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Tea Terminology

Tea Terminology

Apr 1st 2016

"Tea Set", Jean-√Čtienne Liotard, about 1781 - 1783, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

Glossary of Commonly Used Words Describing Tea

Astringent: A tea tasting term which describes liquor which is pungent but inclined to be acidic.
Bite: Very brisk and "alive" tea liquor. A desirable trait.
Blend: A mixture of teas from several different origins to achieve a certain flavor profile.
Body: Describes tea liquor possessing fullness and strength.
Bright: A lively tea, usually with red liquor.
Brisk: Describes a live taste as opposed to flat or soft.
Coppery: Refers to color of the tea liquor, like a new penny.
Creaming Down: A high quality tea which turns cloudy generally believed to be caused by the precipitation of tannins. (Sometimes when the water is too acidic, the tea may appear to be cloudy too.)
Dull: Tea liquor which is not clear or bright.
Dust: A term which has been used to describe the smallest particles of tea leaf.
Earthy: An unfavorable characteristic generally caused by storing tea under damp conditions.
Flush: The new growth on a tea plant consisting of a full complement of leaves. It takes about 40 days for a new bud to blossom into a flush.
Full: A strong tea with good color and no bitterness.
Hard: A desirable quality suggesting pungency.
Harsh: Refers to a tea which is bitter.
Heavy: A tea which is not brisk and overly strong.
Light: Describes a liquor which is rather thin and lacking depth of color but which may be flavorful or pungent or both.
Metallic: An undesirable trait which imparts a metallic taste.
Muddy: A term which describes dull or lifeless liquor.
Plain: Describes teas which are clean and innocuous but lacking character.
Pungent: Describes tea liquor having marked briskness and an astringent effect on the palate without bitterness.
Rich: Mellow liquor which is abounding in quality and thickness.
Tannin: The chemical component of tea thought to be responsible for its presumed health benefits. One of the major components which contributes to the taste and pungency of tea.
Thick: Describes tea liquor having substance, but not necessarily strength.
Thin: Tea liquor which lacks thickness or strength.
Tisane: A term which describes an herbal infusion.
Weak: Teas which have thin liquor.