Drink Tea!

A-C D-F G-I J-L M-O P-R S-V W-Z Terms Tea Grades Back

-  A Glossary of Tea Terminology  -

Name

Is a ...

Explanation

Afternoon tea

-

light meal served around 4pm with tea

Assam

Location

Bengal NE India; a strong tea

Assamica

Variety

of Camellia

Astringency

Taste

sharp dry taste caused by unoxidized polyphenols

Autumnal

Leaf type

harvested in autumn

Baggy

Taste

poor taste due to inferior hessian sacks

Bancha

Variety

Japanese green tea

Basket-Fired

Process

for Japanese green teas

Bergamot

-

small tree with pear-shaped fruit, whose rind produces essence used in some teas; also a type of mint with similar essence

Billy

Accessory

Australian term; tin container suspended over fire to boil water for tea

Billycan

Accessory

Australian term; tin container suspended over fire to boil water for tea

Biscuity

Taste

a particular aroma of infused leaf; good

Black

Process

fully fermented

Black

Leaf colour

desirable leaf appearance

Black Dragon

Process

another name for Oolong

Blend

Process

mixture of teas, usually to produce a consistent taste over the seasons

Bloom

Quality

leaf appearance; bloom or sheen; a good sign

Bloomfield

Location

Darjeeling tea garden

Body

Taste

good taste; full and strong

Bohea

Leaf type

stalks

Bold

Quality

some leaves too big for the grade

BOP

-

see Broken, Orange & Pekoe

Brassy

Taste

poor taste; metallic

Brew (verb)

Process

of making tea into a drink by adding boiling water

Brew (noun)

-

British slang for tea drink

Brick

Process

old leaves, stems & twigs made into blocks

Bright

Quality

a particular appearance of liquor; usually good

Bright

Taste

fresh and lively taste; slightly astringent; good

Brisk

Taste

fresh and lively taste; slightly astringent; good

Broken

Leaf type

smaller or broken leaves

Brown

Leaf colour

a bad sign

Burned

Taste

poor taste from over-firing

Cachar

Location

N India; medium strength; most common variety

Caffeine

Constituent

chemical responsible for stimulant effect of tea

Cardamon

Blend

contains cardamon

Castleton

Location

Darjeeling tea garden

Camellia

Species

botanical name of tea bush

Caravan

Blend

Keemun & Oolong

Celebration

Blend

 

Ceremony

Process

location, process & preparation of Japanese ceremonial tea

Ceylon

Location

old name of Sri Lanka

Chai

-

(or any spelling with similar sound) word for tea in India; always with milk and very sweet

Char

-

British slang for tea drink

Character

Taste

good taste; characteristic of its origin

Chest

Accessory

Clasic container used to ship bulk tea; made of thin plywood with tin edges

Chesty

Taste

taint from poor packaging

China

Location

May be green or any other kind of tea

Ching Wo

Location

China; strong black teas

Choice

Quality

Oolong only: the best.  Japanese green only: very good

Choicest

Quality

Japanese green only: almost the best

Chunky

Leaf type

very large broken leaves

Chunmee

Location

China; sweet green tea, rolled leaves

Classic

Blend

 

Clean

Quality

leaf free from all dust, stalks and other bits

Congou

Location

any of several China teas; N China Congou very high quality

Coarse

Taste

strong but unpleasant taste

Common

Taste

light and non-distinctive taste

Coppery

Quality

brght appearance of infused leaf; good

Cream

-

precipitate of cooled tea

Cream tea

-

afternoon tea with the emphasis on dairy cream, often clotted cream on scones with jam

Crepy

Leaf type

leaf with crimped appearance

Crown

Blend

 

