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Tea Glossary

Our glossary is constantly updated. If you have any questions about tea and tea culture, don't hesitate to contact us.

 

A   B   C  D  E   F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

A:

Ancient Six Tea Mountains – the Six ancient tea mountains are famous for their Pu-erh tea production. These mountains are Youle, Mangzhi, Manzhuan, Yibang, Gedeng, and Mansa. All of them lie within the Lancang river system. The pu-erh tea produced there varies greatly in terms of taste and aroma. 

 

Asamushi-cha (浅蒸し茶) – lightly-steamed sencha (or some other Japanese Green Tea). Typically, the steaming process for green tea (Futsuumushicha 普通蒸し茶) runs for about 30-45 seconds. Asamushicha, on the other hand, is steamed for about 30 seconds or even less. As a result, the tea preserves its freshness.

 

Assam Tea – is a sultry, malty black tea from India. Assam is one of the most popular teas from the region. Assam is widely used as both – low grade, ‘better tastes with milk’, crush-tear-and-curl leaf style tea; as well as high grade, hand picked, carefully produced black tea.

   

B:

Bancha – means “common tea” and refers to a lower grade of Japanese green tea, senchathat is harvested during the summer and autumn. Bancha usually consists of larger leaves and upper stems, which are discarded during the production of sencha. Compared to sencha, bancha is less aromatic and more astringent. Nonetheless, bancha is much appreciated in Japan for its more robust flavor.

 

Bai Cha – White Tea, referring to the least oxidated and minimally processed tea.

   

Baozhong also known as pouchong, is a lightly oxidized oolong tea that falls close to green tea. It is known for its freshness and pleasant floral notes but lack of green teas' sharpness. It is being produced primarily Taiwan though originated in Fujian, China.

 

Boiling tea – is one of the ancient methods of making tea that is still widely practiced today. To learn how to boil tea and which teas are suitable for boiling, read our blog post

  

Black Teaas it's called in the West, or "Hong Cha" (Red Tea) as it’s called in Asia, is well known as an afternoon tea because of its mellow and sweet flavor. 

Unlike green tea processing which attempts to preserve the green color of fresh tea leaves, black tea processing encourages the tea leaves to oxidize and change color from green to coppery-red. This change in leaf color is referred to as oxidation.

Being fully oxidized, Black (or Red) Tea has dark leaves and produces a deep colored liquid. As well as tender, profound characteristics.

Most black teas brew best at water temperatures of around 195-205ºF (90-95ºC).

 

Bruising (Zuo Qing – 做青): One of the main steps in processing Oolong tea. Zuo Qing is a series of shaking and resting the leaves to start partial oxidation. The leaves are gently swirled in a circular motion, then left to rest. It leads to the famous "green leaf, red edge" expression, which characterizes the look of the Oolong tea leaves after this stage. It is crucial for the creation of Oolong tea's unique aroma and taste.

   

Bud – when used in reference to tea the word ‘bud’ usually means a young and unopened tea leaf rather than a flower bud. The finest and most prized teas are made of unopened buds.

 

Butter tea – originated in the Tibetan Himalayas but is now commonly enjoyed throughout Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, India, western China, and Mongolia. To make butter tea, four ingredients are needed: tea leaves, butter, water, and salt. To learn more about butter tea and how to make it, read our blog post.

 

C:

Camellia Sinensis – is the plant from which all teas derive. It's a sub-tropical, evergreen plant native to China. However since the early 19th century, when it was brought to India, it is grown around the world. Depending on the season when the leaves of Camellia Sinensis are harvested and on the different techniques that are used to process the leaves after the harvest, different kinds of tea come to life. Therefore "tea" is everything that is derived from the Camellia Sinensis plant. There are different varietals of the Camellia Sinensis plant. The most common ones are Camellia Sinensis var. Sinensis and Camellia Sinensis var. Assamica.

Plants that don't belong to the Camellia Sinensis family, while sometimes called "tea", are more accurately referred to as herbal tea or tisane. Tisanes include chamomile, rooibos and fruit teas.

 

Camellia Sinensis var. Assamica – is one of the tea varieties, and it is often referred to as Da Ye Zhong in Chinese, meaning "big leaf". Indeed, this Camellia Sinensis variety is known for its larger tea leaves. This variety grows not as cultivated buses of var. Sinensis but as wild trees, often with strong trunks. This tea variety is known to have a slightly higher caffeine content than Camellia Sinensis var. Sinensis. Yunnan native, this varietal is used to produce pu-erh tea, Dian Hong (Yunnan black tea), and Yunnan white tea.

 

Camellia Sinensis var. Sinensis – is the most common, cultivated tea varietal. 

 

Camellia Taliensis – is a Yunnan large leaf tea varietal, and it grows in the form of a small tree or evergreen shrub. Unlike cultivated Camellia Sinensis, C.Taliensis is a wild plant. Today, C.Taliensis is an endangered species due to over-picking of the leaves for the tea market and deforestation of the plant's natural habitat. 

  

Cha (茶) – tea in Chinese. Cha is the second most consumed drink in the world, surpassed only by water. What comes as a surprise to many is that all teas (i.e. White, Green, YellowOolong, Black, and Pu'erh) come from the same plant – Camellia Sinensis.

Camellia Sinensis is a sub-tropical, evergreen plant native to China. However, since the early 19th century after it was brought to India, it has been grown all around the world. Depending on the season and the time when the leaves are harvested, as well as the processing technique used after the harvest, several forms of tea come to life. Therefore, "tea" is everything that is derived from the Camellia Sinensis plant.

