Monday, April 8, 2013

Tea Terms

If you’re like me, you’ve been trying many different kinds of teas for some time now.  At first, differentiating between them may have been as simple as “black tea, green tea, hibiscus flavor, etc...”  As I’ve become more educated and so much more discerning, it’s been more challenging to describe tea.  Thankfully, there is actually a tea language so to speak, or rather, the tea tasters’ terminology.  Here are a few basics to help you navigate the tea world.  This abbreviated list, far from complete, has been compiled from a several different sources including The Tea Association of the USA.

Aroma  -  smell or fragrance.
Astringency  -  drying sensation in mouth caused by tannins in the tea.
Bakey   -  unpleasant taste due to over-fired tea leaves during drying process. 
Biscuity  -  pleasant baked aroma due to skillfully fired tea leaves during drying process. 
Body  -  strength and fullness of flavor, ranging from wispy, light, medium or full. 
Brassy  unpleasant, strong and bitter aftertaste. 
Bright  -  sparkling liquor color and vibrant fresh taste. 
Brisk  -  lively and pleasant taste, as opposed to flat or soft. 
Character  -  attribute of the tea based on place of origin. 
Clean  -  free of fiber, dust and any extraneous matter and free of character. 
Coppery  -  the color of copper, indicating a good quality tea liquor. 
Earthy  -  aroma or flavor of grass or soil. 
Grassy  -  raw, hay-like flavor. 
Finish  -  flavors that linger in the mouth. 
Flat  -  tea lacking astringency or briskness. 
Full-bodied  -  tea rich in flavor, intense in aroma, and pleasant in color. 
Hard  -  a strong and astringent tea. 
Liquor  -  brewed tea liquid. 
Malty  -  sweet barley aroma or flavor found in certain Assams. 
Muscatel  -  grape or fruit flavor found in certain Darjeelings. 
Pungent  -  astringent with a good mix of briskness, brightness, and strength. 
Smooth  -  tea without astringency that is full-bodied and pleasant. 
Soft  -  smooth and subdued flavor. 
Tarry  smoky aroma or flavor found in Lapsang Souchong teas.

Wondering what to do with your tea terminology? You might consider keeping a tea journal to document your experiences. It's a great way to broaden your knowledge and to be able to compare different teas without having them side-by-side.  Her's a template my sister and I like to use. It's available for your use at this link: Tea Dreams Tasting Template.

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