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Tea Glossary

In the this tea glossary you will find a comprehensive list of terms and concepts explained in an easy to understand manner. These definitions and concepts will help you understand some of the phrases used in the tea culture, and grow your knowledge of tea in general!

Dictionary Definition of Tea:
The dried and prepared leaves of a shrub, Camellia sinensis, from which a somewhat bitter, aromatic beverage is prepared by infusion in hot water.

Afternoon TeaA British meal eaten in mid afternoon, consisting of sandwiches, scones,and pastries accompanied by tea. Agony of the leavesThe unfurling of tea leaves during steeping.
AnhuiA major tea producing province in China. AntioxidantA compound which slows oxidation.
AromaAlso known as the nose, the smell of the brewed leaf and the resulting liquor. AssamA major tea growing region in India. These black teas are known for their strong malty flavor.
AstringencyThe drying sensation in the mouth due to high levels of unoxidized polyphenols in a tea. AutumnalTeas harvested in autumn. The term is typically associated with teas from India and Formosa.
BakeyA term describing over-fired teas Basket-firedJapanese tea that has been cured in baskets by firing or drying.
BergamotAn essential oil derived from the bergamot orange which is used to flavor tea. Most often associated with Earl Grey tea. Billy teaTea made by Australian bushmen in billy cans.
BiscuityTea taster's expression, often used with Assam teas that have been fired well Black TeaThe most oxidized of leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant.
BlendMixture of teas, usually to promote consistency between growing seasons BloomA term describing the sheen of the tea leaf.
BodyTea taster's term to denote a full strength brew Boldlarge leaf cut tea
BrassyUnpleasant acidic bite from improperly withered tea BreakAuction term referring to a lot for sale, usually 18 chests or more.
Brick TeaTea leaves that have been steamed and compressed into bricks. Pu-erh is a common brick tea. BrightA term describing a light-colored leaf or its resulting bright red brew.
BriskA term describing a tea that is very astringent. BrokenSmaller leaf style usually created during manufacture by passing the leaf through a cutter
CaddyThe name given to a tin or jar of tea. CaffeineA stimulating compound found in tea.
Cambric teaA very weak tea infusion with a large amount of milk and sugar Camellia sinensisBotanical name of the tea bush.
Caravan teaTea taken by camel from China to Russia before modern transportation. CatechinThe class of polyphenol found in tea.
CeylonFormer name of Sri Lanka. ChaThe Chinese word for tea.
ChaiThe word for tea on the Indian subcontinent. In the west it generally means a spiced black tea made with milk (masala chai). ChanoyuJapanese tea ceremony or ritual.
ChestTraditional container made of wood with a metal lining used to ship tea from tea estates. ChestyA term denoting an odor in tea absorbed from the wood of a traditional storage chest.
ChunmeeA grade of curled Chinese tea. CloningCuttings taken from old tea bushes which are allowed to root and then are planted to produce new tea bushes. Many tea bushes are grown from clones or cuttings taken from older bushes.
CongouA general term for Chinese black tea, derived from gong-fu, defined below. CopperyA term describing a reddish infusion, associated with black teas of high quality.
CTCAn acronym for Crush, Tear, and Curl, a manufacturing process to create tea leaves that impart a stronger infusion. DarjeelingTea grown in the Darjeeling region of India, near the Himalayas. Darjeeling teas are usually highly astringent.
DhoolA term describing the coppery, fermenting tea leaf. DimbulaA district in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) that produces full bodied black teas.
Display TeaA tea that has a special appearance once steeped, such as flowering teas, or Jasmine Pearls. DustThe smallest grade of tea, often used in tea bags because it creates a quick infusion.
Earl GreyA Black Tea blend flavored with Bergamot Oil. English Breakfast TeaA tea blend producing a full-bodied, strong flavored, colorful tea.
EstateA tea growing property. In past tea estates where known as plantations. FanningsSmall particles of tea one grade larger than Dust produced as a by product of the tea making process.
FermentationThe process of oxidizing green tea leaves to make black and oolong teas. FibrousA term describing teas that contain a high percentage of fannings.
FiringThe process of rapidly heating the tea leaves, with hot air or in a wok, to stop fermentation and dry the leaves for a finished product. FlatA term describing teas that lack astringency.
FloweryA grading term that indicates leaves with light-colored tips. FlushRefers to the timing of the tea harvest. "first flush" is the early spring plucking of new shoots. "second flush" is harvested late spring through early summer, yielding more body and full flavor. Autumnal flush is the late season harvest.
FormosaTea produced in Taiwan, typically oolong teas FullStrong tea without bitterness and possessing good color
GaiwanA traditional Chinese lidded tea drinking vessel with accompanying saucer. GenmaichaGreen tea with toasted rice.
GoldenRefers to the orange colored tips present in high quality black tea Gong fuA Chinese term meaning performed with care; describes a style of brewing that involves many repeated short infusions in a small pot.
GradeTerm used to describe a tea leaf or particle size of leaf. GrainyA term describing high quality CTC teas.
