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Tea Glossary . . .


Tea Glossary - Glossary of Tea Terms

Agony of the leaves This is a description of the relaxation of curled leaves during steeping.
Anhui The major black tea producing regions in China.
Aroma The characteristic fragrance of brewed tea, imparted by its essential oils.
Assam A type of tea grown in the state of Assam, India, known for its strong, deep red brewed color.
Astringent A term describing the dry taste in the mouth left by teas high in unoxidized polyphenols.
Autumnal A term describing tea harvested late in the growing season.
Bakey A tea taster expression for overfired teas
Bergamot An essential oil of the bergamot orange used to flavor a black tea base to make Earl Grey tea
Billy An Australian term referring to tin pot with wire handle to suspend over an open fire in which tea is boiled
Biscuity: Green tea leaves that have been oxidized, or fermented, imparting a characteristic reddish brew. The most common type of tea worldwide.
Black Tea  prepared from green tea leaves which have been allowed to oxidize, or ferment, to form a reddish brew.
Blend A mixture of teas, usually to promote consistency between growing seasons
Bloom Used  to describe sheen or lustre present to finished leaf
Body A term to denote a full strength brew
Bold Describes large leaf cut tea
Brassy An unpleasant acidic bite from improperly withered tea
Break An auction term describing a tea lot for sale, usually at least 18 chests.
Brick tea Tea leaves that have been steamed and compressed into bricks. The bricks are shaved and brewed with butter and salt and then served as a soup.
Bright Describes  a light-colored leaf or its resulting bright red brew.
Brisk A tea high in astringency.
Broken Description of  tea leaves that have been processed through a cutter, reducing leaf size.
Caffeine A stimulating compound present in tea
Cambric tea a very weak tea infusion in an excess of milk and sugar
Catechins: A class of polyphenol found in high concentrations in green tea, and lower and varied concentrations in black teas.
Ceylon: Teas made in Sri Lanka.
Cha The Romanized spelling of Chinese and Japanese character referring to tea.
Chai tea. Often refers to masala chai, or spiced tea, a strong black tea infused with milk, sugar, and spices.
Chest The classical tea package, usually made of wood and aluminum-lines, used to ship tea from plantation.
Chesty A term signifying off odor in tea from the wood in the tea chest.
Chunmee a grade of Chinese tea with a curled shape.
Congou a general name for Chinese black tea, derived from gongfu.
Coppery Describes a reddish infusion, associated with black teas of high quality.
Ctc This is an acronym for Crush, Tear, and Curl, a manufacturing process to create tea leaves that impart a stronger infusion.
Darjeeling Tea grown in the Darjeeling region, a mountainous area around the Himalayas, of India. These (generally black) teas are well known for their crisp astringency.
Dhool Describes the coppery, fermenting tea leaf.
Dust This is  smallest grade of tea, this is typically associated with lower quality, but is prized for its quick extraction and is commonly used in teabags.
Earl grey Black tea that is scented with the essential oil of bergamot, a citrus.
Fannings These are small, grainy particles of leaf sifted out of better grade teas.
Fermentation used in the process of preparing black and oolong tea, this step involves allowing the natural browning enzymes present in tea leaf to oxidize fresh green tea leaves and to impart the darker brown-red color and characteristic aroma.
Fibrous teas which contain a large percentage of fannings
Firing the process of rapidly heating the leaf, either with hot air or in a wok, to quickly halt fermentation and dry the leaf to its final product.
Flat: teas lacking astringency or briskness
Flowery used in grading the size of tea, it typically indicates a leaf style with more of the lighter colored tips.
Flush the freshly-picked tea leaves, typically comprising the bud and first two leaves of the growing tea shoot.
formosa A tea produced in Taiwan, typically oolong teas
Full A strong tea without bitterness and posessing good color
Genmaicha A green tea with toasted rice
Golden Describes the orange colored tip present in high quality black tea
