Tea Facts ... glossary


Aroma - Smell or scent denoting 'inherent character' usually in tea grown at high altitudes.

Baggy - An unpleasant taste, normally resulting from the tea being carried or wrapped in unlined hessian bags.

Bakey - An over-fired tea with the result that too much moisture has been driven off the leaf while drying.

Biscuity - A pleasant aroma often found in well-fired Assam.

Bitter - An unpleasant taste associated with raw teas.

Black -A black appearance is desirable preferably with 'bloom'.

Blackish - A satisfactory appearance for CTC type teas. Denotes careful sorting.

Bloom - A sign of good manufacture and sorting (where reduction of leaf has taken place before firing) a 'sheen' that has not been lost through over-handling or over-sorting.

Body - A liquor having both fullness and strength as opposed to being thin.

Bold -Particles of leaf which are too large for the particular grade.

Brassy - Unpleasant metallic quality similar to brass. Usually associated with unwithered tea.

Bright - A lively bright appearance, which usually indicates that the tea will produce a bright liquor.

Brisk - The most 'live' characteristic. Results from good manufacture.

Brown - A brown appearance in CTC type teas that normally indicates overly harsh treatment of leaf.

Burned - Taint caused by extreme over drying during manufacture.

Character - An attractive taste, specific to growth origin describing teas grown at high altitude.

Chesty - Tea tainted by inferior or unseasoned packing materials.

Chunky - A very large broken-leaf tea.

Clean - Leaf that is free from fiber, dirt and all extraneous matter.

Coarse - A tea producing a harsh undesirable liquor with taste to match.

Coloury - Indicates useful depth of color and strength.

Common - A very plain light and thin liquor with no distinct favor.

Coppery - Bright leaf that indicates a well manufactured or make of tea.

Cream - A natural precipitate obtained as the liquor cools down.

Crepy - Leaf with a crimped appearance common to larger grade broken-leaf teas such as BOP.

Curly - Leaf appearance of whole leaf grade teas such as OP, as distinct from 'wiry'.

Dark - A dark or dull color that usually indicates poorer leaf quality.

Dry - Indicates slight over-firing or drying during manufacture.

Dull - Lacks brightness and usually denotes poor tea. Can be due to faulty making (manufacture) and firing or a high moisture content.

Earthy - Normally caused by damp storage of tea but can also describe a taste that is sometimes 'climatically inherent' in teas from certain regions.

Empty - A liquor lacking fullness. No substance.

Even - Teas true to their grade, consisting of pieces of leaf of fairly even size.

Flaky - Flat open pieces of leaf often light in texture.

Flat - Not fresh, usually due to age Tea tends to lose its characteristics and taste with age, unlike some wines which mature with age.

Favor - A most desirable extension of character caused by slow growth at high altitudes. Relatively rare.

Fruity - Can be due to overfermenting during manufacture and/or bacterial infection before firing or drying, which gives the tea an over ripe taste. Unlike wines this is not a desirable taste in tea.

Full - A good combination of strength and color Gone off A flat or old tea. Often denotes a high moisture content.

Green - When referring to black tea it means the leaf has been underfermented or alternatively it can be leaf plucked from immature bushes and will often , when steeped, result in a raw or light liquor. Can also be caused by poor rolling during making or manufacture.

Grey - Caused by too much abrasion during sorting.

Grainy - Describes primary grades of well-made CTC teas such as Pekoe dust.

Hard - A very pungent liquor, a desirable quality in tea.

Harsh - A taste generally due to the leaf being under withered during manufacture resulting in a very rough taste.

Heavy - A thick, strong and colored liquor with limited briskness.

High - Fired -Over fired or dried, but not bakey or burned.

Leafy - A tea which the tea tends to be on the large or longish size.

Lacking - Describes a neutral liquor with no body or pronounced characteristics.

Light - Lacking strength and depth of color or light in weight of poor density and sometimes flaky.

Make - Used to describe tea manufacture, in tea-taster's terms a make that means a well-made tea or not true to its grade.

Malty - Desirable character in some Assam teas. A full, bright tea with a malty taste.

Mature - Not bitter or flat.

Metallic - A sharp coppery taste.

Mixed - Uneven Leaf of varying color

Muddy - A dull, opaque liquor.

Muscatel - Desirable character in Darjeeling teas. A grape taste.

Mushy - Tea that has been packed or stored with a high moisture content.

Musty - A suspicion of mold.

Neat - A grade of tea having good make and size.

Nose - Smell of the dry leaf.

Plain - A liquor that is 'clean' but lacking in desirable characteristics.

Point - A bright, acidic and penetrating characteristic.

Powdery - Fine light dust as the tea people say meaning a very fine light leaf particle.

Pungent - Astringent with a good combination of briskness, brightness and strength.

Quality - Refers to 'cup quality' and denotes a combination of the most desirable liquoring qualities.

Ragged - An uneven badly manufactured and graded tea.

Rasping - A very coarse and harsh liquor.

Raw - A bitter, unpleasant taste.

Soft - The opposite of briskness. Tea lacking any 'live' characteristics and is caused by inefficient fermentation and/or drying.

Stalk and Fiber - Bits of tea bush other than the leaf which should be minimal in superior grades but are unavoidable in lower-grade teas.

Stewed - A soft liquor with undesirable taste that lacks point. Caused by faulty firing, or drying, at low temperatures and often with insufficient airflow through the oven during tea manufacture or making.

Strength - Substance in cup.

Sweaty - Disagreeable taste. Poor tea.

Taint - Characteristic or taste that is foreign to tea such as oil, garlic etc. Often due to the tea being stored next to other commodities with strong characteristics of their own.

Tarry - A smoky aroma which should not be there unless a Lapsang Souchong tea.

Thick - Liquor with good color and strength.

Thin - An insipid light liquor that lacks desirable characteristics.

Tip - A sign of fine plucking apparent in top grades of tea.

Uneven and Mixed - 'Uneven' pieces of leaf particles indicating poor sorting and resulting in a tea not true to a particular grade.

Weedy - A grass or hay taste associated with teas that have been under withered during manufacture and sometimes referred to as 'woody'.

Well Twisted - Used to describe whole-leaf Orthodox tea grades, often referred to as well 'made' or 'rolled'.

Wiry - Leaf appearance of a well-twisted, thin, long leaf.





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