Anything else, while sometimes called "tea", is more accurately referred to as an herbal tea or tisane. Tisanes include chamomile, rooibos and fruit teas.

 

 

Cha Bu (茶布) – "tea cloth", table runner

 

Cha Dao or Cha Do (茶道) – "teaism" or "the way of tea" – the terms that are used in reference to a tea-culture that is cultivating is cultivating certain aesthetics, as well as a sense of focus and concentration while making and tasting tea.


Cha Do is a long established Japanese tea tradition formalized by the great tea-master Sen no Rikyu who has lived in the 16th century.

The term Cha Dao can refer to a number of various regional Chinese tea traditions.

 

Cha Dao may also refer to set of utensils used in Gong Fu Cha. The Cha Dao Liu Jun Zi (茶道六君子) – Six Gentlemen of Tea Ceremony (six basic tools for Chinese Cha Dao) are:

  • Utensils holder (Cha Dao Tong – 茶道筒)
  • Tea scoop (Cha Shao – 茶勺)
  • Funnel (Cha Lou –  茶漏 or 茶漏斗)
  • Tweezers/tongs (Cha Jia – 茶夹)
  • Spoon (Cha Chi – 茶匙)
  • Tea Needle (Cha Zhen –  茶针)

 

Chagama (or Kama) – a kettle or a cast iron pot used in a Japanese tea ceremony to heat the water for tea 

  

Cha Gao (茶膏)  means 'tea paste'. However, the substance is not at all pasty and is more like a solidified rock, which dissolves in hot water. Essentially, it is a form of instant pu-erh. Although the production methods were mostly abandoned after the Qing Dynasty, today it is slowly being revived.

Nowadays, Cha Gao is often associated with a cheaper form of pu-erh, because in most cases, it is not produced correctly. A good Cha Gao is characterized by a sweet woody taste, with notes of cocoa, as well as a unique fragrance. The taste, however, is quite different from a typical shou pu-erh

There are crucial steps to the process:

• Boiling. The tea leaves are soaked in hot water and then left to further cook on a low heat for several days. This process concludes when all the water has been boiled off, and only a thick black gooey resin is left.
 
• Drying. The resin is then spread out and dried until it becomes hard as a rock and slightly sticky.
 
• Aging. The hard resin is then aged for another year. This step is of the essence if you want to end up with a smooth tasting cha gao. Unfortunately, many retailers may skip this step to speed up the process. Cha gao that hasn't been sufficiently aged will have a funky smell and taste. Well-aged cha gao develops iconic wave-like patterns.

    About one kilogram of tea leaves is required to produce only 200 grams of cha gao.

      

    Cha Hai (茶海) – ‘sea of tea’ is a vessel that serves to control the strength of the brew. After brewing the tea for a certain amount of time either in a teapot or in gaiwantea should be decanted into a Cha Hai, from which it gets poured into individual cups. This method ensures that the tea leaves do not continue to steep in between each pour. It is also called ‘Gong Dao Bei’ (公道杯) – ‘justice cup’ or ‘bowl of impartiality’ because it lets each participant enjoy the same brew.

      

    Cha He (茶盒) – ‘tea box’ – a vessel for the introduction of tea. It is customary in China to first look at the tea in the cha he and then ‘deep face’ into it; inhaling, exhaling, and inhaling once more, deeply through the nose. It allows for the participants to evaluate the tea that they will be drinking, be introduced to the look and aroma of the tea leaves and to gently ‘wake’ up the tea by warming it with the breath.

     

    Cha Hu (茶壶) – teapot

     

    Cha Hui (茶会) – tea party

      

    Chai – meaning ‘spiced tea’, is an Indian beverage made of black tea, milk, spices, herbs and sweeteners. Spices added to Chai vary from region to region, as well as from one household to another. Among the most commonly used spices are cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and pepper. Usually, whole-fat cow milk (or water buffalo milk in India) is used to prepare chai, with 1 part water and 2 parts milk. The mix is heated up to a near-boiling point. Then, black tea mixed with spices is added to steep. The most commonly used tea is Assam (Indian black tea) or in some areas, gunpowder tea. At the end of making Chai, sugar, honey and sometimes condensed milk is added to the tea.

    Drinking Chai is an essential part of everyday life in India.

     

    Cha Jia (茶夹) – tweezers used for picking up a hot cup, or to pick a tea leaf out of a tea vessel.   

     

    Cha Ji – is a full length formal Japanese Matcha Tea Ceremony (see Cha No Yu) with only a few invited guests, full meal and both Koicha and Usucha served. Such formal gathering may take 2-3 hours.

     

    Cha Kai  Japanese tea gathering which everyone is welcomed to join. Usually there are several servings of tea happening in different tea-rooms.

     

    Cha Lou (茶漏 or 茶漏斗) – tea funnel used for directing the flow of dry tea leaves into a tea pot while preventing the overflow.

     

    Cha No Yu – meaning 'The Way of Tea' is the traditional Japanese tea (matchaceremony. Cha No Yu ceremony plays an important role in Japanese culture and is not just the process of tea making, but also a ritual and a social event. The practice originated from Zen Buddhism.

