General Tea Glossary

Afternoon tea
The name given to the British meal taken mid-afternoon, comprising finger sandwiches, scones cakes and pastries accompanied by tea. The 7th Duchess of Bedford is reputed to have given birth to afternoon tea, early in the 19th century, when she decided to take tea to stave off the pangs of hunger she suffered between lunch and dinner.

Amoy
Amoy Island, now  known as Xiamen port city of Fujian Province in China, is famous for marketing of Fujian

Oolong Teas. 

Anhwei, Anhui

One of the provinces in China where tea is grown.

Assam
A region in northeastern India, known for its robust, high quality teas characterized by their smooth round, malty flavor.

Auction

Sale of tea in an auction room on a stipulated date at a specific time. Tea auctions are held in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Kenya and Malawi - these auctions sell teas from their particular areas.

Autumnal

Teas harvested in autumn and touched with cool weather. The term is normally applied to teas from India and Formosa.

Baihao Yinzhen (Bai-Hao Yin-Zhen)

A famous best quality Chinese White tea means ‘White Fur Silver Needle’ from Fuding and Zhenghe counties of Fujian province of China is a most expensive tea produced from the top buds only. Genuine Silver Needles are made from cultivars of the Da Bai (Large White) tea tree family is lightly oxidized. The Fuding origin Leafs are bit lighter than the Zhenghe origin Teas which are darker and are full bodied.

Bai Jiguan tea

It means ‘White Cockscomb / White Rooster’ tea is one of the variety of ‘Wuyi Oolong Tea’ from Mount Wuyi of Fujian province of China. The tea leaves are yellowish. The brew is light in taste.

 

Bai Mudan tea

Also know as ‘Pai Mu tan’ or ‘Mudan (Mutan) White tea’, ‘White Peony tea’ produced eastern Fujian province from ‘Dai Bai’ variety bushes and plucked from a bud and two leaf. A fruity tea, similar to ‘Yinzhen’ but fuller in body and more floral in aroma, yet not as astringent as ‘Shou Mei’.

Ball tea

China tea compressed in a ball to protect it against atmospheric changes.

Basket-fired

Japan tea that has been cured in baskets by firing or drying.

Ban Tian Yao tea

It is variety of Wuyi Oolong tea, literally means ‘waist halfway to sky’ grown in Mount Wuyi in Fujian has a light smokey taste.

Billy tea
Tea made by Australian bushmen in Billy cans.

Bitter tea
Tea brewing method used in Kashmir. Tea is boiled in a tinned copper vessel, red potash, aniseed and salt are added before it is served from a brass or copper, tin-lined teapot.

Black tea
Tea that has been fired or dried after the fermentation or oxidization period of manufacture.

Blend
Tea taster who decides on the proportions of each different tea required to produce the flavor of a given blend.

Bohea
Tea from the Wu-i Hills in Fukien, China. Originally was applied to black China tea and to tea from Indonesia. In the 18th century Bohea (Bo-hee) was the name given to the tea drink.

Break
An amount of tea, comprising a given number of chests or sacks of tea.

Brick tea
 

Common grades of China and Japan tea mixed with stalk and dust and molded into bricks under high pressure. Originally, these bricks were used by Asian travelers as convenient way of carrying the tea they need to drink and the bricks were also used to barter for other goods.

Broker
 

A tea taster who negotiates the selling of tea from producers, or the buying of tea for packers and dealers, for a brokerage fee from the party on whose behalf the broker is working.

Butter tea (Tsampa)


Boiled tea mixed with salt and soda, then strained into an urn containing butter and dried ground cereal (often barley) and churned. Butter tea is served in a basin and often a lump of butter is added when serving. It was served in Tibet and then in India.

Bubble tea


Taiwanese tea based milk shakes added with fruit jellies and tropioca balls. The bubble is created by shaking the tea know as paomo (frothy / foamy) tea.

Bu Zhi Chun tea

It is variety of Wuyi Oolong tea, literally means ‘knows not of spring’ grown in Mount Wuyi in Fujian has a light taste.

 

Cachar
The most common variety of India tea, produced in Cachar district of Assam.

Caddy
 

The name given to a tin or jar of tea, which takes its name from the Chinese or Malayan word 'catty'- a term used to describe the weigh of one pound of tea. In the past tea caddies were equipped with a lock and key.

