Attractive - Quality made with uniform color and size leaf.
Autumnal - A seasonal term applied to teas grown during the period.
Bakery - Unpleasant taste caused by excessive temperatures during the firing process resulting in a loss of moisture.
Body - A liquor possessing fullness/richness and strength.
Bold - Pieces of leaf that are too big for the grade it's in.
Bright - A cup displaying a "liveliness"-as opposed to dull and lifeless.
Brisk - A "live" taste in the liquor vs. flat or soft.
Burnt - An undesirable note in teas that have been exposed to excessive heat during processing.
Ceylon - This island off the coast of India produces superb teas. Currently known as Sri Lanka, it was once known only for its coffee. In 1867, a Scotsman named James Taylor, planted 19 acres of tea plant seeds and well, the rest is history.
Character - An intangible quality in a tea that identifies its origin of growth.
Chunky - A tea that possesses large sized tips - something to look for.
Color - A measure of the depth of the tea's physical color. Based on season/growth/grade factors.
Coppery - This term describes the color of the infused leaf and denotes quality.
Cream - The "cloudiness" one notices upon the cooling down of brewed tea. A bright color denotes quality.
CTC - "CUT-TORN-CRUSHED" In the name of efficiency, this mechanized method of harvesting the leaf replaced the kinder, gentler orthodox method sometime early in the 20th century.
Cut - A method of leaf production that utilizes a "breaker" as opposed to a "roller" AKA:Orthodox method.
Dry - Slightly bakey or high fired. Once again, a quality that denotes an over-processed tea.
Dull - Lacking in sheen/lifeless.
Even - This term applies to a bright, coppery tea that has no unevenness in color.
Fermentation - This process applies mostly to black teas. The withered and rolled leaves are again spread out on a table and allowed to ferment for up to five hours; Oolongs for a lesser period, greens not at all. The longer the leaf ferments, the darker it becomes. This part of the processing alters the flavor of the tea, allowing the constituents of the tea to emerge, thus it is a critical step in achieving the ultimate "cuppa" tea.
Firing - This step merely involves heating the now fermented leaves to a constant temperature of 120F, thereby stopping the fermentation process. This is where Black tea turns black and is just about 100% dry, maintaining only 2-3% of its' original moisture content. Too much heat can produce a loss of flavor, color and aroma. While this process is critical to the making of Black teas, Oolongs and Green teas are fired as well, albeit for a shorter time.
Flaky - A flat, open leaf which has been improperly withered and rolled.
Flat - Usually a symptom of old or improperly stored tea. The briskness of the brew is lacking.
Flushes - This term applies to the new growth of leaves and buds of the tea plant. There are usually 3 flushes on the average-some temperate regions with their year round hot weather can produce up to 10 flushes.
Full - A term used to describe a full-bodied tea with color and strength.
Golden Tip - A quality to look for in a tea. This denotes proper withering and rolling.
Grainy - Well made hard leaf.
Green - Typical of first flush-lacks depth. Generally an undesirable quality.
Large - Pertaining to leaf grade/size. Applies to a leaf that is too large for its grade.
Milled - This applies to tea that is cut and ground with a cutter machine.
Mixed - Teas that have other grades of teas added to them.
Moldy - This denotes an old improperly stored tea or one that has been exposed to moisture/water.
Musty - Also pertaining to mold.
Neat - A desirable quality: a well made tea that has an attractive quality.
Old - Flavor/palette lost to age.
Orthodox - Tea was processed this way for centuries, by hand, with great care. Some of today's fine teas are still produced in this manner.
Polyphenols - A component of tea, they account for approximately 30% of the soluble matter in tea. Modern science has learned that these compounds are potent cancer fighters, immune stimulants, as well as antioxidants.
Pungent - Very brisk-look for this.
Ragged - Rough an uneven leaf.
Rolling - Twisting the leaf bruises it while releasing enzymes that react to the air. This chemical process is called oxidation. Twisted leaves make a better cup of tea by allowing the leaf to give up its essences slower, making the tea smoother and milder.
Shotty - Well-made and rolled, usually applies to Orthodox teas.
Small - A grade of tea that has a smaller size leaf than it normally has.
Stalky - A byproduct of sloppy plucking-excessive amount of tea plant stalk is visible.
Strength - A "presence" of body in the mouth.
Stylish - Neat with premium quality leaf apparent.
Thin - Teas lacking in body that have been over withered and/or inadequate fermentation.
Twist - When referring to whole leaf teas, the leaf has a "rolled" appearance denoting careful processing.
Well-Made - All is well here! Beautiful color of the leaf, even texture and size.
Wild - An undesirable quality usually found in end-of-season teas. A harshness/thinness is apparent.
Withering - A process that removes moisture from the freshly plucked leaf. The leaves are spread on trays in a cool room for a period of 24 hours. The resulting leaf is soft and pliable and has lost about 50% of it's weight.