Aroma - The smell, e.g. earthy, musky, malty


Assam  - A type of tea grown in the state of Assam, India, known for its strong, deep red brewed color


Astringency - A tingling and dry sensation in the mouth by teas rich in polyphenols


Baked - Arises from drying the leaves at too high a temperature


Body - This is the strength of taste and a feeling of fullness in the mouth 


Bright - This denotes a leaf that is bright or light in color with a refreshing taste


Brisk - This describes a tea that is full and lively on the tongue


Broken - Tea leaves that have been processed through a cutter, reducing leaf size


Catechins - A class of polyphenols found in high concentrations in green tea, and varied concentrations in black tea


Chesty  - Tea leaves having an after taste or smell from the wooden chest used as packing


CTC - An acronym for Crush, Tear and Curl, a manufacturing process to shred leaves that causes a stronger infusion.  Used more in India than China


Firing - The process of rapidly heating the tea leaves with hot air or in a wok, to stop fermentation and dry the leaves for a finished product


Flavor - Possesses a distinct specific taste e.g. sweet, bitter, tangy


Flowery - Describes whole tea leaves that have light colored tips


Golden - A term describing the orange colored tips on high quality tea leaves


Liquor - The liquid or infusion produced by the tea leaves


Mouthfeel - How the liquor feels in the mouth e.g. oily, robust, silky, creamy and buttery


Musty - The brew has a moldy taste or smell which is due to improper packing or storage


Orange Pekoe - This term is related to the grading of the whole tea leaf (orthodox) primarily for black teas.  Assams and Darjeelings often use tippy golden flowery orange pekoe (TGFOP) which mean's there is a preponderance of tips.  Flowery Orange Pekoe (FOP) is used for good quality tea with some tips.  The highest grade is Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (FTGFOP).  Sometimes tongue-in-cheek referred to as 'far too good for ordinary people'.

There are different stories as to where the term Orange Pekoe originated from.  It’s said that Orange is named after the Dutch House of Orange Nassau; whose shipping lines were responsible for introducing tea to Europe.  The Chinese say the orange is because of the orange color of a highly oxidized high quality leaf.  Pekoe is said to describe the downy white hairs of the young bud and leaves


Orthodox - A processing method that imitates the larger leaf styles of hand produced teas


Peak - The moment when the body, the taste, the aroma and the astringency of the tea combines to create a perfect drink


Pungent - Strong tea with a presence


Tea Terminology

Tea masters feel the same way about tea as wine connoisseurs feel about their wines.  Both need the senses of sight, smell and taste to aid in determining the quality. With tea, the clarity and color of leaves and liquid are examined, then the smell; for example, pu-erh often has the aroma of nut, wood and sometimes flowers.  Lastly, taste to assess the flavor, such as sweet, astringent, buttery etc.   Below are some examples of terms and common words used: