Tea Tasting Cup

Tea Tasters’ Terms

APPEARANCE

Black—Leaf black in colour, a descriptive term usually applied to low-country teas and those made from high jat leaf. Most teas are black, but unsatisfactory withering, under-rolling and excessive handling reduces the degree of blackness.

Bold—Refers to size of leaf and indicates that the pieces of leaf are big.

Brownish—Mainly describes teas made from low jat leaf which are never really black. The term, however, may be used in the case of teas which have become brownish as the result of faulty methods of manufacture and bad plucking. See ‘choppy,’ ‘flaky,’ ‘grey’ and stalk’.

Choppy—Leaf chopped in a breaker or cutter rather than broken in the roller.

Even—Leaf true to grade and consisting of pieces of roughly equal size.

Flaky—Leaf not twisted, but in flakes. Results from poor withers under-rolling and excessive breaking or cutting of the made tea, and also from the manufacture of hard leaf. Insufficient winnowing is also a contributory cause. Flaky teas do not appear as black as well twisted leaf.

Grainy—Term applied to well made fannings and dusts, as opposed to ‘leafy’. A grade which is grainy is generally smaller in size than one which is leafy.

Grey—Leaf grey in colour. Results from too much cutting and excessive handling during sifting. Since the colour change is due to the dried coating of juices on the leaf being rubbed off, a loss of some soluble matter must be expected when a tea becomes grey.

Irregular—Uneven grades.

Leafy—Used to indicate rather bold leaf in broken grades, particularly in fannings.

Make— A well made tea, true to type and appearance.

Mixed—Leaf of different grades and size bulked together.

Open—See ‘flaky.’

Ragged—A tea that is not carefully graded, being uneven and irregular in appearance and size.

Stalk— Applies to the presence of red pieces of stalk in a tea. Its method of elemination obviously lies in an improvement in the standard of plucking and extra care taken in picking it out during sorting.

Rey—Leaf grey in colour. Results from too much cutting and excessive handling during sifting. Since the colour change is due to the dried coating of juices on the leaf being rubbed off, a loss of some soluble matter must be expected when a tea becomes grey.

Irregular—Uneven grades.

Leafy—Used to indicate rather bold leaf in broken grades, particularly in fannings.

Mixed—Leaf of different grades and size bulked together.

Open—See ‘flaky.’

Ragged—A tea that is not carefully graded, being uneven and irregular in appearance and size.

Stalk— Applies to the presence of red pieces of stalk in a tea. Its method of elemination obviously lies in an improvement in the standard of plucking and extra care taken in picking it out during sorting.

Tip—Term used to describe the silver or golden coloured pieces of leaf. Unless hairs are present on the buds of a shoot tip cannot be made. It can be destroyed by over-withering, hard rolling and excessive handling. Tip is a feature of low-country teas and seldom or never enhances the value of an up-country tea.

Wiry—Term used for a very well twisted O.P. of thin leaf as opposed to ‘open.

INFUSION (The infused leaf)

Bright—A good colour and need not necessarily be coppery. A favourable characteristic, generally denoting a good tea.

Coppery—Describes the infusion of a tea which is copper coloured. It is more an inherent character than one developed in the process of manufacture.

Dark or dull—Dark brownish or dull green in colour, as opposed to ‘bright.’ A derogatory characteristic rarely associated with a good liquor, and may at times be a natural property of the leaf. Manufacturing conditions which bring about it are heat, over-fermentation and bacterial infection.

Greenish—Mainly an inherent character unless it has been the result of under-rolling and under-fermentation. A bright greenish infusion is not unfavourable.

Mixed or Uneven—An infusion of different colours. Results from mixed jat, coarse plucking and under-rolling. Hard rolling and the use of small roll-breaker mesh would bring about an improvement.

LIQUOR

Bakey—An over-fired tea.

Body—A strong liquor as opposed to one which is ‘thin’. The difference between these terms may be illustrated by the difference between watery milk and full rich creamy milk. Generally speaking, liquors from high jat leaf possess more ‘body’ than those from low jat leaf. In manufacture, insufficient expression of juice from the leaf is the main cause of a tea lacking body’ or ‘fullness’.

Brassy—A term seldom use for teas made by orthodox methods. May refer to a liquor with a bitter taste. A possible cause is unwithered leaf.

Bright—Bright in colour and clear, as opposed to ‘dull’, with some briskness.

Brisk—Having a ‘live’ characteristic. A tea properly fermented, correctly fired and well preserved. Opposite of’soft.’

Character—Prominence of some special characteristic which may be pungency, quality or flavour peculiar to the district from which the tea comes.

Coarse—A liquor which may have some strength but is deficient in quality. Some low-country teas are supposed to have a ‘coarse’ character.