Green TeaTea that is withered immediately, and often steamed and/or fired before oxidation can begin. GunpowderGreen tea that has been rolled into pellets, which unfurl in hot water to brew.
GyokuroJapanese green tea produced from shaded plants. "Pearl Dew" HardA term describing pungent tea, associated with Assam teas.
HarshA term describing bitter teas. HeavyA term describing a full, deep-colored infusion without astringency.
Herbal InfusionOften referred to as "herbal tea" or "herbal tisane". These teas are blends of herbs and most often do not contain any "tea" leaves. High teaA meal served late afternoon to early evening which is a mixture of afternoon tea and dinner.
HysonA type of Chinese green tea meaning "flourishing spring". Young Hyson is this type of tea which is plucked early. Iced TeaTea brewed and served chilled
InfusionThe process of extracting elements from tea, herbs, fruits or berries by submersing in boiling water. This process is often used for obtaining medicinal properties from herbs. JasmineTea scented with jasmine flowers.
KeemunBlack tea from central China, typically hand-rolled and fired. KenyaA country in Africa that produces fine black teas.
Lapsang souchongA Chinese black tea that is fired over a pinewood fire for a characteristically smoky aroma and flavor. LightA term describing tea that produces a weak infusion.
MaltyA term describing slightly over-fired tea. MatchaPowdered green tea from Japan used in the Japanese tea ceremony.
Meat TeaAnother term for High tea. MetallicA term describing the dry, coppery taste of some teas.
MuddyA term describing a dull, brownish infusion MuscatelA muscat grape like taste associated with many Darjeeling Teas.
NilgiriA district in the hills of southern India that produces excellent black teas. NoseThe aroma of brewed tea.
Oolong TeaA 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 PekoeReferring to size of leaf, not quality or flavor, this term indicates a larger-size grade of whole leaf teas.
OrthodoxTraditional method for picking and processing teas in India without using CTC technology. Pan-firedA term describing that has been fired in a wok.
PekoeA term used to describe the largest leaves used to produce whole leaf teas. Also refers to an un-distinctive blend of tea. Pekoe SouchongThe third leaf from the tip. Larger and more course than the newer shoots.
PlainA term describing a dull, sour infusion. PluckingThe process of harvesting and collecting tea leaves.
PolyphenolsAstringent compounds found in tea. PouchongA scented Chinese or Formosan tea derived from a method of packing tea in smaller paper packets, and each is supposed to be the product of one tea plant.
PruningThe trimming back of the tea brush, to maintains its shape and help increase yield. Pu-erh TeaA type of black tea that has been fermented. These teas are known for aging quite well. Also known as the "diet tea" for it's body cleansing properties.
PungentA term describing highly astringent tea. RawA term describing bitter tea.
RollingThe process where withered leaves are rolled to initiate oxidation and impart twisting in the leaf. RooibosA popular South African tea that shares many of the health properties of Tea, but contains no caffeine.
Russian teaA hot tea poured into a glass over a slice of lemon. Scented teaTeas that have been flavored by adding flower petals, fruits spices and/or natural oils.
Self-drinkingA term describing full-bodied tea that does not need to be blended. Semi-Fermented teaTea that has been partially oxidized before being fired and dried. Most often referred to as Oolong tea.
SenchaThe most popular variety of green tea in Japan. A beverage to be consumed daily. Single Estate TeaA tea from one particular estate, plantation, or garden.
SmokyA term describing teas fired over an open fire, resulting in exposure to wood smoke. SoftA term describing under fermented tea.
SouchongLarge leaf teas harvested from the third and fourth leaf of the tea plant. StalkA term describing teas that contain pieces of stalk from poor plucking.
TanninA term referring to the astringent polyphenols of tea, producing a bitter flavor. TarryThe smoky aroma and taste associated with a smoked tea.
TatA wire mesh or burlap apparatus used to lay the leaves out for withering and fermentation Tea tasterAn expert judge of leaf and cup quality tea at all stages of production, brokerage blending and final packaging.
Tea treeA tea bush or plant which has been allowed to grow back into a tree. TheaflavinsPolyphenols unique to fermented black teas, a compound formed from catechins.
TheanineAn amino acid unique to tea. TheineA synonym for caffeine.
TippyA term describing teas with white or golden tips, indicating high quality TisaneAn infused beverage made with plants other than Camellia sinensis.
TuochaChinese for bowl tea. A common shape for pu-erh teas. Two and a budThe ideal plucked tea for production, consisting of the new tea shoot and the first two leaves
VintageUsed to describe teas from the same harvest at market. White TeaRare teas of fine quality. White teas are known for their high antioxidant content and subtle flavor.
WineyA term describing aged, mellow teas, as with some Keemun teas. WitheringThe first step in production of most teas. Involves letting the fresh leaves wither for some period of time after plucking to reduce moisture content.
WoodyA term describing an unpleasant hay taste in black tea. YixingPronounced Yee-shing, a region in China known for its purple clay, and the unglazed teapots produced from it.
YunnanA province in southwestern China
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