Sometimes we in the tea industry use terminology that is hard to follow. Use our handy definition chart to solve that problem.
Professional Tasters’ Lexicon:
- Bloom: sheen or luster on black leaf.
- Bold: large leaf or sometimes pieces of leaf too big for a grade, outsized.
- Chesty: resinous odor/taste imparted by uncured wood in tea chest.
- Common: poor quality.
- Dull: leaf without sheen, i.e., “bloom.”
- Flaky: poorly made leaf that’s flat and easily broken; nonpejoratively, small grades.
- Shotty: well-made Gunpowder; sometimes also applied to Souchong.
- Tippy: generous amounts of white or golden tip, i.e., budding leaf.
- Well-twisted: fully withered, tightly rolled leaf.
- Wiry: stylish, thin whole leaves; quite often OP grade.
- Agony of the leaves: unfolding of the leaves in boiling water.
- Bakey: unpleasant taste caused by firing leaf at too high a temperature; not as strong as “burnt.
- Biscuity: pleasant characteristic often associated with Assam teas.
- Bite: not a taste but the astringent puckeriness that gives Black Tea its refreshing quality.
- Body: viscosity, the strength of the liquor combined with its weight on the tongue; body may be “full,” “light,” etc.
- Brassy: unpleasant tang caused by under-withering.
- Bright: sparkling liquor characteristic of all fine teas; also describes taste opposite of “dull.”
- Brisk: lively, not flat.
- Complex: the harmonious melange of various flavors characteristic of the very finest teas.
- Dull: muddy looking liquor, the opposite of “bright”; “flat” tasting.
- Flat: soft, rather flabby-bodied tea lacking “bite” and “briskness.”
- Fruity: piquant quality, characteristic of good Oolongs, some Keemuns, etc.
- Gone off: tea that’s been spoiled by improper storage or packing or is simply past its prime and stale.
- Malty: a subtle underlying flavor often characteristic of Assam.
- Peak: the high point of the tasting experience when, some instants after the liquor enters the mouth, its body, flavor, and astringency make themselves fully felt. Greens and Oolongs do not peak but stand immediately and fully revealed.
- Pointy: a liquor is said to “have point” if it shows some desirable property – for example, briskness or fine fragrance.
- Pungent: astringent; what gives a tea its “bite.”
- Self-drinking: any tea with sufficient aroma, flavor, body, and color to stand alone and in no need of blending or the addition of milk and / or sugar for improvement.
- Stewed or stewy: poorly fired tea giving soft liquor without “point”; also used of tea that’s brewed too long and has become bitter.
- Tarry: the smoky flavor associated with Lapsang Souchong.
- Thin: lacking body and/or color.
- Weedy: may be applied to thin, cabbagy Black Teas; non-pejoratively, a Green Tea may be called weedy if it has a not-unpleasant vegetative aroma and flavor, varying from simple “herbaceousness” to scents of new-mown hay.
- Winey: usually descriptive of a mellow quality fine Darjeelings or Keemuns acquire with six months to a year or more of age; more rarely used to describe overfermented tea.