 

Camellia Sinensis

Today, the tea trade’s international botanical name for the tea plant.

Caravan tea
Tea taken by camel from China to Russia in the past.

Ceylon


Blends of teas grown on the island of Sri Lanka, which takes their name from the colonial name for the island. The traditional name of Sri Lanka was readopted by the island when it became a Sovereign Republic in the Commonwealth in 1972.

Cha
The word for tea derived from the Chinese and Indian languages.

Chanoyu
Japanese tea ceremony or party.

Chest
Original tea package, normally made of wood and lined with metal foil. Originally tea chests were lined with lead.

Ching Wo
Black China tea from Fujien province.

Chap
From the Indian word chapna meaning to stamp a number, mark or brand. Each break of tea is marked is a chap.

Cheese Tea

Freshly brewed iced tea of any flavor (Green / Oolong / Black tea) with Cheese cream on top (whipped cheese topping) and could be either sweet or salty.

 

Chun Mee
 

Green China tea, a variety of ‘Young Hyson Tea’ is a fine, hard, small, twisted leaf tea resembles the shape of human eyebrows. Chun Mee (Chun Mei) is also know as Zhen Mei.

Ching Wo
 

The name originally given to tea growing plantations or estates. The Japanese cultivated tea gardens within their temples and palace grounds and had copied this idea from the Chinese. Today, the term estate has tended to replace the word garden but teas grown on such tend to identify fine harvests produced solely from that estate – hence a single estate tea. Tea garden was also used to describe London pleasure gardens in England mainly during the 18th century where tea was served to both sexes.

Collection
 

Once a plucker has filled a basket or sack with tea leaf, it is taken to a collection point where it is checked and weighed before being taken to the factory for making.

Cloning
 

Cuttings taken from old tea bushes to produce new tea bushes. Today most tea bushes are grown from clones or cuttings taken from older bushes.

Congou
A general term used to describe all black China teas regardless of the area in which they are grown and made.

Country Greens
A term originally used to describe China green teas, other than Hoochows or Pingsueys.

Darjeeling


A tea growing area in North India on the foothills of the Himalayas Mountains. Teas grown here take their name from the area and are said to be the ‘Champagne’ of Indian teas. Grown at altitudes up to 7,000ft above sea level (more than 1,291m) Darjeeling tea is known as a high-grown tea and is light in coloring with a delicate, muscatel flavor and aroma. The original tea planted in this area was grown from seeds and plants imported from China.

Darrang
Tea growing district in Assam, North India.

Da Hong Pao

Literally means ‘Big Red Robe’ is a Dark Oolong very heavily oxidized tea, is famously known as ‘Wuyi Rock Tea’ as it is grown in Wuyi MountainsFujian Province, is a very priced tea originally grown during Song Dynasty..

Dehradun
A tea growing area in the Uttaranchal State, North-west India. Some 30 estates (most of them under 50 hectares) produce green and orthodox black leaf tea.

Dibrugarh
One of the seven tea growing districts in Assam.

Dickoya
 

Tea growing district on the central massif in Sri Lanka. Teas from this area are known as high grown teas and have a full astringent flavor.

Dimbula


Tea growing district just above Dickoya, which gives its name to a blend of Ceylon teas from this area and is also used in Ceylon blends. Dimbula teas are black and characterized by their full-bodied flavor.

Dooars
 

A tea growing region of North India just below the Himalaya Mountains which produce full-bodied colorful teas that are ideal for blending purposes.

Earl Grey


A black China tea treated with the oil of bergamot which gives the tea a scented aroma and taste. It was said to have been blended for and named after the 2nd Earl Grey when he was prime minister of Britain by a Chinese mandarin after the success of a British diplomatic mission to China.

English Breakfast tea


A name for the tea blend which originally applied to China Congou tea in the United States of America. In Britain it was a name applied to a blend of teas from India and Sri Lanka; today it is used to include blends of black teas producing a full-bodied strong flavored colorful tea.

Estate


A tea growing property or holding that may include more than one garden under the same management or ownership. Tea estates are also known as plantations.

Foong Mee

Green China tea, a variety of ‘Young Hyson Tea’ is a long, large, curly leaf tea.

Formosa
 

An island off the Chinese coast formally known as Taiwan which produces Oolong, Pouchong and black teas made by the Orthodox method.