CTC

Process

machine used after drying; Cut, Tear & Curl; affects taste

Curling

Process

another name for rolling

Curly

Leaf type

whole, or almost whole, curled leaves

Darjeeling

Location

Himalayan NE India; a delicate tea, considered the best

Dark

Quality

infused leaf is not bright; poor

Decaffeinate

Process

removal of caffeine via solvents

Dickoya

Location

Sri Lanka; medium strength tea

Dimbula

Location

in Sri Lanka; a high grown tea

Dong Yang Dong Bai

Variety

a high quality China tea

Dooars

Location

N India; medium strength tea

Dragonmoon

Blend

Darjeeling and Assam

Dry

Taste

slightly over-fired; bad

Drying

Process

drying of fermented leaves

Dull

Quality

liquor is not bright; poor

Dust

Leaf size

smallest leaf pieces used

Earl Grey

Blend

contains bergamot essence with China & Darjeeling

Earthy

Taste

taste resulting from damp storage; bad

Earthy

Taste

characteristic taste of tea from certain regions

Empty

Taste

weak and tasteless; bad

English Breakfast

Blend

strong; usually Indian & Ceylon teas

English Afternoon

Blend

delicate; mostly Ceylon teas

Estate

Location

property containing a number of gardens; except in Ceylon where it means 'garden'

Even

Quality

leaves are all correct size for the grade

Extra Choicest

Quality

Japanese green only: the best

Fannings

Leaf size

small leaf pieces; usually in teabags

Fermentation

Process

oxidation of rolled leaves (not fermentation at all)

Fine

Quality

Oolong only: very good. 

Fine

Quality

Japanese green only: almost as good as Finest

Finest

Quality

Oolong only: almost the best.  Japanese green only: very good

Fine Young Hyson

Leaf type

young long green leaves rolled or twisted

Firing

Process

heating in manufacture of tea

Five O'clock

Blend

of Ceylon teas

Flaky

Leaf type

flat uncurled leaf pieces

Flat

Taste

taste of tea made from stale leaves

Flowery

Leaf colour

yellow tip or bud (ie young) leaves (China/Sumatra)

Flush

Leaf type

(1st, 2nd or 3rd) harvest from a bush during the growing season. 1st is late February to mid-April; 2nd is May & June

Formosa

Location

Taiwan

French

Blend

Chinese and Indian or Ceylon teas

Fruity

Taste

taste resulting from overfermentation; bad

Full

Taste

good strength and colour

Garden

Location

specific tea plantation

Georgian

Location

Russia (now Georgia)

Gielle

Location

Darjeeling tea garden

Golden

Leaf type

leaf-tips

Good

Quality

Oolong only: average

Grade

Leaf size

word means 'leaf size', not quality or taste

Grainy

Leaf type

applied to LTP or CTC -processed teas: good leaf appearance

Green

Process

unfermented

Green

Quality

of a fermented (black) tea - underfermented; poor

Grey

Leaf colour

poor leaves abraded during processing

Gunpowder

Leaf type

young green leaves each rolled into a tiny ball

Gunpowder

Leaf type

best grade of China green tea

Gyokuru

Variety

'Precious Dew'; Japanese green tea made by unusual process

Heavy

Taste

strong but not very good

Her Majesty's

Blend

created for Q. Victoria; India, Ceylon, Taiwan & China teas

High-fired

Quality

over-fired but not as bad as 'bakey'

High Grown

Location

above about 4000 ft above sea level

HMB

Blend

see Her Majesty's Blend

Hyson

Leaf type

older hyson (see Young Hyson)

Hyson Skin

Leaf type

very old unrolled green leaves; inferior

Iced Tea

-

stewed tea gone cold and served with ice

I-Chang

Location

China

Imperial

Leaf type

old leftover gunpowder

Imperial

Leaf type

large round rolled leaf, green, good quality

Imperial

Blend

 

Imperial Plucking

Process

Method used for the Emperor of China's tea. Cutting the bud & youngest leaf only, using gold scissors and by gloved young virgins.

Imperial Russian

Blend

of India & China teas; contains Bergamot & other citrus essences; not Russian

In-Between

Leaf type

Darjeeling between 1st and 2nd flush

Indonesia

Location

teas are similar to Sri Lanka

Infusion

Process

release of flavours after boiling water is poured on leaves

Instant

Process

tea extract reconstituted with hot water

Irish Breakfast

Blend

strong; usually Indian & Ceylon teas

Jasmine

Blend

green or black & green China teas with jasmine flowers

Java Taloon

Variety

Indonesian

Kandy

Location

in Sri Lanka; a strong tea

Keemun

Location

NE China (also Keemun Congou)

Kenya

Location

similar to Assam teas

Lacking

Taste

neutral; no strength or character

Lady Londonderry

Blend

 