    Powdered tea was first introduced to Japan in the 12th century by a Japanese Buddhist priest, Eisai, who traveled to China to study and returned to the homeland having acquired new customs. Powdered green tea became an essential feature of the Zen monastic tradition and was used as an aid for staying alert during long periods of meditation.

    The guiding principles of chanoyu as expressed by Sen Rikyu are:

    • Harmony (Wa): harmony between guests, hosts, nature, and setting
    • Respect (Kei): sincerity towards one another, regardless of the rank or status of the participants
    • Purity (Sei): to spiritually cleanse oneself – to be of pure mind and heart
    • Tranquility (Jaku): the inner peace that results from observing the first three principles.
     

    In addition to these principles, the essence of chanoyu is embodied in the concept of ichi-go ichi-e (“one time, one meeting”). It means to be aware that each tea gathering is a once in a lifetime event, never to occur again. For this reason, the sharing of a bowl of tea should be conducted with humility and the utmost sincerity.

     

    Chaozhou – is the area in Guangdong, Fenghuang Mountain where Gong Fu Cha originated. Gong Fu Cha once referred explicitly to brewing tea the way they brew it in Chaozhou. With the spread of gongfu tea across the world, the lines became blurred. Nowadays, Chaozhou gong fu cha is a term used to refer to the original gongfu brewing methods, used by people living in Guangdong province. It doesn’t have as many steps as the modern Gong Fu Cha and doesn’t require as many tea utensils. You can learn more about it here and also here.

     

    Cha Pan (茶盘) – is the tray or table for Chinese tea ceremony on which tea objects are kept and tea is prepared. Since plenty of water gets spilled during a traditional ceremony, it is very useful to keep an empty tray underneath the openings of the cha ban.

     

    Cha Qi (茶气 / 氣) Qi in Chinese is the life force behind all things, and Cha Qi is the life force of the tea. To better understand what Cha Qi is read our article on the subject

     

    Cha Shao (茶勺) – scooper used in gongfu to transfer tea from the tea container to the cha he.

     

    Cha Chi (茶匙) – a stick or a spoon used in Gongfu Cha to transfer tea from the Cha He into a brewing vessel. 

     

    Chasen – whisk used for matcha powder.

     

    Chasen Kusenaoshi – holder for chasen.

      

    Chashaku – scoop used for matcha.

     

    Cha Tong – a container used to store the tea utensils.

     

    Chawan – bowl used to whisk matcha. It is also used as the drinking cup.

     

    Cha Xi (茶席) – "tea space" or "tea mat"; usually refers to the arrangement of tea utensils aimed to create a visually pleasing combination during tea ceremony – Gong Fu Cha.

     

    Cha Yi (茶艺) – arts related to the brewing, drinking, and serving of tea. 

     

    Cha Yu – a bowl used in Gan Pao ("Dry Brewing") to discard the water and tea

      

    Cha Zhen (茶针) – "tea needle". A pin used for clearing the small filtering holes in teapot, which can get blocked by the tea leaves.

      

    Cha Zui (茶醉) – 'Tea Drunk' or 'Tea High'. It is the feeling we get from the psychoactive components of Camellia Sinensis, the plant from which all teas are made from. This plant has several vital components that give us the feeling of being tea drunk. Such elements are: caffeine – provides energy; L-theanine – stimulates alpha brain waves and by doing so puts us in a state of alertness and creativity; and catechins – the antioxidants. 

    Being tea drunk or high on tea one may feel very light, almost flying. Creative. Emotional and introspective. Uplifted, happy, giggly and silly. Content, peaceful and blissful. Meditative and philosophic. Trippy. Relaxed. Feeling a deep connection with everything and everyone around you. If you are drinking tea with family or friends, you might feel exceptionally grateful to be in their company at the moment.

    The best teas for getting tea drunk are the high-quality teas that have the highest content of the elements mentioned above. For example, shade-grown Japanese green teas, such as Matcha and Gyokuro; Teas made from the very top leaves and the buds, such as Bai Hao Yin Zhen (Silver Needle) White Tea; and aged tea, such as Fuding Shou Mei White Tea. More oxidized teas such as Oolong (especially the dark ones) and red (black) teas are not ideal for reaching the state of being tea drunk.

     

    Chen Wei ( 陈味) – "Old Flavor", is a Chinese term used to describe the distinct taste that a tea develops after being aged.

     

    Chong Shi Cha (蟲屎茶) – literally means "Insects' Excrement Tea". This strange kind of tea is produced in the most natural way - a moth lays its eggs on leaves, and when caterpillars hatch from them, they eat these same leaves and poop on them. Then, farmers collect the poop and brew it. There are many variations in the manufacturing of such tea. The raw material can be different. For example, it can be fresh leaves of different cultivars and varietals or ready-made tea. Insects can also be of various kinds - the finished product's taste heavily depends on their specific species. And the finished product can come in various forms: it can be carefully sorted excrements or excrements mixed with the remains of plant materials. But the essence of Chong Shi Cha remains unchanged: it's a product of deep processing. Studies show that Chong Shi Cha contains a lot of antioxidants and other health-beneficial elements. 

     

    Chumushi-cha (中蒸し茶) – refers to mid-steamed Japanese Green Teas, usually sencha. It's the mid-way between Asamushi and Fukamushi, when the tea is steamed for about 30-45 seconds. It can also be called Futsuumushicha (普通蒸し茶) – the standard tea.

     

    D:

    Dan Cong Oolong, also known as Fenghuang Dan Cong in China or Phoenix Dan Cong in the West, is an oolong tea from Guangdong province in southern China.