Fo Shou Tea

Alternatively called as ‘Xiang Huan’, which literally means ‘Buddha’s Hand’ is a light Wuyi Oolong tea with peculiar taste grown in Yongchun and Mount Wuyi in Fujian. It is also grown in Taiwan.

Government Standards


In USA, it applies to teas being imported into the United States of America which comply with the standards of purity, quality and fitness for consumption as defined by the tea examiners under the Food & Drug Administration of the USA Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

Grade
Term used to describe a tea leaf or particle size of leaf.

Green Tea
Tea that is withered, immediately steamed or heated to kill the enzymes then rolled and dried. It has a light appearance and flavor.

Gunpowder
 

Chinese Green tea originally from Zhejiang province, but today could be any young tea, which is rolled into a small pellet-size ball then dried. The finished tea has a greyish appearance not unlike gunpowder in color which is how the tea gets its name.

Gyokuro
 

A high-grade Japanese tea produced by a special process in the Uji district of Japan. It is made from tea grown on shaded bushes.

Handkerchief tea


A tea which was grown on Formosa and which gets its name from the large silk handkerchiefs that Chinese tea grower used to use to collect their very fine tippy teas.

High Tea


The name given to a meal served late afternoon-early evening which is a mixture of afternoon tea and dinner. The meal comprises a main entree dish sometimes a pudding or dessert served with bread and butter, cakes and tea. High tea was the main meal for farming and working classes in Britain in the past.

Hoochow
A China green tea.

Huangshan Maofeng tea

It is a one of the most famous Chinese ‘Green Tea’ and means "Yellow Mountain Fur Peak" due to the small white hairs which cover the leaves and the shape of the processed leaves which resemble the peak of a mountain; produced in south eastern interior Anhui province of China near Huang Shan (Yellow Mountain). The Tea leaves resemble Orchid buds is a clean needle-like tea with a slight floral overtone. The best teas (new buds and a leaf next to bud) are picked in the early Spring before China's Qingming Festival.

Huoshan Huangya tea

It is a Chinese ‘Yellow Tea’ have a shiny appearance and very similar to ‘Huangshan Maofeng tea’ from Anhui province in China. It is also known as Huo Mountain Yellow Sprout. When steeped, the tea has refreshing bamboo-like fragrance and a very peppery fresh taste as well as an unusual green-yellow colour. As with most bud teas, the colour and fragrance are slight.

Huang Guanyin tea

It is a Wuyi Oolong Tea grown in Mount Wuyi, Fujian, has a creamy taste. The Tea is made by either ‘tightly rolled’ like ‘Anxi Oolongs’ or in ‘Strips’ like conventional ‘Wuyi Oolongs’.

Huangjin Gui

A premium Oolong tea from Anxi county, Fujian is named after the yellow golden colour of its budding leaves and its unique flowery aroma also known as Golgen Osmanthus or Golden Cassia. The tea is similar to Tieguanyin but with a little Oxidation. It has a flowery, delicate aroma without the astringency of a green tea or the heaviness of a Red / Black tea. 

Huang Meigui tea

It is new variety of Wuyi Oolong tea developed since 2002 CE grown in Mount Wuyi in Fujian. It has a highly aromatic fragrance and a lighter floral taste and appearance of the steeped leaves are light green.

Hunan
One of the tea growing provinces of China.

Hyson
 

A type of China green tea originally from Anhui province, also known as ‘Lucky Dragon Tea’, formerly drunk exclusively in Europe and often the name given there to the tea drink. Chinese people claim that the word Hyson is derived from Cantonese name literally meaning ‘flourishing spring tea’. ‘Young Hyson’ is a high quality of Hyson tea which is plucked early. ‘Young Hyson’ is an eyebrow shaped leaf green tea.

Indonesia
Country producesteas which are bright and brisk.

Invoice
The document covering a shipment of tea generally synonymous with a break or chop.

Jat
Type of tea bush normally applied to its origin. For example a tea comes from the China or Indian jat. This means that the tea bushes originated either from seeds or cuttings from China tea plants or from the indigenous Indian tea found in Assam.

Java
A tea producing island of Indonesia.

Jin Fo Tea

Means ‘Gold Buddha Tea’ is a new variety of Wuyi Oolong tea, tastes medium in terms of creaminess and floral after taste with Leaf appearance of uniform emerald green colour . It was developed 10 year ago at the research entre in Mount Wuyi, Fujian.

