tea taster, vocabulary, terminology, tea
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Tea Tasters Vocabulary below

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Reprinted by permission from The Tea Companion: A Connoisseur's Guide by Jane Pettigrew, Running Press, $18.95 U.S.  ©2004   This is copyrighted property and may not be re-printed or used in any manner without proper authority from the publisher.  




Tea Tasters' Vocabulary

©2004 The Tea Companion: A Connoisseur's Guide by Jane Pettigrew, Running Press

Tasters and blenders have a vocabulary of some hundred words to describe appearance and flavor.  The most common are:


body a tea with body has a strong liquor not a thin, weak one


bold big pieces of leaf


brassy refers to a liquor with a bitter taste


bright a bright liquor; not dull in appearance


brisk a lively taste, a well-fermented, well-fired tea


choppy leaf that has been chopped in a breaker or cutter rather than rolled


coarse a liquor that has strength but poor quality


colory special category teas with good colored liquor


dull the opposite of bright, and not a desirable quality


even leaf pieces of roughly the same size


flaky leaf that is in flakes rather than twisted pieces


flat a tea that has gone off, has too much moisture


flavory with a distinctive taste


grainy denotes well-made fannings or dusts


gray gray-colored leaf resulting from over-cutting or because the desirable coating of juices on the leaf has been rubbed off due to over-handling during the sifting stage

greenish an infusion with a bright green color; not desirable, due to under-rolling or under-fermentation


harsh a bitter, raw taste with little strength


irregular  uneven-size pieces of leaf


malty with a hint of malt, found in well-made teas


mellow the opposite of greenish, harsh, etc.


point leaf with desirable briskness


plain lacking in desirable qualities


pungent astringent without being bitter


ragged uneven and irregular pieces of leaf


smooth with a pleasant, rounded taste


tainted unpleasant flavor caused by chemicals used in cultivation, or by damp conditions, or by pollution during transportation, etc.


thin a tea with little strength due to hard withering, under-rolling, or too high a temperature during rolling


tip the very end of the delicate young buds that give golden flecks to the processed leaf


wiry well-twisted leaf, as opposed to open pieces






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