Lapsang Souchong

Location

strong-flavoured black tea from China or any of several locations

Leaf

Leaf type

whole leaves

Leafy

Leaf type

large leaf pieces

Light

Leaf type

lightweight due to low density; a bad sign

Light

Taste

no strength or colour

Low Grown

Location

below about 2000 ft above sea level

LTP

Process

machine used after drying; Lawrie Tea Processor; affects taste

Luaka

Location

in Sri Lanka; a delicate tea

Lung Ching

Variety

'Dragon Well'; strong green China tea

Mainland Oolong

Location

China

Make

Quality

well-made tea true to its grade (poorly-made not true to grade)

Malty

Taste

tastes of malt; good characteristic in Assam teas

Margaret's Hope

Location

Darjeeling tea garden

Malaysia

Location

 

Matcha

Variety

Japanese green tea; always powdered

Medium Grown

Location

between low and high grown teas

Metallic

Taste

poor taste; metallic

Monkey Picked

Location

Tea generally in inacessible locations allegedly picked by trained monkeys

Muddy

Quality

opaque liquor; bad

Muscatel

Taste

tastes of grapes; good characteristic in Darjeeling teas

Mushy

Quality

not dried sufficiently during manufacture

Musty

Quality

mildewed

Namring

Location

Darjeeling tea garden

Napuk

Location

Assam tea garden

Neat

Quality

well-made

New York

Blend

 

Nibs

Quality

below average

Nilgiri

Location

Nilgiri Hills, SW India; delicate taste

Ning Chow

Location

N China

Numalighur

Location

Assam tea garden

Nuwara Eliya

Location

in Sri Lanka; a delicate tea

Oolong

Process

semi-fermented; originally and usually from China

Orange

Leaf colour

yellow tip or bud leaves

Orange Pekoe

Leaf size

small leaves. Alternatively means thin rolled leaf pieces

Orange Pekoe

Location

China; similar to Souchong

Orthodox

Process

machine used after drying; affects taste

Ouvah

Location

see Uva

Pai Mu Tan

Variety

white China tea

Paklum

Location

China

Pan-Fired

Process

for Japanese green teas

Panyong

Location

China

Pearl

Process

Small ball of large-leaf tea

Peking

Location

Beijing

Pekoe

Leaf size

medium-sized leaves; pronounced "pek-oh".  Alternatively means 'leaf' and not a leaf size

Pi Lo Chun

Variety

'Spiral of Spring Jade'; mild green China tea

Plain

Taste

neutral

Polyphenols

Constituent

chemicals responsible for basic taste of tea

Poonakandy

Blend

-

Pouchong

Process

semi-fermented

Pouchong

Blend

Oolong with gardenia or jasmine

Pungent

Taste

strong and bright

Pushkin

Blend

includes bergamot

Puttabong

Location

Darjeeling area; high quality

Queen Anne

Blend

-

Queen Mary

Blend

Darjeelings

Queen's Tea

Blend

created for Q. Victoria; Darjeeling with China, Ceylon & Assam

Ragged

Quality

badly made and unevenly graded tea

Rolling

Process

crushing of withered leaves

Rooibos

Variety

Not a tea; leaves of ???? bush processed as tea; popular in South Africa

Rose

Blend

any of several teas with rose petals

Rose Congou

Blend

Congou with rose petals

Rotorvane

Process

machine used after drying; affects taste

Russian

Location

Azerbaidjan or Georgia

Russian

Blend

China tea; lightly smoked; popular in and popularised by Russians

Russian Blend

Blend

various China teas

Russian Caravan

Blend

black tea, constituents vary.  In the 18th and 19th  Centuries all tea was imported into Russia overland by camel caravans from China; this may be the origin of the name

Russian Imperial

Blend

of India, Ceylon and China teas

Samovar

Accessory

Russian term; a heated container providing permanent supply of hot water for making tea.