Jin Jun Mei Tea

It means ‘Golden Beautiful Eyebrow’ is a better variety of ‘Lapsang Souchang Black Tea’ produced in Tongmu village of Mount Wuyi in Fujian. The tea is made from two small shoots plucked in early spring which gives the tea golden glow. The tea leaf is fully oxidized and and smoked to which produces sweet, fruity, flowery flavor.

Jin Suo Tea

It means ‘Golden Key’, is a Wuyi Oolong tea from Mount Wuyi, Fujian has a light taste.

Kandy
A Ceylon tea , medium grown at altitudes between 2,000ft and 4,000ft above sea level. Teas from Kandy are also used for blending purposes.

Kangra Valley
In Himachal Pradesh, North-West India where tea is grown on some 1,200 small holdings each just a few hectares in size. Green tea production predominates.

Keemun (Qimen Hong Cha)


It is pronounced as ‘Chee-men’ which means in english as ‘Qimen Red Tea’ is a fine grade of black-leaf China tea produced in the Qimen county of Anhui province of China between Yellow mountains and Yangtze river. First produced in 1875, it quickly became popular in the West and is still used for a number of classic blends. It is a light tea with characteristic stone fruit and slightly smoky aroma and a gentle, malty, non-astringent taste like an unsweetened cocoa. Top varieties have orchid-like fragrance and additional floral notes in the flavor.

Kenya
An East Africa tea producing country, which produces some of the finest black teas from the African continent. Kenya teas are used for blending purposes as well as being sold as specialty tea in its own right. It is a bright coppery tea with a pleasantly brisk flavor and gives out reddish colour to the brew. 

Kericho
The home of the state-owned Kenya Tea Packing Factory from which the internal market is supplied.

Lakhimpur
A tea growing district in Assam, North India.

Lahpet Tea
Fermented or Pickled Tea is the national delicacy of Burma and is eaten as a Tea Leaf Salad.

Lapsang Souchong


It is a priced tea popular amongst westerners, is a black tea originally from Mount Wuyi, Fujian which is smoke-dried over pinewood fires giving it its smoky tarry flavor and aroma. The word ‘Lapsang Souchong’ means ‘Pine Wood Smoked tea from Small leaf cultivar’ (Lap means Pine; Sang means Smoke); Souchong is a local Fuzhou slang and derived from words ‘Zheng Shan (original mountain) and Xiao Zhong (Small Leaf Cultivar).

Lu’an Melon Seed Tea (Lu’an Guapian Tea)

A Baked Green Tea from Lu’an city of Anhui province. Lu'an Melon Seed Tea's name is derived from the shape of the processed tea leaves, which are flat and oval and resemble a melon seed. Unlike most green teas which use the new buds in making tea, Lu'an Melon Sea Tea uses the second leaf on the branch. Each leaf's central vein is removed and the leaves are pan fried and shaped to stop oxidizing enzymes and dry the tea. 

Malawi
African tea producer whose teas are mainly used for blending purposes as they are coloury with good flavor.

Matcha
Powdered green tea from Japan used in the tea ceremony.

Meat tea
Another term for high tea.

Mao Feng

Means “furry peak”. Term used in Tea manufacture denoting the picking of a bud and two leaves of equal length. Mao feng teas have a broad, curved, flat shape. It is considered as one of the choicest shapes of tea leaf.

Natural leaf
Whole-leaf green tea from Japan similar to pan-fried but with less rolling also known as ‘porcelain-fired’ tea.

Nuwarah Eliyah
A Ceylon tea , high grown at altitudes above 4,000 ft above sea-level. The tea is light with a full citrus flavor.

Nilgiris (Nilgiri / Blue Mountain)
South Indian tea growing district in the state of Tamil Nadu, which produces black tea.

Nowgong
One of the seven tea producing districts in Assam.

Oolong
A semi-fermented or semi-green tea produced in China and Formosa.

Pan-fired
A kind of Japan tea that is steamed then rolled in iron pans over charcoal fires.

Plucking plateau
The flat top of the tea bush from which the top two leaf and bud sprouts on sprigs are plucked.

Pouchong
 

A kind of scented China or Formosa tea so called from the Cantonese method of packing tea in small paper packet, each of which was supposed to be the produce of one choice of tea plant.