Coloury—This term is used to describe a tea which possesses sufficient colour to bring it into a special category.

Cream—A cloudiness obtained when a strong tea cools.

Dull—An undesirable characteristic in a tea mainly caused by overfermentation. Opposite of ‘bright.’

Dry—Slight bakiness.

Flat—Denotes a tea that has gone off. No ‘live’ character and opposed to ‘briskness’. It is generally the result of over-exposure, and is also due to storage at too high a moisture content, or for too long a time.

Flavour—The distinctive aroma of high grown teas, made during cold and dry weather.

Fruity—This term may denote a taint or some peculiar characteristic of the tea arising from very long withers and leaf kept too long in a wet condition. The liquor acquires an over ripe taste.

Full—A strong, coloury tea with no bitterness or coarse character.

Gone off—See ‘flat.’

Greenish—A bitter taste and an unpleasant astringency. May be an inherent character. Can be caused by over-withered leaf and underfermentation.

Harsh—Teas with too green a character.

Light—Not to be confused with’thin. ‘ Pale in colour but does not necessarily denote a poor tea. Some of the best high grown teas are light, mainly due to a property of the leaf. A frequent cause of light liquors is tough banji. Probable manufacturing

faults:— Over-withering, under-rolling and too short a fermentation.

Malty—An inherent character of the leaf. The way in which, or the stage at which, it is developed during manufacture is still obscure. It is a desirable characteristic.

Mature—A term used to distinguish a fresh tea from one that has been stored for some time. As a result of’post fermentation’ occuring after a tea is fired, it loses some of its astringent character and becomes •mature.’ It should not be ‘flat,’ but have a ’round’ ‘mellow’ character.

Mellow—Opposite to ‘greenish,’ ‘harsh,’ ‘raw,’ ‘rasping,’ etc.

Metallic—See ‘brassy.’

Nose—Means some aroma on the dry leaf or in the liquor. May be good or bad.

Plain—Lacking in desirable characteristics, particularly quality. Generally describes a liquor with no standout character. May be brought about by seasonal changes, rapid growth, coarse plucking and any method in manufacture which destroys quality.

Point—Accentuated briskness and a very desirable characteristic. See ‘brisk.*

Pungent—Astringency without bitterness. May mean a tea with more marked ‘point*. A seasonal characteristic, which can be destroyed by prolonged withering and fermentation.

Rasping— Akin to ‘harsh.’

Row—Same as ‘harsh’ and ‘Rasping.’

Round—See ‘full’ and ‘mellow.’

Smooth—Means more or less the same thing as ’round.’ Not so pronounced as a ‘full’ liquor in colour and strength.

Soft—Teas without point or briskness. Not as poor a term as ‘flat,’ nevertheless denotes a lack of’life.’ Mainly caused by over-fermenting, and too high a moisture content.

Sour—A sourish taste through bacterial infection. Rarely an inherent character. The main factors bringing about this characteristic are slow removal of surface moisture from wet leaf and unclean rolling and fermenting conditions.

Stewed—A tea lacking in aroma with an undesirable liquor character, and is due to an excessive loss of essential oils resulting from teas being ‘stewed’ in the initial stages of firing. The remedy lies in thinner spreading and quicker firing at a higher exhaust temperature in order to increase the rate of evaporation of water.

Strong—(Strength) See ‘body.’ Teas with good strength cream down well and need not necessarily be coloury.

Sweaty—A tea with a strange and most unpleasant taste. A taint probably acquired in a similar manner as that described as ‘fruity’ and ‘sour’.

Sweet—A light liquor and not of very good quality.

Tainted—An objectionable flavour. There are several ways in , which a taint may be acquired Some may probably be absorbed by the 1 plant from the soil, whilst others may result from the spraying or dusting 1 of certain insecticides. As distinct from these chemical taints, those that are produced during the processing of tea mostly arise from bacterial infection. Withering or fermenting being carried out too far under damp, unclean conditions is generally responsible for musty off-flavours, such as ‘sour,’ ‘fruity’ and ‘sweaty’. Additional taints may be acquired when tea comes in contact with or is stored in the proximity of odour-bearing materials at any stage in’ manufacture. Some odour taints may get volatilized in the process of firing but a ‘tatty’ taint, for example, which results from unwashed hessian may persist.

Tatty—A taint from hessian.

Thick—Denotes a strong liquor.

Thin—The reverse of ‘thick,’ A tea with little strength. If not the result of an inherent property of the leaf, lack of strength in a liquor is usually due to very hard withers, under-rolling or high rolling temperatures.

Washy—A very thin liquor, lacking in strength.

Weak—Similar to ‘washy’.

Weathery—A term descriptive of a soft character associated with teas made during very wet weather. Attributed to unsatisfactory withering conditions.

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