Glossary

Antioxidant: Any substance that reduces oxidative damage. Oxygen damage to your cells results when there are too many free radicals present inside the body. Researchers surmise that such damage may be partly responsible for the effects of aging and certain diseases. When they define antioxidants, scientists have discovered that certain substances in food (and tea) may play a role in protecting against this damage.
Aromatized: Tea is placed into a closed drum, sometimes even warmed, and essence—in the form of aerosol—is sprayed onto the rotating leaves. Common essences are mango, apple, lychee fruits, cherry, honey, and whiskey. This is an English invention.
Assam: A major tea growing region in India. These black teas are known for their strong, malty flavor.
Astringency: The drying sensation, (or bite) in the mouth caused by certain teas.
Autumnal: Tea produced late in the growing season – often used in reference to Darjeeling 4th flush teas.
Bancha: A Japanese green tea that is a lower grade than sencha and the other Japanese teas. It’s harvested from the same tea plants as sencha, but later in the summer so the leaf quality is poorer. See Sencha.
Bergamot: A citrus oil derived from the bergamot orange used to flavor black tea to make Earl Grey tea.
Blended: Method to establish consistency between lots of teas. “English Breakfast” and “Russian Caravan” are famous blended teas in the West. Blending tea is based on the assumption that lesser quality tea will take on the taste and aroma of the more expensive sorts with which it is mixed. Blends can have as many as ten different teas from all four of the tea growing continents in one cup.
Body: Tea taster’s term to denote strength and viscosity of a brewed tea.
Brick Tea: Tea leaves that have been steamed and compressed into bricks. Pu-er is a common brick tea.
Bud: A young spring tea leaf before it’s opened. Does not refer to tea plants’ flowers.
Caffeine: An alkaloid which acts as a heart, respiratory, and central nervous system stimulant and diuretic.
Catechins: A type of antioxidant found in great abundance in tea leaves.
Ceylon tea: Tea from Sri Lanka.
Cha: Romanized spelling of Chinese and Japanese character which defines the word tea.
Chai: The word for tea on the Indian subcontinent. In the West it generally means a spiced black tea made with milk (masala chai).
Chasen: Bamboo whisk used in the Japanese Tea Ceremony.
Chashaku: Bamboo tea-measuring scoop used in the Japanese Tea Ceremony.
Chawan: Tea bowl used in the Japanese Tea Ceremony.
Chunmee: A grade of Chinese tea with a curled form.
Congou: Chinese Black, or Red, Tea.
CTC: Acronym for Cut, Tear, and Curl. A machine process which cuts the withered leaves into uniform particles to facilitate a complete oxidation. Typical of most black tea grown in India and other lowland producing countries, and used in teabags to create a stronger, more colorful tea.
Darjeeling Tea: Tea grown in the Darjeeling Hills of India. These teas are renowned for their muscatel flavor.
Dust: The smallest grade of tea, typically associated with lower quality. Dust is prized for its quick extraction and is commonly used in teabags.
Earl Grey: Any Black Tea blend flavored with Bergamot Oil.
Fannings: Small particles of tea one grade larger than Dust produced as a by-product of the tea making process.
Fermentation: Fermentation involves microbes and the absence of oxygen. Fermentation occurs in the creation of Pu-er, but not in any other class of tea.
Firing: The process whereby the tea leaves are dried to arrest further enzymatic changes. This makes the tea fit for packing and storing.
Flush: Flush refers to the four separate plucking seasons throughout the year, each known for their distinctive flavor.
Formosa Teas: Tea produced in Taiwan, typically oolong teas.
Gaiwan: [GUY-wan]A traditional Chinese lidded tea drinking vessel with accompanying saucer.
Genmaicha: [GEN-my-cha]Japanese Bancha tea blended with roasted rice. See Bancha.
Golden: Refers to the orange colored tips present in high quality black tea.
Gong Fu: Translates as “skill and patience.” The style of brewing tea with a high proportion of leaf to water and repeated short infusions.
Gyokuro: [G’YOH-koo’roh] Translates to “Pearl Dew”, a Japanese Green Tea made from tea leaves that are shaded a few weeks before they are harvested. This shading causes the leaves to have a higher concentration of chlorophyll producing a tea that is sweeter and more vegetal. The shading process also increases the amino acids and caffeine present in the leaves.
Hishaku: Bamboo ladle for drawing water used in the Japanese Tea Ceremony.
Hojicha: A Japanese green tea made by roasting Bancha leaves and twigs. Brown in appearance, the tea has less caffeine and tannins than other teas because of the high amount of stems. See Bancha.
Jasmine: Green or Oolong Tea scented with jasmine flowers. See Scented.
