07 May 2001

Tea Tasting Glossary

Assam - Tea produced in the Assam region of India.

Astringent - Sort of puckery and sour. May cause a dry mouth feel followed by a mouthwatering quality.

Black tea - The most common form of tea around the world, black tea is made from allowing tea leaves to oxidize and ferment. The manner in which this is done can result in different black tea varieties - see Lapsang Souchong for one.

Brassy - Too acidic! Sometimes this characteristic results from improper drying.

Brisk - a term for a tea with a pleasant level of astringency.

Brothy - Almost a savory infusion.

Busy - There are too many conflicting flavors in the tea. Your tongue doesn't know what to do with it.

Ceylon - tea from Sri Lanka

Chai - in the West, this is used to mean a spiced tea served with milk. It can also be a spiced flavor of tea served without the milk.

Citrusy - The tea naturally possesses a certain fruitiness, without having had any additives.

Complex - This is the good counterpart of "busy." There are many flavors here, but they work well together and none are overpowering.

Coppery - a brisk, full-bodied infusion, a term usually applied to black tea.

Darjeeling - Refers to tea, usually black, grown in the region of the same name which is located at the foothills of the Himalayas. Darjeeling teas are highly prized and have an excellent brisk quality.

Floral - The tea smells and tastes like flowers (without, of course, having flowers added).

Genmaicha - A Japanese specialty, genmaicha ("brown rice tea") is green tea mixed with toasted brown rice. The finished brew has a delightful flavor reminiscent of toasted rice cereal.

Grassy - A trait found in green tea which is reminiscent of fresh grass. It is usually used positively, but may be used as a negative if the grass taste is not supposed to be present.

Green - Dried tea leaves that have not undergone the fermentation process like black tea and oolong. The most common form of tea in Japan and China, where it figures prominently in the tea ceremony.

Gunpowder - Gunpowder tea is a type of green tea tightly rolled into pellets. These pellets unfurl when steeped.

Gyokuro - "Pearl Dew," a Japanese green tea allowed to grow completely in the shade.

Hard - A tasting term characteristic to many Assam teas, meaning "pungent."

Harsh - Unpleasantly bitter.

Jasmine - Tea flavored with dried jasmine flowers for a very characteristic taste. This is frequently made with green tea as a base, but can also be black.

Lapsang souchong - A smoky black Chinese tea originating in the Mount Wuyi area that is dried in bamboo baskets over open pine or cedarwood fires. It tastes like a campfire, in a good way. Lapsang souchong is said to be an excellent tea for outdoor enthusiasts.

Light - The infusion lacks body.

Malty - Tastes like malt - what else?

Metallic - A light coppery taste.

Muddy - The infusion isn't a bright color and appears dull and dark.

Nose - What the tea smells like.

Oolong - Oolong is partially fermented and somewhere on the spectrum between green and black tea. It is usually brewed very lightly.

Plain - A dull, uninteresting, or watery infusion.

Rooibos - Also called "Red bush tea," rooibos contains no actual tea, and is a tisane that comes exclusively from a bush grown in southern Africa.

Sencha - The most popular tea grown in Japan, Sencha is a high-grade green leaf tea prepared by steaming and pan-frying the leaves. It is picked in early spring, and has a pleasant strong grassy flavor. Sencha can be brewed several times before the leaves are discarded.

Smoky - Characteristic taste of teas such as lapsang souchong that have been dried over open, smoky flames.

Tisane - Tea-like infusion with no actual tea plant present. "Herbal tea."

Toothy - He-Man tea. Strong and assertive, full-bodied, robust.

Vegetal - A vegetal taste is one that is pleasantly like vegetables, with a fresh and green flavor. This trait is only found in green teas. Similar to "Grassy."

White tea - Technically a type of green tea, since it is not oxidized. White tea is made from very young tea leaves and unopened buds, primarily in the Fujian region of China. The resulting infusion is very light and sometimes even clear.

Woody: A taste of grass or hay that should not be present. A grassy taste is desirable in some green teas, but "woody" designates this taste's presence where it ought not to be.


jasmine said...

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