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Tea Terminology

    Tea Terms Describing Dry Leaf

      • BLACK:  
        A black appearance is desirable.  Preferably with “bloom”.  This term is used with Orthodox or Rotorvane manufacture.
      • BLACKISH:  
        This is satisfactory appearance for CTC and LTP manufacture teas and denotes careful sorting.
      • BLOOM:
        A “sheen” which has not been removed by over-handling or over-sorting.  A sign of good manufacture and sorting (where the reduction of leaf has taken place before firing).  
      • BOLD:  
        Particles of leaf, which are too large for the particular grade.
      • BROWN:  
        A brown appearance, with CTC and LTP manufacture, normally reflects too harsh treatment of the leaf.
      • CHESTY:  
        Inferior or unseasoned packing materials caused this taint.
      • CHOPPY:  
        Orthodox (or Rotorvane) manufacture leaf, which is cut by a “breaker” during sorting.
      • CHUNKY:  
        A very large broken leaf tea.
      • CLEAN:  
        Leaf which is free from fiber, dust, and any extraneous matter.  
      • CREPY:  
        A crimped appearance common with larger grades of broken leaf tea such as BOP.
      • CURLY:
        The leaf appearance of whole leaf grade Orthodox teas such as OP as opposed to wiry.
      • EVEN:  
        Size is true to grade and of consistent size.
      • FLAKEY:  
        Flat, open, and often light in texture.
      • GREY:  
        Caused by too much abrasion during sorting.
      • GRAINY:  
        Describes well made CTC or LTP primary grades, particularly Pekoe Dust, and Dust 1 grades.
      • LEAFY:  
        Orthodox manufacture leaf tending to be on
      • MUSTY:  
        A tea affected by mildew. the large or long side.
      • LIGHT:  
        A tea light in weight and of poor density.  Sometimes  referred to as flakey.
      • MAKE:
        A well made tea and must be true to the particular grade.
      • MUSHY:  
        A tea which has been packed or stored with a high moisture content.
      • NEAT:  
        A grade having good “make” and size.
      • NOSE:  
        Smell of the dry leaf.
      • POWDERY:  
        A fine light dust.
      • RAGGED:  
        An uneven or poorly manufactured and graded tea.
      • STALK & FIBER:  
        Should be minimal in primary or top grades, but generally acceptable in the lower grades.
      • TIP:  
        A sign of fine plucking and apparent in the top grades of Orthodox manufacture.
      • UNEVEN & MIXED:  
        “Inconsistent” pieces of leaf indicating poor sorting and untrue to the particular grade of tea.
      • WELL TWISTED:
        Applies to Orthodox manufacture.  Often referred to as “well made” or “rolled” and used to describe whole leaf grades.
      • WIRY:  
        The appearance of a well twisted, thin leaf Orthodox tea.

    Tea Terms Describing Liquors

    • AROMA:  
      Smell or scent denoting “inherent character”.
    • BISCUITY:  
      A pleasant aroma often found in a well fired Assam.
    • BRIGHT:
      A lively appearance that usually indicates a bright liquor as well.
    • COPPERY:
      Bright leaf which indicates a well manufactured tea.
    • DULL:  
      lack brightness and usually denotes a poor quality tea.  Can be due to faulty manufacture and firing, or a high moisture content.
    • DARK:  
      A dark or dull color, which indicates a poor quality leaf.
    • GREEN:  
      Caused by under fermentation, or characteristic of leaf from immature tea bushes (liquors are often raw or light).  Can also be caused by poor rolling with Orthodox teas.
    • MIXED or UNEVEN:
      Tea leaves of varying color.
    • TARRY:  
      A smoky aroma.

     

    Tea Terms Describing Infused Leaf

      • BAGGY:  
        A “taint” normally resulting from unlined hessian bags.
      • BODY:  
        A liquor having both fullness and strength, as opposed to being thin.
      • BAKEY:  
        A over-fired tea in which too much moisture has been driven off.
      • BRIGHT:  
        Denotes a lively fresh tea with good keeping quality.
      • BRISK:  
        The most “live” characteristic resulting from good manufacture.
      • BURNT:  
        Extreme over-firing.
      • CHARACTER:
        An attractive taste when describing better high elevation growth, and peculiar to origin.
      • COLORY:  
        Indicates depth of color and strength.
      • COURSE:  
        Fiber content
      • COMMON:  
        A very plain tea, light and thin liquor with no distinct flavor.
      • CREAM:  
        A precipitate obtained after cooling.
      • DRY:  
        Indicates slight over-firing.
      • DULL:
        Not clear and lacking any brightness or briskness.
      • EARTHY:  
        Normally caused by damp storage.  A taste that can be “climatically inherent”  in leaf from certain origins.
      • FLAT:
         Not fresh (usually due to age)
      • FLAVOR:  
        A most desirable extension of “character” caused by slow growth at high elevations and rarity.
      • FULL:
        A good combination of strength and color.
      • FRUITY:  
        Can be due to over-oxidization or bacterial infection before firing delivering an overly ripe taste.
      • GONE OFF:  
        A flat or old tea.  Often denotes a high moisture content.
      • GREEN:  
        An immature “raw” character.  Often due to under fermentation (and sometimes under-withered).
      • HARD:
        A very pungent liquor.
      • HARSH:  
        A taste generally related to under-withered leaf and very rough.
      • HEAVY:  
        A thick, strong and coloury liquor with limited briskness.
      • HIGH-FIRED:
        Over-fired but not bakey or burnt.
      • LIGHT:
        Lacking strength and any depth of color.
      • MATURE:
        Not bitter or flat.
      • METALLIC:  
        A sharp colory flavor.
      • MUDDY:  
        A dull opaque liquor.
      • POINT:  
        A bright, acidic and penetrating characteristic.
      • PLAIN:  
        A liquor which is “clean”  but lacking in the desirable characteristics.
      • PUNGENT:  
        Astringent with a good combination of briskness, brightness, and strength.  Often reserved for the best quality Assam and Ceylon teas.
      • QUALITY:          
        Refers to “cup quality” and denotes a combination of the most desirable liquoring properties.
      • RASPING:  
        A very course and harsh liquor.
      • RAW:  
        A bitter unpleasant liquor.
      • SMOKEY:
        Mainly caused by leaks around the dryer heating tubes.
      • SOFT:
        The opposite of briskness and lacking any “live” characteristics.
      • STRENGTH:  
        Substance in cup.
      • STEWED:  
        A soft liquor with an undesirable taste caused by faulty firing at low temperatures and often insufficient air flow.
      • TAINTS:  
        Characteristics or tastes which are “foreign” to tea.  Such as petrol, garlic, ect. Often due to being stored next to other commodities with strong characteristics of their own.
      • THIN:
        An insipid light liquor which lacks any desirable characteristics.
      • WEEDY:  
        A grass or hay taste related to under-withering.  Sometimes referred to as woody.