Gong fu A Chinese term meaning performed with care; describes a style of brewing that involves many repeated short infusions in a small pot.
Grainy A term used to describe high quality CTC teas
Green An unfermented, dried tea, more commonly found in China and Japan.
Gunpowder A green tea which is rolled into pellets which unfurl in hot water.
Gyokuro Japanese green tea produced from shaded plants. "Pearl Dew"
Hard A pungent tea, desired in some Assam teas
Harsh Bitter teas
Heavy A thick, colory infusion with little briskness or astringency
Hyson A Chinese term meaning flourishing spring associated with green teas, and a brand of tea popular in the eighteenth century.
Jasmine A black tea scented with jasmine flowers, typically made with green Pouchong tea as the base
Keemun A black tea from central China, typically hand rolled and fired.
Lapsang Souchong A Chinese black tea which is fired (dried) over a smoky (pine wood) fire to impart its characteristic smoky flavor.
Light A term describing tea that produces a weak infusion.
Malty A term describing slightly over-fired tea, sometimes desirable.
Metallic A term to denote coppery taste of some teas
Muddy A term to denote a dull, blackish color of the infusion
Nose The aroma of the tea
Oolong A form of tea characterized by lighter brews and larger leaf styles. This tea is typically understood as a lightly fermented tea, between green and black tea on a continuum.
Orange pekoe Referring to size of leaf, not quality or flavor, this term indicates a larger-size grade of whole leaf teas.
Orthodox A processing method that imitates the larger leaf styles of hand-produced teas.
Pan fired A tea that is steamed and then agitated in an iron wok over a fire
Pekoe A grade of small, whole leaf tea, from the Chinese term baihao, which refers to the white hairs of the new buds on the tea plant.
Plain A term to denote dull liquor with sour taste
Plucking The process of harvesting the tea by cutting the flush from the growing tea shrub.
Polyphenols The astringent compounds present in tea
Pu erh A type of tea most notably from the Yunnan province of China. Damp green tea that has been fermented microbiologically to a black leaf.
Pungent A term to denote a very astringent tea
Rawness A bitter taste
Rolling The process of crushing the leaves to initiate fermentation and impart twist.
Self drinking A term describing full-bodied tea that does not need to be blended.
Soft A term for underfermented teas
Souchong  A term for large leaf teas derived from the third and fourth leaf of the tea shoot
Stalk Teas with presence of red stalk pieces from a hard plucking
Tannin A misleading term referring to tea polyphenols, which are different than the tannic acid polyphenols associated with other plants such as grapes.
Tarry A  term for teas that have been fired over smoky flames, imparting a smoky flavor
Tat A shelf made of wire mesh or burlap used to spread the leaves out for withering and fermentation
Theaflavins An orange red potyphenols unique to fermented teas such as black tea, and formed from the condensation of two catechins
Theanine A unique amino acid in tea.
Ti kuan yin Meaning "ron goddess of mercy", an especially dark and fragrant type of Oolong tea.
Tippy Teas with white or golden tips, indicating high quality
Tisane Teas produced from the leaves of plants other than the tea plant, herbal tea.
Tuocha A type of brick tea using pu erh tea pressed into a bowl-shaped brick.
Twist Before fermentation, the leaves need to be crushed to initiate oxidation. This imparts the curled appearance of the finished lea
Two and a bud The ideal plucked tea for production, consisting of the new tea shoot and the first two leaves
White A special type of green tea. Distinguished by the presence of the white hairs of the tea flush (baihao) and a lighter green, almost clear, infusion.
Winey A mellow quality, characteristic of some Keemun teas which have been given time to age
Withering The first step in production of most teas. Involves letting the fresh leaves wither for some period of time after plucking to reduce moisture content.
Woody An unpleasant hay taste in black tea.
Yixing A region in China known for its purple clay, and the unglazed teapots produced from it (Pronounced ee-hsing).


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