dissipated immediately when swallowed. Like the first time I drink it, I also found it unbearable to drink, but when your body lacks these minerals, the rejection wouldn’t be so high, which is interesting, your body will tell you what minerals you need.”
As for pairing wine while dining, Howard revealed that TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) can be used as the principle of unity, “First of all, according to the level of taste, use the level of minerals to achieve a balance, such as greasy or spicy taste, you have to find water with medium and high minerals, and then look at the spices, techniques, ingredients and taste of the dish, and use minerals to match, increase or eliminate it. So it is impossible to eat a meal pairing with only one kind of water or wine. There must be a general rule, and it will depend on the menu of the day and how the taste level changes.” There is also an example of a New Zealand Antipodes sparkling water, which is contained of high silicon that makes it a that enhances beauty water, it is not only suitable for women to drink daily, its light and smooth taste, also complements desserts, appetizers, and side dish. The acidity of carbonic acid will be amplified, making it a bit like champagne, creating an appetizing feeling.” It’s also the same principle with the tea, if it is aroma-type tea, with low-mineral water, it can amplify the flavor of itself. And for strong Pu’er tea and black teas, you can use relatively high-mineral water. “This is the fun part of Sommelier. The structure exists. Through continuous in-depth experimentation and research, we can set off the characteristics of the meals and drinks themselves.”