    The word "Dan Cong" translates as "single bush”. A Dan Cong “garden” greatly differs from your typical tea garden. Whereas most tea gardens have short tea bushes growing in rows and pretty much similar in shape, what makes Dan Cong tea bushes special is that they are more wild. No Dan Cong bush is the same. In fact, they resemble trees more than bushes and grow pretty chaotically, sometimes reaching 16 ft in height. 

    This is true to all teas, but especially with Dan Cong oolong, no batch is like the other because of how “wild” these trees are. But what makes Dan Cong really special are the distinct varieties, each which resemble their own aroma. Currently, there are at least 10 Dan Cong varieties available, with new ones still being cultivated and discovered. When a tea farmer discovers a new and unique flavor profile from their Dan Cong tree they work hard to preserve it. Among the already discovered varieties are: Ya Shi Xiang also known as Duck Shit Aroma OolongMi Lan Xiang (honey orchid fragrance), Ye Lai Xiang (milky-jasmine aroma)Some of the other varieties of Dan Cong oolongs include: Yu Lan Xiang (magnolia fragrance), Xin Ren Xiang (almond fragrance), Zhi Lan Xiang (orchid fragrance), Po Tou Xiang (ginger blossom fragrance), Huang Zhi Xiang (geranium fragrance), You Hua Xiang (pomelo blossom fragrance), Rou Gui Xiang (cinnamon fragrance) Gui Hua Xiang (osmanthus blossom fragrance), and Mo Li Xiang (jasmine fragrance).

     

    Dian Hong – translates as "Yunnan Red", where "Dian" means Yunnan in the local language, and "hong" means red and refers to hongcha – what we call "black tea" in the West. Most of the Yunnan black tea is produced in the Fenqing area. For Dian Hong, tea farmers use Camellia Sinensis var. Assamica, large leaf tea species (Da Ye Zhong). The collected leaves undergo several stages of processing:

    • whithering
    • rolling
    • oxidation
    • shaping
    • baking

    Only buds and top leaves are used for Dian Hong tea, and the tender young leaves are often covered in golden "hair," giving the Dian Hong tea its signature look.

     

    Dry Brewing (Gan Pao, 干泡) – is a tea brewing method that emphasizes aesthetics and cleanliness in the tea setting. Developed in Taiwan in the recent decades, it combines elements of the Japanese Tea Ceremony (Cha No Yu) with those of Gong Fu Cha. Unlike the traditional Gong Fu Cha method in mainland China, where water is often poured on the outside of the teapot to warm it up, Gan Pao utilizes only the inside of the brewing vessels, eliminating the need for a Tea Tray (Cha Pan) to collect water. Instead, a Tea Bowl (Cha Yu) is used to discard the water and tea. The tea setting (Cha Xi) for Gan Pao should be minimalistic and uncluttered, providing a serene and peaceful environment for tea brewing and drinking.

     

    Duan Ni (緞泥) – is a type of the famous Yixing clay (ZiSha) that comes from Jiangsu province of China, situated by the delta of Yangtze River. "Duan Ni" translates as "fortified clay". Duanni teaware comes in various colors: from beige, to golden to light yellow or even blue and green. Duan Ni clay teapots are more porous and absorbent than other Yixing clays and retain heat quite well. This type of clay is high in minerals and can profoundly transform the taste of tea. 

     

    Dynasties – when talking about Chinese history and milestones of tea development, we often refer to Chinese Imperial Dynasties. These references may be a bit confusing, so here is a concise summary of the few dynasties that are most relevant to the tea culture:

    • According to the legend, tea was discovered by the legendary Chinese Emperor and herbalist Shennong, in 2737 BCE, before the Dynasties times.

    Qin Dynasty (221-206 BCE) – though short-lived, this dynasty marks the beginning of the Chinese Empire.

    Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 AD) – the Golden Age of Ancient China. During this time, porcelain was invented, the Silk Road trade route was established, and Buddhism made its way to China. This is the time of the first physical evidence of tea, as found in the mausoleum of the Han Emperor Jing (141BCE). During the Han Dynasty, tea was used as medicine.

    Tang Dynasty (618-906) – another high point and golden age in Chinese history. This was the period when poetry, crafts, and culture truly flourished, and so did tea. Lu Yu, the Tea-Sage, lived during this era (733-804) and wrote his famous "The Classic of Tea". At that time, processed tea was compressed into cakes to be later ground into powder form and boiled.

    Song Dynasty (960-1279) – powdered tea made its way to Japan and is known today as matcha. In China, this tea-making method got lost with the Mongols invasion in the 1260s and the establishment of the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368).

    Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) – the period known (among other things, of course) for its blue-and-white Ming porcelain, the birth of oolong teas, and yixing teaware. The Ming Dynasty was when the tea brewing method that we know today started to form.

    Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) – the last Imperial Dynasty that ended with the abdication of the last Emperor. Succeeded by the Republic of China. Qing Emperors were ethnic Manchus. In the early Qing Dynasty, tea oxidation was mastered, and therefore different types of tea appeared.

     

    E:

     

    F:

    First Flush Tea – first buds (unopened tea leaves) of the season. These tender young leaves are highly prized for their soft, smooth and naturally sweet flavors. Typically, it is Indian teas which are referred to as ‘first flush’. Chinese growers have their own terms for their early harvests, such as ‘ming qian’ and ‘silver needle’, to name a few.

