Tea Terms to Describe the Flavor of Tea
- Astringency: A lively and mouth drying affect on the tongue. Not bitter, but a clean and refreshing quality
- Balance: Various characteristics of the tea, including body, flavor and finish all come together to perfect the cup
- Biscuity: A freshly-baked bread smell present in some black tea like Assam
- Body: The tactile aspect of tea’s weight and feeling in the mouth. Teas range full to light bodied
- Bright: A bright liquor color or a lively, clear flavor
- Brisk: The mouth-puckering and lively bite found in high quality tea versus dullness
- Character: A tea’s signature attributes depending upon origin whether its country or region
- Citrusy: A citrus fruit flavor like an orange or lemon
- Complex: A tea with depth and subtle flavor or aroma combinations
- Finish: The lasting taste on your tongue after swallowing the tea
- Fruity: A flavor characteristic of fruit, whether it be apple, peaches or Muscat
- Flat: Dull tea lacking freshness
- Flowery: A floral note or flavor associated with high grade teas
- Malty: A sweet, malt flavor
- Muscat: Often used to describe high quality Darjeeling – the aromas and flavors of the Muscat grape
- Pungent: Astringent with balanced elements of briskness, brightness and strength
- Self-drinking: Refers to tea with complex flavor profile that does not need additional flavoring such as milk or sugar
- Smooth: Round bodied, fine drinking teas
- Strength: Refers to the intensity of flavor, color and aroma
- Smoky: A smoky wood aroma or flavor
(The above tea tasting terms are descriptions used by the Mighty Leaf Tea Company)
Antioxidants – Antioxidants are vitamins found in tea and coffee. They are substances that work against oxidation and stabilize excess free radicals in the body. Polyphenols and flavonoids are found in tea and coffee.
Assam – It a region in Northeastern India that produces almost 75% of India’s tea production.
Black Tea – It is the most widely consumed tea in the world. After harvesting, it goes through the process of withering, rolling, oxidation and drying.
Blended Tea - These are a variety of teas blended together. As many as 20 teas can be blended to achieve a desired taste profile.
Bud – This is the developing tip of a tea plant which is found at the end of each stem.
Broken Orange Pekoe – Denotes a grade of black tea and the size of the tea leaf. It produces a stronger and darker brew.
Camellia Sinensis – This is the tea plant that all types of tea are come Except herbal infusions which are not teas at all.
Ceylon – This refers to the nation of Sri Lanka. They produce high quality black tea at elevations between four thousand and sixty five hundred feet.
Chai Tea - An Indian Continental favorite made with black tea, spices and steamed milk.
Chamomile – It is a daisy-like flower that is made into herbal infusions. It is suppose to help you sleep, aid in digestion, and boost your immune system.
CTC – This stands for the crush-tear-curl processing method used to manufacture tea for tea bags. It is a grade of tea that allows the manufacturer to yield more cups per pound than by the orthodox method.
Darjeeling – Darjeeling is a tea producing region in West Bengal, India. It is known for its high quality black teas and has earned the designation “the champagne of teas”.
Decaffeinated Tea - Removal of caffeine by various methods. Methylene chloride, ethyl acetate, swiss water and CO2 are methods used.
Dragonwell – Dragonwell is a green tea china that has a nutty flavor with overtones of grass, beans and orchids.
Earl Grey – Earl Grey is a very popular flavored black tea. This black tea is blended with the oil extracted the Bergamot orange and produces a citrusy, floral aroma.
Estate – This is another term for a tea plantation or farm.
Fannings – These are small pieces of tea leaves usually found in tea bags.
First Flush – This is the first harvest of the season when new leaves develop on the tea plants in the spring after being dormant.
Flowering Tea – It is a flower-tea combination whereby a small bundle of tea leaves and flowers are tied together with a thread. When placed in hot water and steeped, it slowly unfurls and resembles a blooming flower.
Gram - This is how tea is sold around the world. Two grams is the standard measure to make one cup of tea.
Green Tea - Tea that has undergone minimal processing. It has a milder taste and is popular in Japan and China. After harvesting, it goes through the process of slight withering, steaming or pan firing then rolling and drying.
Gunpowder Tea – Gunpowder tea is a Chinese green tea in which the tea leaf is tightly rolled and looks like a pellet. It is considered a strong green tea with vegetal notes.
Herbal Infusion – It is an herbal beverage or tisane. It is not made real tea leaves but rather tree bark, seeds, grasses, fruit peels, berries, and flowers. They are caffeine-free.
Jasmine Tea – This is green tea scented with jasmine flowers.
Lapsang Souchong – This is a black tea with a distinctive smoky flavor.
Liquor – This is the term used to designate the finished brewed tea after the tea leaves are removed.
Matcha – This is a powdered Japanese green tea used for drinking and cooking.
Oolong – Oolong tea is a semi-fermented (oxidized) tea that is primarily manufactured in China and Taiwan and falls between green and black tea. After harvesting, it goes through the process of withering, shaking & bruising and drying.
Orange Pekoe – This refers to the size of the tea leaf not the quality of the tea. It is a large tea leaf that is essentially intact after drying and sifting.
Oxidation – This is the process in which green teas turn black. It is when the leave’s chlorophyll breaks down enzymatically resulting in the change in color. Black tea is fully oxidized and oolong tea is partially oxidized.
Plucking – This is the term for hand-picking the tea leaves.
Polyphenols – These are antioxidants found in teas. They are chemical compounds that are responsible for a tea’s characteristic astringency and thickness.
Pu-erh Tea – This is a type of tea after going through the oxidation process comes into contact with a bacteria that triggers true fermentation. This unique process originated in China’s Yunnan province.
Rooibos – This is an herbal infusion that is made the leaves and stems of the Aspalathus linearis bush grown almost exclusively in the Western Cape province of South Africa. It is high in antioxidants.
Sencha – This is the most consumed green tea in Japan. It has a robust herbal flavor.
Tannin - A prominent chemical in tea that creates it pungency and taste. Tannin is responsible for the "drying" effect in your mouth when consuming teas. If you leave the tea leaves too long in the pot or cup, you get a really pungent taste.
Tisane – This is the European term for herbal infusion.
White Tea – White tea is a slightly oxidized tea that has its origins in the Fujian province of China. After it is harvested, the buds and leaves are allowed to wither and then dry.
Yerba Mate – Yerba Mate is holly tree South America. The leaves and stems are roasted and aged before being made into an herbal infusion. Unlike all other herbal infusions, Yerba Mate has caffeine.