By Peter McMahon
How long has it been since you really enjoyed a glass of water?
Odds are, any number of things in your H2O (both better and worse for you than just regular water in its unspoiled state) have tainted your chance to experience this life-giving liquid at its best.
I recently had the chance to taste water at its most pure - straight from an iceberg - and it changed my outlook on it forever.
Inspired by that eye-opening glass, here - in my opinion - are the five best glasses of water on Earth:
5. Waste water never tasted so good
Folks in Sweden are so into water purification that Stockholm even has an annual water wastewater reclamation prize, offered up to the most deserving innovators. The city boasts a global reputation for doing things right when it comes to the environment.
From an area of the city that gets rid of its garbage and recycling through giant vacuum tubes and incinerators, to systems that recycle waste water to drink (from sinks, not the other place waste water comes from) the city has made some tough decisions to stick to a green agenda.
Having tasted this water (in regular and snazzy "sparkling" form), I can tell you it's tastier than anything I've ever had out of a tap before - Hints of charcoal, but that's maybe my reaction to a complete lack of fluoride or the bottled water I usually drink in Europe.
4. Tap water that doesn't offend
According to the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting Awards (legitimately acknowledged as an authority on water taste), Clearbrook (near Abbotsford), British Columbia has the best-tasting tap water on Earth.
The BC town won the Virginia spa's annual world-wide water taste-off for 2008, along with the water district of Southern California.
3. Best spring water on Earth
Though some die-hard environmentalists consider bottled water a big no-no, we're talking taste here - and I can tell you that U.S.-based Tumai bottled water is the best-tasting liquid I have ever guzzled from a 500 ml prison of polycarbonate.
Gathered from a spring in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, this Martinsburg, West Virginia-based company has won several top prizes for taste in 2008. Its water is 100 per cent free of sodium and it shows in the taste.
What's more, the company donates 15 per cent of its proceeds to programs that better the quality of life for impoverished communities in Sub-Saharan-Africa.
2. Simulating a mineral spring in your kitchen
For years, I'd guzzled water from the cooler jug. Tastier than our rural tap water run though a filter, I was content to drink from the cooler at home and (ironically) from the tap at work (Toronto tap water is "quality filtered 300,000 times a year", after all.)
A few months ago, I was introduced to one of these new gravity water filtration systems, which allow clean water from any source to trickle through a series of mineral and ceramic filters, producing tasty, pathogen-free water.
What's most impressive is the taste, though - smooth with a hint of what tastes like a combination of clay mixed with mild vanilla - Totally weird but once you have a glass, you can't get enough.
A note on some of these gravity water systems - ours is a water-cooler-top model from Nikken: Some of these have been heralded lately as eco-snake-oil, offering few of the health benefits their packaging claims. However, none make the water any less safe than it started out and for taste alone, many are worth the price.
One of the more sensible and proven models is the British Berkefeld gravity water system from DoultonUSA. The sting of its $230 US price tag is softened a bit by the fact that it doesn't need any filters replaced for years at a time.
1. An iceberg in your glass
Early in the day, staff from The Norseman on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula receive their regular chunk of ice from the north Atlantic, and allow some of it to melt into pitchers, with a few still-frozen chunks thrown in to keep things cold.
A meal at the restaurant is a tasty mix of local seafood and diner-theatre-style historical re-enactments courtesy of the kitchen staff.
All fine fare. But the water was the real show-stopper:
Never before had I wondered if water was supposed to taste different than the fluoride-sanitized stuff that flows from your tap, or the mineral-overtones of spring water. Until I tried iceberg water
This was "just" water - or about as close to just water as water had been since it first came into being during the formation of our solar system: Tasteless but somehow still satisfying.
Contrary to what you might think, there is absolutely no taste of salt in iceberg water. That's because ice freezes slowly enough to prevent any inclusion of salt in its complex crystal structure.
A life-changing experience to put on your wallet to-do-in-life list.