Loose Leaf Teas and Brewing Accessories
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JT Herself tea dictionary tea glossary tea terms

Tea Term Glossary Supreme Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe.  Up for translating?  Would you be surprised to learn that there aren't any actual oranges in this tea?  When my sister and I first delved into the fine world of loose leaf we were amazed at the new language and terms we picked up.  In an effort to give our new tea drinkers an edge, we've put together a Joy's Teaspoon Tea Term Glossary with some of the most commonly used tea vernacular!  Aroma - Fragrance of the tea leaves (tea leaf oils) both before and after steeping.  Assam - A black tea grown in the Assam region of India.  Astringency - That dry feeling in your mouth after an awesome cup of tea!  Bergamot– Essential oil garnered from the Bergamot Orange used to flavor Earl Grey teas. Black tea- Camellia sinensis leaves that are oxidized or fermented resulting in a black coloration of the leaves.  Black teas brew a red-brown cup. Broken - Smaller tea leaves resulting from the use of machines for cutting. Camelia Sinensis - Botanical name for the tea bush. Ceylon- A classification of teas grown in Sri Lanka Chai - Spicy concoction using ingredients like cinnamon, clove, pepper, etc. steeped with cream and sugar.  Usually found in the herbal or black categories.  Darjeeling- A black tea grown in the Indian region of Darjeeling.  Fermentation - Used to prepare oolong, pu-erh and black teas.  Green tea leaves are allowed to oxidize, therefore, changing the color and flavor of the leaf.  Flowery - Term used to grade the size of a tea leaf and indicates lighter colored leaf tips. Flush - Refers to the tea harvest. First Flush is the early spring plucking of new shoots. Second Flush is plucking done in late spring through early summer.  Autumnal flush is the final harvest in September.  Formosa- A classification of teas (usually oolongs) grown in Taiwan. Gaiwan - Traditional Chinese drinking cup that includes cup, lid and saucer.  Genmaicha - Green tea that includes toasted rice. Golden - Description of tea leaves with orange colored tips. Green tea- Unfermented tea leaves.  Leaves typically are green in appearance and come from China and Japan. Gunpowder - Green tea leaves that have been rolled into a ball shape. Gyokuro - Green teas from Japan grown in the shade.  Commonly used to make matcha. Herbal tea - Tea that are brewed in a similar style to tea but do not include actual camelia sinensis leaves.  Commonly used herbal ingredients include: peppermint, chamomile, lemongrass and lavender.  Keemun - Black tea from the Anhui Province in China.  Lapsang Souchong - Chinese black tea that is dried over fire and thus has a "smoky" flavor imparted in the leaves.  Matcha - Powdered green tea (commonly made from Gyokuro leaves) used in formal tea ceremonies.  Nilgiri - A black tea grown in the Indian region of Nilgiri.  Oolong - Partially fermented tea leaves (between a green and a black).  Orange Pekoe – Primarily used to grade Indian tea.  Indicates larger sized whole tea leaves.  Pu-erh- A type of tea that is processed from a green leaf that is dried, rolled and then microbially fermented.  Originating in the Yunnan Province of China, these teas can commonly be found in brick forms.   Rooibos - A tisane from South Africa that is naturally caffeine free. Sencha - A popular green tea from Japan and China. Tippy - Indicates a white or golden tip on the leaf. Tisane- Any form of drink that can  be steeped similar to tea, but does not actually contain tea (i.e. herbal teas, rooibos, fruit blends, etc.) White  tea - Tea leaves that have been plucked so early that they still have the fine, white hairs on the leaves giving the leaves a white look.  Cup is very pale in color.  I know that there are a number of terms that are not listed here.  I wanted to keep it as simple as possible for our newbies!  However, if you have crossed paths with a certain term, or have some questions regarding something I've listed here, please feel free to shoot me a note and we can clarify and discuss!


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  • Sarah on

    This is a good list of terms. I plan on using many of these in my daily vocabulary so that I can sound smart just like you!


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