     

    Four Famous Clays of China – refers to the 4 clays revered for their excellent properties beneficial for teas, and made famous Chinese teaware. The four clays are:
    • Yixing ZiSha clay from Jiangsu
    • NiXing clay from Guangxi
    • JianShui clay from Yunnan
    • RongChang clay from Sichuan

     

    Fukamushi-cha (深蒸し茶) – Means deep-steamed tea in Japanese. This is when sencha (or some other Japanese Green Tea), is steamed for a slightly longer time than what it’s considered to be usual. Normally, the steaming process for green tea (Futsuumushicha 普通蒸し茶) runs for about 30-45 seconds. Fukamushicha, on the other hand, is steamed for about a minute or longer. As a result, the astringency is suppressed, while tea is gaining more body and sweetness.

     

    G:

    GABA tea – gamma-aminobutyric acid. It's a component that is directly responsible for the regulation of our muscle tone, calming the nerves, improving sleep, and balancing our moods. 

    Naturally, all tea has GABA in it, although in relatively small amounts that don’t play a significant enough role. In the 1980s Japanese scientists found out that letting green tea ferment for 6 to 10 hours in a nitrogen-rich / oxygen-free environment results in an amount of GABA in the tea leaves 10 times the originalGABA teas must have at least 150 mg of GABA per 100 grams of tea leaves. Nowadays the biggest producers of GABA tea are based in Taiwan and primarily produce oolongs. 

      

    Gaiwan – a tea vessel used mainly in Gong Fu for infusing tea leaves. A gaiwan consists of the bowl, lid and saucer, and is usually made of porcelain, glass or clay. Gaiwans made of yixing clay are particularly valued by tea experts (to learn why see ‘yixing’ and ‘zi sha’).

    Gaiwan and other teaware can easily absorb tastes and aromas and should never be washed using detergents, but rather with water only.

    The standard size of a gaiwan is 110ml, which is roughly 3.8oz.

     

    Gan Pao (干泡, "Dry Brewing") – is a tea brewing method that emphasizes aesthetics and cleanliness in the tea setting. Developed in Taiwan in the recent decades, it combines elements of the Japanese Tea Ceremony (Cha No Yu) with those of Gong Fu Cha. Unlike the traditional Gong Fu Cha method in mainland China, where water is often poured on the outside of the teapot to warm it up, Gan Pao utilizes only the inside of the brewing vessels, eliminating the need for a Tea Tray (Cha Pan) to collect water. Instead, a Tea Bowl (Cha Yu) is used to discard the water and tea. The tea setting (Cha Xi) for Gan Pao should be minimalistic and uncluttered, providing a serene and peaceful environment for tea brewing and drinking.

     

    Gao Shan Cha  High Mountain Tea. Referring to tea that grows at an altitude above 800m

     

    Genmaicha – is a blend of Japanese green tea (sencha) along with well-toasted brown rice (genmai). The rice adds a slightly nutty taste. The mild flavor of genmaicha and it’s low caffeine content make it an ideal after-dinner tea.

     

    Gong Dao Bei (公道杯) – means ‘fairness cup’ or ‘bowl of impartiality’. After brewing the tea for a certain amount of time either in a teapot or in gaiwantea should be decanted into a small pitcher called Gong Dao Bei, from which it gets poured into individual cups. It lets each participant enjoy the same brew, hence the name. It also serves to control the strength of the brew. Emptying a teapot into Gong Dai Bei ensures that the tea leaves do not continue to steep in between each pour. It is also called  Cha Hai (茶海) which means ‘sea of tea’

     

    Gong Fu Cha (工夫茶)  refers to one of Chinese tea brewing methods as well a to a Chinese tea ceremony. While the process can look complex, it is not truly a formalized ceremony. Gong Fu (工夫) translates as ‘right effort’ and cha (茶) means ‘tea’. Thus, Gong Fu Cha refers to the effort put forth to get the best flavor from a tea.  

    By using a small brewing vessel, tea is being steeped in concentrated amounts. Hot water is added to the same tea leaves many times. Each infusion is tested independently to observe changes in flavor. In this way, tea drinkers can appreciate the many qualities of the tea. This method also maximizes the quantity of brewed tea from each serving of leaves.

    Below is the list of utensils that are traditionally used when conducting Gong Fu: 

    Gaiwan or Cha Hu (teapot) – two different types of tea vessels. See the corresponding descriptions. 

    Cha He – ‘tea box’ – a vessel for the introduction of tea. It is customary in China to first look at the tea in the cha he and then ‘deep face’ into it; inhaling, exhaling, and inhaling once more, deeply through the nose. It allows for the participants to evaluate the tea that they will be drinking, be introduced to the look and aroma of the tea leaves and to gently ‘wake’ up the tea by warming it with the breath.

    Cha Hai – ‘sea of tea’. It’s a vessel that serves to control the strength of the brew. After brewing the tea for a certain amount of time either in a yixing or in gaiwan, tea should be decanted into a cha hai, from which it gets poured into individual cups. This method ensures that the tea leaves do not continue to steep in between each pour. It is also called ‘Gong Dao Bei’ – ‘Bowl of Impartiality’ or 'fairness cup' because it lets each participant enjoy the same brew.

    Cha Pan – is the tray or table for Chinese tea ceremony on which tea objects are kept and tea is prepared. Since plenty water gets spilled during a traditional ceremony, it is very useful to keep an empty tray underneath the openings of the cha ban.

