Tea Glossary

Tea - Is processed from the leaves and buds of the Camellia Sinensis" plant. The plant is an evergreen shrub, which in it's natural state, grows to about 15-30 feet tall. For tea plucking, it is normally pruned to a height of 3-5 feet. The plants' blossoms are white and resemble a wild rose.

Aroma - The odor of the tea liquor and infused leaf, also called nose or fragrance. A complex aroma is often described as a bouquet.

Body - In black teas, full body denotes a strong, thick, concentrated infusion. In general, a pungent and full flavored cup.

Flavor - A characteristic of the fine quality known as the sweet or honey like aroma (complex taste). A bouquet that can be tasted as well as sniffed would be flavory.

Flowery - A characteristic of the fragrant aroma of many teas grown high up in Ceylon and South India. Also in layman terms, the aroma from a quality blended tea that may have the actual flower used in the blend, such as Jasmine.

Fruity - In blacks or oolongs, a reference to the taint of a bacteria, however a sought after quality of oolongs.

Pungent - An astringent puckery sensation given to the gums. It is a quality of of the liquor and not of the flavor. Also called bite.

Self-Drinking - Said of a tea that possesses all the requisites of quality and thus does not need blending.

Smokey - A desirable characteristic fragrance and flavor of China teas, especially Lapsang Souchong.

Winey - A fine Darjeeling or Keemun properly kept six months to a year or more may take on a mellow winey character.

Common Leaf & Grade Descriptions

OP - (orange pekoe) Long thin wiry leaves which sometimes contain yellow tip or leaf buds. The liquors are light and pale in color. This is not a kind of tea, but merely a term used to describe a certain size of tea leaf.

BOP - (broken orange pekoe) The smallest of the leaf grades. The liquor usually has good color with strength in the cup and is very useful in many blends.

TGFOP - (tippy golden flowery orange pekoe) This grade represents some of the most precious tea in the world. It is not uncommon to see whole leaves in their original state, even after brewing. The tip on these leaves can make up as much as a fourth of a whole leaf.

Pekoe - The leaves of this grade are shorter and not as wiry as an orange pekoe. In Europe, this type of leaf is often referred to as curly.

Souchong - A bold flat leaf, often light in liquor. Formosa and China are the most common producers of this grade.

Fanning - Much smaller than a BOP. It's main characteristics are quick brewing with good color in the cup. For use in tea bags only.

Dust - Is the smallest grade produced. Very useful for quick brewing a cup of tea. Dusts are manufactured in all qualities.