Terminology Used in Tea
Relative to Dry Tea Leaf
Blistered: with raised blisters on the surface due to firing at too high a temperature initially. This characteristic has no connection with blister blight.
Bold: too large for the specified grade.
Choppy: subject to too much cutting in the dry condition.
Clean: free from dust, stalk, fiber etc.
Even: homogeneous in particle size and confirming to the grade specification.
Flaky: flat open leaf without twist and indicative of faulty withering, rolling or plucking, or a combination of these.
Grey: grey teas are produces by excessive handling and cutting in the sorting process.
Shotty or Grainy: small tightly twisted particles rather like grape-nuts, usually associated with pekoe grades. When applied to fannings the alternative term grainy is used.
High-Fired: fired at a high exhaust temperature but without burning. It is not regarded as an entirely derogatory characteristic.
Gone-Off: deteriorated usually on account of high moisture content conducive to moldiness.
Malty: a faint of aroma of malt which is a desirable feature associated with good firing in quality teas.
Tainted: contaminated with an extraneous flavor and aroma.
Relative to Infused Tea Leaf
Bright: used to describe color that is uniform and of reddish tinge.
Copperly: an especially desirable variant of the former.
Dull: the antithesis of bright in the sense defined.
Green: the result of under oxidation.
Mixed: containing leaf of diverse colors - red, green and dark brown; ascribable to uneven withering and fermentation.
Relative to Tea Liquor
Bakey: characteristic of an over-fired black tea in which too much moisture has been removed.
Biscuity: a pleasant aroma often used to describe quality Assams.
Brisk: lively on the palate with some degree of pungency; usually associated with a satisfactorily fired tea.
Bright: indicative of clarity and brightness of the liquor, this is generally a signature characteristic of quality tea.
Common: a plain, thin liquor that has no distinct flavor characteristics.
Dull: refers to the liquid's color, the opposite of bright. A dull tea produces a cloudy brew. May also denote lack of briskness.
Flat: lacking pungency and flavor, usually due to deterioration.
Full: describes a good combination of color and strength. May not indicate briskness but denotes a round, smooth mouth feel.
Hard: a pungent liquor related to greenness, accompanied by a harsh, bitter or rasping quality.
Harsh, Raw, Rasping: bitter, due to the presence of non-oxidized polyphenols; a common defect of under-wither teas.
Heavy: a thick, strong and darkly colored liquor with little "life" or briskness.
Light: liquor that lacks color and strength, often this tea will lack body and aroma as well.
Malty: a desirable quality commonly found in Assam teas.
Metallic: a sharp, coppery flavor found in some black teas.
Muscat: a flavor and aroma characteristic of fine Darjeelings, often associated with black currants.
Plain: lacking in the accepted desirable characteristics particularly pungency and quality.
Pungent: a bitter, harsh or rough characteristic that is felt along the gums rather than tasted on the tongue.
Quality: a general integration of desirable characteristics.
Round or Full: satisfactory in strength and color without harshness.
Smoky: a characteristic flavor and aroma of some Chinese teas, especially Lapsang Souchong. May also be found in other teas, in which case it is quite undesirable.
Smooth: similar to the preceding but less pronounced.
Soft: antithesis of brisk and indicating a badly fired tea.
Stale: faded aroma and a "dead" taste caused by excessive age and the subsequent loss of quality.
Thin: light liquor lacking any strong or desirable characteristics.
Toasty: describes the aroma of a fine Keemun and other highly fired teas.
Weedy: grassy or hay-like taste related to under-withering. May also refer to a woody taste. Green teas often have a distinct vegetal aroma and flavor.
Winy: relates to the aging of tea which normally does not enhance flavor. In a fine Keemun or Darjeeling, however, aging may bring out a mellow, pleasant characteristic.