Monday, 27 October 2014

The Lexicon of Tea

I don't drink coffee, I take tea, my dear 
(Englishman in New York, Sting)

Unlike Sting, I do drink coffee, but I am fine going without it for a day or two or longer. Tea is a different thing altogether, I don't think I could function without it. As someone who loves talking about tea, I read an article about the lexicon of tea with great interest. I thought you might love to read it as well.

Tetley introduced tea bags to the UK back in the 1950s and was the first to use perforated tissue for its bags in the 1960s, and in the 1980s launched the first round tea bag. Today, a staggering 36 million cups of Tetley are drunk each day.
What does it take to become a tea taster for Tetley? Have you ever wanted to know about it?

"It takes hard work to become a Tetley Tea Taster, fluent in the art of tea blending and the lexicon that comes with it. The value of knowing the language lies in the need to understand and be completely immersed in the four-step process from crop to cup. It also lies in the ability to distinguish a quality cup in a line-up!

The Tasters use an extensive glossary of terms to define the many variations in terms of their appearance, scent and taste. There are over 200 terms used to describe tea - here are some of our key phrases within our lexicon:

Assam: a black tea grown in the Northeast of India. Assam is a strong, full-bodied tea with a rich and robust flavour, considered by many tea lovers to be a perfect invigorating tea for the morning. Often used in blends because of its strong taste.

Aroma: an important consideration in brewing teas is the smell that is given off. A favourable aroma is most often associated with a flavourful taste.

Black tea: the most commonly consumed tea in the world. Black is one of the three major types of tea, the others being Green and Oolong.

Biscuity: a desirable trait usually referring to a well fired Assam.

Bite: a very brisk and "alive" tea liquor.

Bloom: a sign of good tea picking and sorting (where reduction of leaf has taken place before firing), a 'sheen' that has not been lost through over-handling or over-sorting.

Blend: a mixture of teas from several different origins blended together to achieve a certain flavour profile.

Body: describes tea liquid possessing fullness and strength.

Brisk: describes a lively taste as opposed to a flat or soft tea.

Chai: a blend of black tea with various spices and steamed milk, commonly drunk in India.

Character: an attractive taste, describing teas grown at high altitude.

Coloury: indicates depth of colour and strength.

Dull: tea liquid not clear or bright in colour

Dust: a term that is used to describe the smallest particles of tea leaf.

Fine: teas of exceptional quality and flavor.

Flat: a tea that is not fresh. Tea tends to lose its characteristics and taste with age, unlike some wines that mature with age.

Green tea: tea that undergoes minimal processing and most resembles the original green leaf.

Hard: a desirable quality suggesting pungency, particularly applied to Assam teas.

Harsh: refers to a tea bitter in taste – a possible result from picking (plucking) tea before it is ready.

Jasmine: a green tea to which Jasmine flowers are added.

Leaf: a tea where the leaf tends to be on the large or longish size.

Malty: desirable character in some Assam teas. A full, bright tea with a malty taste.

Metallic: an undesirable trait , leaving a metallic taste in the mouth.

Nose: a term used to connote a good aroma of tea.

Plain: describes teas that are clean and innocuous but lacking character.

Powdery: ‘fine, light dust’ as the tea people say, meaning a very fine, light leaf particle.

Pungent: describes a tea liquid with a marked briskness and an astringent effect on the palate without a bitterness.

Sparkle: clarity and purity of colour, from grey to pure colour.

Toasty: a tea that has been slightly over fired during processing. It may be a desirable characteristic in some Darjeeling teas.

Woody: a characteristic reminiscent of freshly cut timber. This trait is usually associated with teas processed very late in the season.

Zing: overall quality impression of the tea on the palate; the balance of character and taste in the tea.

Disclosure: I received a selection of Tetley tea as a thank you for sharing this article.

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