Tea 201 - Terminology - Common Tea Words

The Language of Tea

The Language of Tea

At this point, you should have a good grasp on the idea of tea…now we should take a few moments to give you a bank of words.  This should help you in speaking the language of tea:

Antioxidant: a compound that slows the process of oxidation.

Assam: A major tea growing region in India.

Astringency: a bite (or bitter taste) caused by some teas.

Autumnal: Tea created later in the season like Darjeeling.

Bergamot: Citrus oil from the Bergamot orange used in Earl Grey.

Black Tea: Fully oxidized Camellia sinensis plant.

Blend: Method that allows for consistency among teas.

Body: Term used to denote the strength of a brewed tea.

Brick Tea: Tea that have been steamed and compressed into bricks like Pu-erh.

Caffeine: An alkaloid that serves as a stimulant and diuretic in the Central Nervous System.

Catechins: A polyphenols found in tea that is also an antioxidant.

Cha: Romanized spelling of Japanese/Chinese character for tea.

Chai: The word for tea on the Indian subcontinent.

Chesty: a term that denotes the odor absorbed by tea from the wood of a traditional storage chest.

CTC: Acronym for Cut, Tear and Curl.  It’s a machine process that allows for complete oxidation.

Darjeeling Tea: Tea grown in the Darjeeling hills of India.

Fannings: Small particles of tea used in tea bags.

Fermentation: Oxidation.

Firing: The process where teas are dried to stop any further enzymic changes.

Flush: This refers to the four separate plucking seasons throughout the year.

Genmaicha: Green tea blended with roasted rice.

Gong fu: These words mean skill and patience.  It is a style of brewing tea.

Gunpowder: Green tea rolled into tight pellet.

Guywan: A traditional Chinese lidded tea cup that also has a saucer.

Pekoe: A term that describes that largest leaves used to produce tea.

Plucking: The process of harvesting and collecting tea.

Polyphenols: Antioxidant compounds found in tea.

Rolling: The process where withered leaves are rolled to initiate enzymic oxidation.

Tippy: Term that denotes tea with white or golden tips.

Winey: Mellow quality, characteristic of Keemun teas that aged between six months to a year.

Withering: Operation that removes water from the tea plants.

Yixing: A region of China noted for its purple clay, which was used to produce the distinctive unglazed teapots used for gung fu style of brewing tea.

This is a nice and quick reference guide into the language of tea.  Was this helpful?

Tea 201 - White Tea - Downy Buds

White Tea Leaves

White Tea Leaves

White tea is the youngest harvested buds of the Camellia sinensis plant almost exclusively in the Fujian province of China.  It gets its name from the down white hairs that are found on the leaves.  The liquor itself is the most pale of teas and it is known for its mild taste and fresh scent.

White tea is very delicate.  Because of this fact, you should use filtered water that is brought to a high temperature, but not boiling.  A good rule of thumb (if you don’t have a thermometer to test for 140 to 165ºF) is to bring it to a boil and then let it cool for at least a minute.

White tea was discovered between 960 and 1279 AD during the Song dynasty.  The Chinese discovered that the youngest buds of the tea leaves produced a mild and refreshing taste.  In the beginning, it was tea reserved for the Emperor.  In fact according to legend, the Emperor Hui Zong became so obsessed with this tea that he lost his Empire while in obsessive pursuit of the perfect cup.

White tea went relatively unknown outside of China for years.  The popularity of white tea in the west is only a recent occurrence.  The tea’s popularity grew when health conscious people were finding the health benefits of white teas.  White tea is rare because of the strict rules on harvesting and processing.

There are quite a few varieties of white tea based on several factors.  The Silver Needle is the most sought after.  This tea can only be harvested during a brief window in the early spring right before the tea buds turn into leaves.  Long Life Eyebrow is considered in the lesser member of the white tea variety.  It is harvested after the time period of Silver Needle and White Peony.  Tribute Eyebrow is similar to Long Life but is considered to have a darker appearance.  White Peony is the second highest of quality and is harvested when there is only a bud and two leaves.  Lastly, there is Snowbud which is only harvested when there are only buds and leaves in the early spring.

In the end, you’re going to have to experience them for yourselves in terms of flavor.  If you are interested in potential health benefits here’s a link:

Tea 201 - Origin - Where Tea is Grown

Tea Origin by Percentage (c.o.

Tea Origin by Percentage (c.o.

It would not be a proper lesson on tea without sitting down and discussing the origin of tea.  Where is it grown?  More importantly where can it grow?

Let’s start with tea’s origin.  Where did it originally come from?

Originally its natural form was believed to have originated in China.  The most celebrated of teas come from the area of China known as “The Golden Triangle.” This area is found between the mountains of Huang Shan, Mogan Shan, Qi Shan and Tianmu Shan.

In the country of Taiwan, it is well known for its oolong teas.

India has grown in popularity due its Assam teas (which are grown in the Brahmaputra valley) and Darjeeling teas (which is grown in the ex-British hills of the Himalayas).  Darjeeling teas are known as the “Champagne of teas.”

This also spreads into Nepal.  In their side of the Himalayas, they have their own tea that resembles Darjeeling.

Sri Lanka is the source of the famous and fragrant Ceylon tea.  The principle growing regions of this country are Nuwara Eliya, Dimbula and Uva.

Of course, we can never forget Japan renowned for its green sencha, courser bancha and matcha.

But that’s just the Asian countries.

Tea growing has also made its way to East Africa to the countries of Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, and Tanzania.   These countries have made a dent in the mark by way of making large quantities of black teas.  However, they have not been able to deliver the same quality of Chinese Yunnan or Indian Darjeeling.

But it does not stop there.  Tea growing has also spread to the Americas to the following countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and the good old USA.

Tea has spread all over the world and it will continue to do so as it continues to also grow in popularity.

Pretty cool, no?

2012 Tea Bloggers Choice Award Winners

Tea Blogger's Choice Award 2012

Tea Blogger's Choice Award 2012

The results are in! Tea bloggers from all around, and our readership have weighed in through blog comments, emails, Facebook and Twitter to compile the following results for this year's Tea Blogger's Choice Awards presented by the Association of Tea Bloggers.


Tea Bloggers' Choice Awards Winners 2012

Unblended/Unflavored Black :  Teavivre Yunnan Dian Hong Golden Tip 

Blended/Flavored Black:  Harney and Sons Earl Grey Supreme 

Unblended/Unflavored Green:  Den's Tea Gyokuro Kin

Blended/Flavored Green:  Aiya Tea Matcha Infused Sencha 

Unblended/Unflavored Oolong: Teavivre Jin Xuan Milk Oolong (One of my personal favorites)

Blended/Flavored Oolong: Naivetea Lychee Oolong (One of my personal favorites)

Unblended/Unflavored White: Rishi Silver Needle Premium

Blended/Flavored White: Art of Tea Coconut Creme White Tea

Unblended/Unflavored Puerh: Rishi Ancient Puerh Classic

Blended/Flavored Puerh: Stash Black Forest Cake Puerh (One of my personal favorites)

Herb Blend: David's Tea Chocolate Rocket

Single Herb: David's Tea Spearmint