Monday, January 4, 2010

Speak Fluent Tea

This is a list of some of the terms commonly used by many in the tea world.

·         Aroma: the fragrance of the tea liquor (liquid) and the infused leaf.
·         Astringency: the dry mouth feel that some teas give off
·         Balanced: when all of the flavors are well rounded
·         Body: the feel of the tea on the tongue, some have a heavier body than others
·         Botanicals: the Herbs that are made up of the leaves, roots, barks, berries, grasses, petals, and peels.
·         Brightness: Crispness of the flavor, and clarity of color.
·         Brisk: The bite of a tea, akin to the Astringency of the tea.
·         Character: The signature attributes of a tea from a given region. For example, a tea from Darjeeling that doesn’t have the floral or nutty notes one would expect to find is said to “lack character,” even though it may taste very good.
·         Chewy: A tea with a dense, complex, full flavor. Not just a character from star wars.
·         Colory: Describes a tea that exhibits great color but not necessarily great flavor.
·         Common: plain, thin liquor that has no distinct character.
·         CTC: A grade of tea, Cut, Tear, and Curl (CTC) is an alternative to the orthodox leaf styles, and has more pronounced thickness of flavor. Leaf size is more granular, with more surfaces exposed.
·         Delicate: Used to describe teas that are subtler in flavor, yet still complex.
·         Dull: Describes the flavor of an old or poorly manufactured tea.
·         Fermentation: Also know as oxidation, this is the process of exposing fresh tea leaves to oxygen in order to turn them from green to black tea.
·         Flush: the period when tea bushes develop tender new shoots for harvest.
·         First Flush: The early-season harvest in many tea-growing regions, most notably Darjeeling.
·         Flat: Used to describe a tea that lacks flavor and character.
·         Flavory: Used to describe a tea that has good flavor but may lack color.
·         Intense: Most often used to describe a tea that has unusually robust or concentrated flavor and aroma.
·         Liquor: Brewed tea is regarded to as liquor in tea tasting.
·         Metallic: An undesirable coppery quality found in some lower-quality black teas.
·         Orange Pekoe: Refers to a finely manufactured full leaf grade, not a tea type. No one knows why the word “orange” is used in this context.
·         Orthodox: Refers to tea processed in the orthodox method of being mechanically rolled, resulting in a twisted leaf. Typically lighter and more delicate than CTC’s.
·         Origin: Where tea is grown and manufactured.  
·         Original Line: An unblended lot (or invoice) of tea ranging from 500 to 2,000 lbs that posses its own unique flavor and aroma characteristics.
·         Oxidation: The process where crushed tea leaves exposed to oxygen begin to turn a dark red-amber color and develop complex flavor.
·         Pekoe: (Pee-ko) is a leaf grade typically made from a coarser plucking.  “Pico” is a boulevard in Los Angeles, not a tea term.
·         Personality: Indicates whether a tea is the outgoing, life-of-the-party type, or the more introverted and given to quiet contemplation.
·         Plain: Characteristic of the liquor of a dull or thin tea.
·         Pluck: Describes a person with courage and spirit, but with tea it simply means to pick.
·         Rolling: The process of manipulation tea leaves in order to change their shape and break down cell structure; leads to enzymatic reactions that allow flavor development. (And you thought it sounded simple).
·         Second Flush: The second leaf harvest period of the season. Second-flush teas have more body, color and intensity.
·         Strength: Used to describe teas that have a lot of flavor, color and aroma. Also refers to the extraction level of teas resulting from steeping time.
·         Tea Shaman: A title given to one who after many lifetimes achieves the ability to create teas of extraordinary taste, as well as interpret the subtlest nuances of nature and balance plates on his nose.
·         Thickness: Similar to body or strength.
·         Varietal: Refers to an unblended tea from a particular origin: e.g. Darjeeling.
·         Vegetative: Green teas often have qualities that remind people generally of green vegetables. It is a sign of freshness and quality.
·         Wallah: One who is a master of a particular craft or skill. Chai wallahs have honed their skills by serving chai to wandering souls for centuries. And you just thought it was a place in Washington.
·         Withering: The process of allowing tea leaves to lose moisture and become soft and pliable immediately following plucking; usually takes 10-16 hours.
      This great resource came from the good people at Tazo Tea,

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