    Cha Dao – a set of utensils that includes all or some of the following items:

    Cha Shao – scoop, used for transferring tea from the tea container to the cha he.

    Cha Shi   spoon used for transferring tea from the cha he to a gaiwan or yixing. 

    Cha Jia – tweezers used for picking up a hot cup or to pick a tea leaf out of a tea vessel.   

    Cha Zhen – pin used for clearing the small filtering holes in a yixing, that can get blocked by the tea leaves.

    Cha Lou – tea funnel, used for directing the flow of tea into the yixing and to prevent it from overflowing.

    Cha Tong – a container used to store the utensils listed above. 

     

    GongFu that recently became a synonym for the Chinese tea tradition has originated in the Chaozhou region. It has gained widespread popularity around the 1970s, first in Taiwan and then in Mainland China.   

     

    Grandpa Style Brewing – is one of the widespread brewing methods in China. Put a small amount of leaves into a big cup, pour hot water over the leaves and leave them steep for a few minutes. Then drink from the cup without removing the leaves. Once the cup is only ⅓ full, add more hot water. Repeat for as long as you wish.

     

    Green Tea – are the least oxidized of all the teas and are categorized by the firing method and craftsmanship technique; steamed, pan-fired, oven-baked, half-roasted, half-baked, hot-air roasted, and sun-dried.

    Regional nuances, the season of harvest, the style of leaf and the plucking standard – all become apparent when tasting the various types of green teas.

    Most green teas brew best at water temperatures around 170-175ºF (75-80ºC), but some require higher or lower temperatures.

     

    Guan Yin Yun (观音韵) – a signature combination of bright orchid fragrance and sweet, nectary taste that makes Tie Guan Yin oolong unique.

     

    Gunpowder Tea – a type of green tea. Its leaves are rolled into pellets that resemble gunpowder grains. The taste of this tea is a bit smokey. Gunpowder tea contains more caffeine than average green tea, so it may serve well as a ‘wake-up’ beverage.  

     

    Guricha  translates as 'curly tea'. The short curly leaves are also called Tamaryokucha – 'coiled green tea'. This deep-steamed Japanese tea is later slightly baked which results in reduced astringency and enhanced aroma and flavor. 

     

    Gu Shu (古树) – means "ancient tree", usually referring to pu-erh tea that is made of large leaves from wild, very mature, old tea trees, that sometimes are hundreds of years old. 

     

    Gyokuro – is regarded as the highest grade of Japanese green tea. It is made only with the first flush leaf (see ‘first flush’) and its special processing results in a tea with a mild, sweet flavor and with fresh, flowery-green aroma. Gyokuro tea bushes are shaded from direct sunlight for 20 days prior to harvesting. This makes the tea plant stack on theanine, which gives Gyokuro leaves their sweetness.

      

    H:

    Hei Cha (黑茶) – literally "dark" or "black" tea, is referring to post-fermented teas, such as liu baoshou (ripe) pu-erh and alike. It is the type of tea that has undergone microbial fermentation by exposing the tea leaves to humidity and oxygen. Not to be confused with what in the West is called "black tea", which in Chinese is called "hong cha" – red tea.

      

    Herbal Tea – also called tisane (pronounced as tea-zahn) is a major part of the tea world, although it is not technically tea. What is commonly referred to as "herbal tea”, is actually an infusion or decoction made from a plant (or plants) other than Camellia Sinensis (the plant from which all true teas (i.e. white, green, oolong, black and pu-erh teas) are made from). Tisane is caffeine free and can be served hot or cold. While some tisanes have a long history of medicinal use, others are consumed simply for enjoyment.

    Tisanes are usually categorized by what part of the plant they come from. Here are some examples of each major category of tisanes:

    • Leaf tisanes: lemon balm, mint, lemongrass and French verbena

    • Flower tisanes: rose, chamomile, hibiscus and lavender

    • Bark tisanes: cinnamon, slippery elm, and black cherry bark

    • Root tisanes: ginger, echinacea, and chicory

    • Fruit/berry tisane: raspberry, blueberry, peach, and apple

    • Seed/spice tisanes: cardamom, caraway, and fennel

    Often, tisanes are made from either a blend of plants or from multiple parts of the same plant.

      

    Hishaku – a bamboo ladle used in the Japanese tea ceremony for transferring hot water from a kettle (Chagama or Kama) into a Chawan – a bowl in which matcha gets whisked and consumed from. 

      

    Hojicha – Japanese green tea that is produced by roasting bancha or kukicha. The result is a tea with no bitterness and a woody char taste. There can be both lighter and more deeply roasted Hojicha. Unlike other Japanese teas, Hojicha has a distinct reddish-brown color when brewed. Lower in caffeine, Hojicha makes a great after-dinner tea.

     

    Hong Cha (红茶) – literally "red tea", is referring to fully oxidized tea, known in the West as "black tea". Not to be confused with Hei Cha ("dark tea" in Chinese), which means post-fermented tea, such as shou (ripe) pu-erh.

    Hongcha is well known as an afternoon tea because of its mellow and sweet flavor.

    Unlike green tea processing which attempts to preserve the green color of fresh tea leaves, black tea processing encourages the tea leaves to oxidize and change color from green to coppery-red. This change in leaf color is referred to as oxidation.

