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Tea Glossary

Afternoon Tea
Refers to a British meal taken mid afternoon, comprising of sandwiches, scones, and pastries accompanied by tea. The 7th Duchess of Bed ford is believed to have started the traditional afternoon tea in the early in the 19th century.

Autumnal
Teas harvested in autumn. The term is typically associated with teas from India and Formosa.

Assam
A region in northeastern India.  Currently the single largest tea growing estate in the world.

Basket-fired
Japanese tea that has been cured in baskets by firing or drying.

Billy tea
Tea made by Australian bushmen in billy cans.

Black tea
Tea that has been fired or dried after the fermentation or Oxidation period of manufacture.

Blend
Tea taster who decides on the proportions of each different tea required to produce the flavor of a given blend.

Brick tea
Common grades of Chinese and Japananes tea mixed with stalk and dust and molded into bricks under high pressure. Originally these bricks were used by Asian travelers as convenient way to transport the tea. Tea bricks were also used to barter for trade goods

Caddy
The name given to a tin or jar of tea, which takes its name from the Chinese or Malayan word 'catty'- a term used to describe the weigh of one pound of tea. In the past, tea caddies were equipped with a lock and key.

Camellia sinensis
Botanical name given to the tea bush.

Caravan tea
Tea taken by camel from China to Russia before modern transportation.

Ceylon
Former name of Sri Lanka.

Cha
The word for tea derived from the Chinese language.

Chanoyu
Japanese tea ceremony or ritual.

Chest
Original tea packaging from plantation.  Normally made of wood and lined with metal foil.

Chunmee
Chinese green tea, said to resemble the shape of human eyebrows.

Cloning
Cuttings 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.

Congou
A general term used to describe all Chinese black teas regardless of the area in which they are grown and made.

Darjeeling
A province in Northern India that produces world renound black teas.

Dimbula
A district in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) that produces full bodied black teas.

Earl Grey
A black tea treated with the oil of bergamot which gives the tea a scented aroma and taste.

Estate
A tea growing property that may include more than one garden under the same manger ship or ownership. In past tea estates where known as plantations.

English Breakfast Tea
A name for the tea blend which originally applied to China Congou tea in the United States.  In Britain, it was associated with a blend of teas from India and Sri Lanka; today it is used to include blends of black teas producing a full-bodied strong flavored colorful tea regardless of origin.

Flush
Refers 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.

Grade
Term used to describe a tea leaf or particle size of leaf.

Green Tea
Tea that is withered immediately, and often steamed and/or fired before oxidation can begin.

Gunpowder
Normally a Chinese tea, but today could be any young tea which is rolled into smaller pellet size balled and then dried.  The finished tea has a greyish appearance not unlike gunpowder in color which is how tea gets its name.

Gyokuro
A high grade Japanese tea a produced by a special process in the Uji district of japan. It is made from tea grown on shaded bushes which increase chlorophyll content.

Herbal Infusion
Often referred to as "herbal tea" or "herbal tisane".  These teas are mixtures of herbs and do not contain any "tea" leaves.

High tea
The name given to a meal served late afternoon to early evening which is a mixture of afternoon tea and dinner.  The meal comprises of a main entree dish sometimes a pudding or desert served with bread and butter, cakes and teas.  High tea was the main meal of farming and working class of Britain in the past.

Hyson
A type of Chinese green tea meaning "flourishing spring".  Young Hyson is this type of tea which is plucked early.

Infusion
The 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.

Jat
Type of tea brush normally applied to its origin. For example a tea comes from the China or Indian Jat. This means that the tea bushes originated either from seeds or cuttings from China tea plants or from the indigenous tea found in Assam.

Kandy
A city in Sri Lanka (formally Ceylon).  Medium grown at altitudes between 2000 ft and 4000 ft above sea level. Teas from Kandy are often used for blending purposes.

Keemum
A fine grade of black leaf China Congou tea produced in the Anhui province.

Kenya
A country in Africa that produces fine black teas.

Lapsang Souchong
A Chinese tea that is dried over smoking pine needles.

Malawi
African tea producer whose teas are mainly used for blending purposes as they are colory with good flavor.

Matcha
Powdered green tea from Japan used in the Japanese tea ceremony.

Meat Tea
Another term for High tea.

Nilgiri
A district in the hills of southern India that produces excellent black teas.

Nuwarah Eliyah
A Ceylon tea, high mountain grown at altitudes above 4000 ft sea level. The tea is light with full flavor.

Oolong Tea
Partially oxidized tea leaves produced in China and most often Taiwan (formally called Formosa).

Pan-Fired
A kind of Japanese tea that is steamed then rolled in iron cauldrons over charcoal fires.

Pekoe Souchong
The third leaf from the tip.  Larger and more course than the newer shoots.

Pouchong
A kind of scented Chinese or Formosan tea derived from the Cantonese method of packing tea in smaller paper packets each of which was supposed to be the product of one tea plant.

Pruning
Selectively cutting back of the tea brush, so that it maintains its shape and help increase yield.

Rooibos
Harvested in the wilds of South Africa.  This herb boast many healing properties.

Russian tea
The name given to a hot tea poured into a glass over a slice of lemon.  Sometimes sugar or honey are added.  

Rwanda
An African tea producer, whose tea are used for blending purposes. Rwanda tea has a bright coppery color and brisk taste.

Scented tea
Green semi fermented or black teas that have been flavored by adding flower petals, fruits spices and/or natural oils.  Examples of these are Jasmine tea, Rose Pouchong, Orange tea, Cinnamon tea or Earl Grey.

Semi-Fermented tea
Tea that has been partially oxidized before being fired and dried.  Most often referred to as Oolong tea, it has the qualities and appearance somewhere in between a green tea and a black tea.  Often yielding a citrus or fruity flavor depending on the masters craft and skill.

Sencha
The most popular variety of green tea in Japan. A beverage to be consumed daily.

Single Estate Tea
A blend of teas from one particular estate, plantation, or garden.

Smoky tea
Black tea from China and Formosa that has been smoked over a wood fire such as Lapsang Souchong.

Specialty tea
A blend of teas that takes its name from the area in which it is grown; a blend of teas blended for a particular person or event or a blend of teas for a particular time of the day.

Souchong
A large leaf black tea. Originated in China, Souchong tea was made from a small bush whose leaves were allowed to develop to a large size.

Tannin
The name the tea industry uses for polyphenols contained in tea and are largely responsible for the pungency of some types of teas.

Tarry
The smoky aroma and taste associated with a smoked black tea such as Lapsang Souchong.

Tea Caddy
A term used to describe a container used for storing tea.  Often decorated with gold and fine jewels and kept under lock and key.

Tea tree
A tea bush or plant which has been allowed to return to its wild state and grow back into a tree.

Tea taster
An expert judge of leaf and cup quality tea at all stages of production, brokerage blending and final packaging.

Tip
Used to describes the ends of leaves on a tea bush.

Tippy Teas
Teas which contain a large portion of tips and denoted as TFOP or TGFOP for teas originating from India.

Tisane
Dried herbs or fruits are infused in water and often called "Herbal Tea".  Because Tea leaves from the Camellia Sinensis plant are not used, these beverages often do not contain caffeine.

Uva
A high mountain district in Sri Lanka that produces quality teas.

Vintage
Used to describe teas from the same harvest at market.

White Tea
Rare teas of fine quality. White teas are known for their high antioxidant content and subtle flavor.

Yunnan
Yunnan Province is the most southwest region of China bordering the countries of Vietnam, Laos, and Burma

Yixing
Located near Shanghai, this city in Eastern China is world renowned for their clay teapots.

 

 

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