Russian tea
 

The name given to a glass of hot tea liquor which has been poured into the glass over a slice of lemon. Sometimes sugar or honey is added. In some countries this type of tea drink is known as lemon tea. The name comes from the Russia way of taking tea.

 

Rwanda
 

An African tea producer, whose teas are used for blending purposes. Rwanda tea has a bright coppery color and brisk taste.

Pruning
Selective cutting back of the tea bush, so that maintains its shape and helps to keep it productive.

Saw Mee

Green China tea, a variety of ‘Young Hyson Tea’ is a small, soft, twisted leaf tea.

Scented tea


Green semi-fermented or black teas that have been flavored by the additions of flowers, flower petals, fruits spices or natural oils. Examples of these are Jasmine Tea, Rose Puchong, Orange Tea, Cinnamon Tea or Earl Grey.

Semi-fermented tea


Tea that has been partially fermented before being fired or dried. The tea has the qualities and appearance halfway between a green and black tea.

Sencha
The most popular variety of green tea in Japan.

Sibsagar
A tea growing district in Assam, North India.

Single Estate tea
A blend of teas from one particular estate or garden.

Smoky tea
Black tea from China or Formosa that has been smoked over a wood fire such in the case of Lapsang Souchong.

Specialty tea
A blend of teas that takes its name from the area in which it is grown; a blend of teas blended for a particular person or event, or a blend of teas for a particular time of day.

Spring teas
Formosa teas picked in the April-May season.

Souchong
A large leaf black tea. Originated in China, Souchong tea was made from a small bush whose leaves were allowed to develop to a large size.

Sumatra
A tea producing island of Indonesia.

Summer teas
Formosa teas picked in the June-September season.

Szechwan
A non-smoky black tea from China, with narrow leaves and flowery fragrance. Also a tea growing province in China.

Taiping Houkui (Monkey Tea)

A Baked Green Tea produced in Houngshan, Taiping prefecture in Anhui of China. It's renowned for its "two knives and one pole": two straight leaves clasping the enormous bud with white hairs. The oven-made leaves are deep green in color with red veins underneath. The tea shoots can be as long as 15 centimeters. They are plucked from the Shi Da Cha, a large-leaf variety.

Tannin


The name the tea trade worldwide give to polyphenols contained in tea. Polyphenols are responsible for the pungency of tea and give its taste.

Tanzania
African tea producing country.

Tarry
The smoky aroma and taste associated with a smoked black tea such as Lapsang Souchong.

Tea Horse Road

It is an ‘Ancient Tea Route’ was a network off caravan paths connecting through the mountains of Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou in Southwest China with Burma and Bengal; also known as ‘Southern Silk Road’.

Terai
A North Indian tea growing district just below the Darjeeling district.

Tea factory
Factory where the plucked leaf is made or manufactured into black or green tea.

Tea tree
A tea bush or plant which has been allowed to return to its wild state and grow back into a tree.

Tea taster
An expert judge of leaf and cup quality tea at all stages of production, brokerage blending and final packaging.

Tip
The bud leaves on a tea bush.

The Classic of Tea (Tea Classic)

It is the first know monograph, treatise or an enclyclopaedia on Tea in the world, by a Chinese writer Lu Yu between 760 CE and 762 CE, during the Tang dynasty, perhaps the most famous work on tea written in a condensed, refined. The small book contains 7000 Chinese characters and made up of ‘Three Scrolls Ten Chapters’. ‘The Classic of Tea’ was the first book about general tea knowledge, and contained a brief introduction about tea categories and how to prepare tea.

Twankay


A low grade China green tea. This word was corrupted Twanky, which was applied to the men manning the ships bringing tea back from China. These ships often foundered on reaching the British coast and the bodies of Twankys would be washed ashore to be found by their widows - hence the name given to the Aladdin character 'Widow Twanky' by a Victorian impresario.

Uva
A tea growing district in Sri Lanka which produces a tea of great subtle.

White Tea
White Tea come from the Camellia Sinensis plant, but the leaves are picked and harvested before the leaves open fully, when the buds are still covered by fine white hair.

Yunnan
A tea growing province in china producing a black leaf tea. Along with Assam, this region was the original site of wild tea plants.

Zimbabwe
Tea producing country of Africa.

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