    Being fully oxidized, Black (or Red) Tea has dark leaves and produces a deep colored liquid. As well as tender, profound characteristics.

    Most black teas brew best at water temperatures of around 195-205ºF (90-95ºC).

     

    Hong Ni (红泥) – is one of the famous Yixing clays (Zi Sha) from the delta of Yangtze River in Jiangsu, China. It's red clay that has characteristics similar to the Zi Ni clay but a tad less porous.

     

    Houhin – is a Japanese vessel for brewing tea, similar to Shiboridasshi. Compared to shiboridashi it has a wider lip-spout. But the main difference is that Houhin has a strainer (shiboridashi doesn't). Therefore it is often used to brew smaller-leaf teas.

     

    Huang Cha (黄茶) –  means Yellow Tea. Yellow Tea is a step up from green tea, being made through the process of micro-oxidation. The technique involves the wok fry process – very much like in green tea production, but for a shorter duration at a reduced temperature. The tea leaf, being only partially dried, traps the moisture inside, which allows it to oxidize the tea to various degrees – “yellowing” the leaves. 

    There are five main varieties of the yellow tea:

    • Jun Shan Yin Zhen (Silver Needle Yellow Tea)
    • Huo Shan Huang Ya
    • Da Ye Qing
    • Huang Tang
    • Meng Ding Huang Ya

      

    Hui Gan (回甘) – refers to a sweet finish in the back of the throat. If used in reference to pu-erh it means the sweet finish that follows the initial bitterness. It may also be used to describe any kind of long-lasting tea-finish. Some describe Hui Gan as an "echo of the tea". 

     

    I:

    Ichi-go ichi-e (期一会)"one time, one meeting".  It's a Japanese idiom that describes the concept of treasuring every moment that we spend with friends and those who are dear to us. Every meeting and every moment of this meeting is unique and will never happen again. Therefore, during our meetings, we should be mindful of the present and cherish the time that we get to spend together. This concept is usually associated with the Japanese tea ceremony chanoyu. 

     

    Iron Goddess ('Tie Guan Yin') – is a very popular oolong teaIt uses only leaves, not buds. The picking standard for Tie Guan Yin is three to four leaves of medium to large opening, with stems. The witted leaves are shaken 3 to 5 times, with 2-hour breaks in between these procedures. This shaking technique is the most essential and skilled part in making Oolongs. It is an intuition-based knowledge gained only with experience.

    When drinking a high-quality Tie Guan Yin one can feel a tightening sensation at the end of one’s tongue along the cheeks where the umami receptors are, giving a sour feeling but not sour taste. Another giveaway for high-quality Tie Guan Yin is its airy and bright long-lingering aftertastes. Also, the “lingering throat sensation” (sweetness) which is similar in other high-quality teas is markedly sought after. Regarding the color, a whiter, or less colored liquid is best.

      

    J:

    Japanese tea – the main type of tea that is produced and consumed in Japan is green tea. Japanese green teas are generally classified according to their type of cultivation, processing method and regional origin.

     

    Gyokuro – is regarded as the highest grade of Japanese green tea. It is made only with the first flush leaf (see ‘first flush’) and its special processing results in a tea with a mild, sweet flavor and fresh, flowery-green aroma. Gyokuro tea bushes are shaded from direct sunlight for 20 days prior to harvesting. This makes the tea plant stack on theanine, which gives Gyokuro leaves their sweetness.

     

    Shincha – the year’s very first harvest of green tea, celebrated for its fresh and lively flavor, naturally sweet finish and smooth umami character. Accessible for only a very short period of time, the much anticipated first harvest captures the season’s most refined flavors.

    In Japanese, ‘shin’ means new and ‘cha’ means tea.  Shincha harvest is in mid-April when young green tea leaves contain naturally higher concentrations of nutrients and vibrant flavors, the result of wintertime dormancy.

    It’s limited availability and exquisite taste usually commands higher prices.

     

    Sencha – is the most common variety of Japanese green tea. Sencha can be translated as "roasted tea". The term refers to an older style of processing Japanese green tea that was influenced by Chinese tea processing methods. Today, most sencha is steamed instead of pan-roasted.

    Sencha is highly regarded for its delicate sweetness, mild astringency and flowery-green aroma. The quality of sencha will vary depending on origin, time of harvest and leaf processing techniques.

     

    Tamaryokucha  translates as 'coiled green tea'. The short curly leaves are also called Guricha. This deep-steamed Japanese tea is later slightly baked which results in reduced astringency and enhanced aroma and flavor.

     

    Tenchais harvested between May and June, and is grown almost exclusively to make matcha. Tencha tea bushes are shaded for 3–5 weeks prior to harvest, which blocks the tea bushes from the sun's energy. Shading forces the tea bush to draw up nutrients stored in its roots and grow wide, thin, tender tea leaves in a struggle to gather more light. It results in boosted levels of natural plant sugars, amino acids and caffeine, along with decreased levels of catechins, giving high-quality matcha it is distinctively sweet, umami-rich flavor with a creamy texture and low bitterness.

    After the being harvested tencha leaves are milled. The speed at which tencha is being stone-grounded plays an important role in the flavor and color of the matcha powder that results from it. The slower speed of grinding reduces the friction and the heat that gets applied to the tencha leaf, helping to preserve its vivid green color and the fresh flavor, whereas faster-grinding speeds can "toast" the tencha leaf and cause its bright color to fade to a greenish yellow.