Sencha

Variety

Japanese green tea, whole unrolled leaves

Seychelles

Location

-

Siaou Chu

Leaf type

same as Gunpowder

Silver Dragon

Variety

sweet green China tea

Sinensis

Variety

of Camellia

Soft

Taste

insipid; not bright; bad

Smoked

Process

fermented and smoke-dried

Souchong

Leaf size

large inferior leaves making poor tea

Sowmee

Leaf type

worse than Twankay

Sri Lanka

Location

new name of Ceylon; a wide range of teas

Standard

Quality

Oolong only: below average

Steaming

Process

in manufacture of green tea

Stewed

Taste

unpleasant taste caused by incorrect firing

Stewed

Taste

unpleasant taste caused by overlong infusion of leaves after brewing

Superior

Quality

Oolong only: good

Sweaty

Taste

unpleasant taste

Sylhet

Location

Bangladesh

Tannin

Constituent

erroneous name for Poyphenols

Tarry

Process

fermented and smoke-dried

Tarry

Quality

smoky aroma of infused leaf

Tea

-

the subject of this glossary

Tea

-

evening meal served around 5pm to 6pm; often in the North of England and/or eaten by the working and middle classes

Teacake

-

flattish bread bun with raisins; usually toasted, heavily buttered, and served with a cup of tea

Tea cozy

Accessory

insulated cover for teapot, usually made of wool or wool-like material; currently unfashionable

Teacup

Accessory

drinking vessel for tea

Teapot

Accessory

container for brewed tea

Teatowel

Accessory

non-fluffy cotton towel used for drying crockery and utensils; not restricted to teacups

Tea trolley

Accessory

trolley with tea urn, biscuits and so on; once common in large factories

Tea urn

Accessory

large (perhaps 5 gallon) container for brewing and dispensing tea in bulk.  As it can take some time to dispense the contents the tea is often stewed

Teetotal

-

abstaining from alchohol; but the "tee" is unconnected with tea the drink, it is probably an emphasis of the initial t in total

Temi

Variety

Sikkim; similar to Darjeeling

Terai

Location

N India

Theaceae

Family

to which Camellia sinensis belongs

Theobromine

Constituent

chemical; similar effect to caffeine

Theophylline

Constituent

chemical; similar effect to caffeine

Thin

Taste

insipid

Thowra

Location

Assam tea garden

Ti Kuan Yin

Variety

'Iron Goddess of Mercy'; China/Formosa Oolong

Tips

Leaf type

bud & top two leaves on stalk; highest concentration of flavours

Tippy

Leaf type

leaf-tips

Tisane

-

a 'tea' made from something other than Camellia Sinensis

Travancore

Location

S India; strong

Tscheinik

Blend

very strong tea popular in Russia

Tung Ting

Variety

China/Formosa Oolong

Twankay

Leaf type

old unrolled green leaves; inferior

Upper Namring

Location

Darjeeling area; high quality

Uva

Location

Central Mountains, Sri Lanka; a strong tea

Weedy

Taste

grassy taste due to under-drying

Well-made

Quality

conforms to its required grade (see Make)

White

Process

unfermented; no processing except for drying leaves. Rare

White tip

Leaf type

Tightly curled leaf buds picked in spring; allegedly contains no caffeine

Wilting

Process

same as Withering

Wiry

Quality

appearance of thinly-twisted leaves

Withering

Process

drying (or moistening) of freshly-picked leaves

Woody

Taste

grassy taste due to under-drying

Yamashiro

Location

Japan; high quality

Yin Zhen

Variety

'Silver Needles'; white China tea.  Rare

Young Hyson

Leaf type

medium age long green leaves rolled or twisted

Yunan

Location

SW China

Terminology  The terms in this glossary have been divided into six main categories plus a number of minor ones.  The categories overlap somewhat; note especially that variety, location and leaf type are sometimes interchangeable.  The information has been collected from numeorus sources and you will see that some of the explanations are contradictory.  You will also note that many terms describe physical features of tea and not how good it tastes--in contrast to the common English use of these words which would infer taste characteristics.

Tea Grades  These are shown below from small whole leaves (the generally better quality) down to large broken leaves and finally dust; they are often abbreviated, e.g. the first item in the list is TGFOP. Tippy, golden, flowery & orange usually refer to the type of leaf; broken, pekoe, fannings & dust refer to the size of the whole or broken leaf:

Tippy golden flowery orange pekoe

Golden flowery orange pekoe

Flowery orange pekoe

Orange pekoe

Tippy golden broken orange pekoe

Golden broken orange pekoe

Flowery broken orange pekoe

Broken orange pekoe

Broken pekoe

Broken orange pekoe fannings

Golden orange fannings

Orange fannings

Pekoe fannings

Pekoe dust

Dust

 A-C D-F G-I J-L M-O P-R S-V W-Z Terms Tea Grades Back

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