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.
        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.



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