Tea Terms:
What Do They All Mean?

August 7, 2014

Tea Tasting is an art form similar to wine tasting. In fact, many of the terms used to describe certain characteristics of tea are the same in the wine world. The following are a few descriptive words you will probably hear when taking part in a tea tasting. There are plenty more descriptions out there but I am only going over ones you will probably hear in the beginning that will help you most.

Aroma is the odor the tea liquor has and is also called the nose or fragrance. If a tea has a complex aroma is will be described most times as a bouquet.

Astringency is the sensation in your mouth caused by a reaction between polyphenols (tannins) along with proteins in your salvia. It creates a sensation on your tongue and sides of your mouth with a sensation similar to sour.

Body is the tactile sensation of substance and weight to describe the strength and fullness of the tea. Tea may be described as thin, medium, or full.

Character is used more in professional tea tasting situations. It means by drinking the tea you can tell the origins of where the tea leaves came from.

Flat means the tea is lacking in briskness causing poor quality and the tea doesn’t have good flavor. Usually this means very low grade tea leaves were used.

Full describes the liquor color, strength, substance, and roundness of the tea compared to being empty.

Pungent is the ideal tea a professional tea taster desires. It means the tea has a perfect combination of color, aroma, flavor, briskness and strength.

Thickness describes the liquor having substance but not necessarily strength.

Thin or weak refers to the tea liquor lacking thickness and strength.

As you can see, tea tasting descriptions are pretty much the same as wine tasting descriptions. Each have their own terms that you will become familiar with and learn to appreciate. The main emphasis should be on what you like and don’t like. When tasting tea, remember to take your time and don’t get so caught up in the descriptions that you forget to enjoy the tea. Leave all the fancy talk to the professionals – unless that happens to be your cup of tea. :0)

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