Keemun: Chinese Black Tea from Anhui Province and often used in English Breakfast blends.
Koicha: Thick Matcha tea. Thin Matcha tea is usucha. See Usucha.
Kukicha: A traditional style twig tea from Japan consisting of the stems and stalks discarded after making other teas.
Masala: Hindi for “mixture”. A mixture of spices (usually black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and cardamom) used to make masala chai.
Matcha: Powdered Green tea used in the Japanese Tea Ceremony. Matcha is produced by grinding tencha leaves (minus their stems and veins) into a fine powder. See Tencha.
Muscatel: A muscat grape-like taste associated with many Darjeeling Teas.
Orange Pekoe: The phrase “Orange Pekoe” (pronounced Peck-oh) originates in the period when the Dutch East India Company dominated the tea market. Tea was originally imported as an exclusive good for the upper echelons of society, which started with the king and his court. Among his titles, The Duke was called the Duke of Orange. Therefore the best tea, reserved for the king and his court, gained this label. The second word “Pekoe” arose as a corruption of the Chinese pronunciation Bai Hao in the Cantonese dialect pronounced Pak Ho, which means “white hair” and is used to indicate the buds of the tea plant’s upper leaves, which are covered with tiny hairs. Their presence indicates a higher grade of tea. Orange pekoe leaves produce an orange-colored infusion in the cup.
Orthodox: Traditional method for picking and processing teas in India without using CTC technology.
Oxidation: A process where elements in the tea leaves react with air to create a darker brown-red color and characteristic aroma to the resulting tea.
Plucking: The process of harvesting and collecting tea leaves.
Polyphenols: Antioxidant compounds present in tea.
Powdered: Tencha tea leaves, free of stems and main veins, finely ground into a powder. This process produces Matcha (used in the Japanese Tea Ceremony). See Tencha.
Rolling: The process by which withered leaves are rolled to initiate enzymatic oxidation.
Scented: Fresh, damp flowers are placed on the dried, outspread leaves in order to scent the tea. Common flowers used are jasmine, cinnamon flowers, roses, lotus, and chrysanthemum.
Sencha: A traditional Japanese green tea with tightly rolled, needle-shaped leaves. It’s an early spring pick with a bright color, a clean finish, and a grassy taste reminiscent of a fresh sea breeze. Sencha is stronger than most Chinese-style green teas.
SFTGFOP: Special Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (smallest whole leaf tea)
Tannin: A plant-derived polyphenol (antioxidant). Tannin is responsible for the dry sensation in your mouth after you drink some teas. Studies show that tannins keep bad bacteria out of your mouth and help to impede dental cavities. It is easy to recognize a tea that is high in tannin by the astringency of the drink, which sometimes translates into bitterness if the tea has been over brewed: tannins are released slowly but in an ever increasing way, so that an overly long infusion considerably raises their concentration and makes the tea bitter.
Tencha: The Japanese green tea from which Matcha is made by grinding the leaves (minus their stems and veins) into a fine powder. The leaves are shaded 2-3 weeks before they are harvested which causes them to have a higher concentration of chlorophyll producing a tea that is sweeter and more vegetal. See Matcha.
Terroir: The combined influence of geography, weather, season of the pluck, tea bush variety or cultivar, and method of leaf manufacture that is responsible for the unique flavor of an individual tea.
Theanine: A mind-calming amino acid in tea. The presence of theanine in tea is believed to act as a neurotransmitter responsible for tea’s ability to induce relaxation despite the caffeine present.
Tippy: Term denoting tea that contains white or golden tips, indicative of high quality.
Tisane: Herbal “tea”. An infused beverage made with plants other than Camellia sinensis.
Tuocha: [Too’oh-cha]Chinese for “bowl tea”. A common shape for Pu-er teas.
Umami: The hard to describe “fifth sense” of taste. The other four tastes are: bitter, salty, sweet, and sour. Umami is the mouth feel. It is the physical experience of taste. Consider chicken broth: it is salty, certainly, but it also has a rich, savory, buttery taste to it that is far from salty, sweet, sour, or bitter. This savory flavor is umami.
Usucha: Thin Matcha tea. Thick Matcha tea is koicha. See Koicha.
Winey: Mellow quality, characteristic of some Keemun teas which have been given six months to a year to age.
Withering: The operation which removes moisture from the recently plucked leaves making them less brittle and preparing them for further processing. Generally done by spreading the leaves and allowing the air to pass over them.
Yixing: [YEE-shing] A region of China noted for its purple clay, used to produce distinctive unglazed “yixing” teapots.
Yunnan: A province in southwestern China.

Special Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (smallest whole leaf tea)