     

    Kabuse Cha – is a type of sencha that is shaded for about 2 weeks prior to harvest. Kabuse Cha tends to have a mellower flavor and subtler color than sencha, which is grown under direct sunlight.

      

    Bancha – means “common tea”. Bancha is essentially a lower grade of sencha that is harvested during the summer and autumn. Bancha usually contains larger leaves and upper stems, which are discarded during the production of sencha. Compared to sencha, bancha is less aromatic and more astringent. Nonetheless, Bancha is loved in Japan for its robust flavor and overall strong character.

     

    Kukicha – is known as twig tea. Kukicha consists of a blend of leaves with the stems and stalks that are normally discarded during the production of gyokuro and sencha. The flavor of Kukicha is light and refreshing with a mild sweetness and its aroma is fresh and vegetal.

     

    Hojicha – is produced by roasting bancha or kukicha. The result is tea with no bitterness and a refreshing roast taste. There is light as well as more deeply roasted Hojicha. Unlike other Japanese teas, Hojicha has a distinct reddish-brown color when brewed. Lower in caffeine, Hojicha makes a great after-dinner tea.

     

    Genmaicha – is a blend of sencha with well-toasted brown rice (genmai). The rice adds a slightly nutty taste. The mild flavor of genmaicha and its low caffeine content make it an ideal after-dinner tea.

     

    Wakoucha – refers specifically to black tea produced in Japan. Like hong cha in Chinese, koucha translates as red tea and not black tea. "Wa" referring to Japan in this context. The properties of Japanese black tea are the same as those of hong cha — it is a fully oxidized tea made from the leaves of camellia sinensis.

     

    Jian Shui Zi Tao (建水紫陶) – is one of the four famous Chinese clays, porous and with high iron content. Jianshui is a city in Honghe prefecture, Yunnan province, China. The city is a historic center, over a thousand years old, previously known as Lin'an or Huili. Today, it is a relatively small city, not nearly as famous as another center of teaware pottery, Yixing. Zi Tao means "purple pottery". Jian Shui Zi Tao dates back to Tang Dynasty.

    The area still has large clay reserves, and the clay is much more pure and less sandy than the one from Yixing. As a result, the finished surface is more smooth and shiny. On the other hand, this clay is not as structurally strong as its counterpart, and jianshui teapots come thicker than zisha teaware. Such properties make it better suited for teas that require higher brewing temperatures and better heat retention, like pu-erh tea. Many tea connoisseurs appreciate that Jianshui clay comes from the same soil as pu-erh that they brew in it. Jianshui Zitao teapots are often decorated with beautiful and elaborate carvings. They are single-fired and never glazed.

     

    Jian ware (also known as Jian Zhan or Tian Mu Porcelain) – a type of Chinese black porcelain originating from Jianyang, Fujian province. 
    The Jian Zhan is the pinnacle of black porcelain, and it saw its rise during the Song Dynasty. The particular style of pottery was deeply studied amongst Japanese potters for use during Japanese tea ceremonies — chanoyu. The style came to be referred to as Tenmoku in Japan. 

    While in China, this style slowly gave way to Yixing ware, it continued flourishing in Japan, where it became a national treasure. Nowadays, there are but a few artists who are trying to revive the original Jian teacup making in China. 

    A Jian teacup is known for its simple shape, yet heaviness and sturdiness, which feels very pleasant in the hands. The style is characterized by the subtle effects in the glazes, which can only be achieved with a high-iron glaze and high firing temperatures, using special kilns. These patterns are characterized as follows: rabbit's hair, oil drop, and partridge feathers.

    The clay used for Jian pottery is very high in iron and requires a very high temperature for firing. 
    When drinking tea from Jianzhan, the temperature of the brew will stay pleasantly warm for a long time. Furthermore, the qualities of the teacup soften the water, making it more alkaline, smooth, and flowing. When comparing the water side by side with a regular porcelain teacup, the difference doesn't go unnoticed. 

     

    Jin Xuan – often referred to as “Milk Oolong” is the high-mountain oolong tea cultivar, primarily from Taiwan. It has a buttery sweet taste with a fragrance that carries light notes of milk. Contrary to the myth, the buttery taste of Jin Xuan is not obtained through steeping or steaming the tea leaves in milk before roasting. Its unique taste is obtained by properly oxidizing and processing the tea that is grown at high altitudes of Taiwanese mountains.

    Due to very high popularity, today’s market is flooded by low-quality, artificial ‘Milk Oolongs’, that are produced using additives. A flavored Jin Xuan can be easily recognized: the added flavors are significantly masking the natural tea flavor. The natural Jin Xuan has only a very slight milky scent.

     

    K:

    Kabusecha – is a type of Japanese green tea, sencha, that is shaded for about 2 weeks prior to harvest. Kabuse Cha tends to have a mellower flavor and subtler color than sencha that is grown under direct sunlight.

     

    Kama (or Chagama) – a kettle or a cast iron pot used in a Japanese tea ceremony to heat the water for tea 

     

    Keemun – is a Chinese black tea (hong cha) which is produced exclusively in the Qimen County of Anhui Province, between the Yellow mountains and the Yangtze River. To produce Keemun the leaves have to go through slow oxidation and withering process that results in smoky notes, and a gentle, malty, non-astringent taste.

     

    Kill Green – Sha Qing (杀青) is a vital tea processing step. By quickly pan-firing leaves at a high temperature which arrests most of the enzyme activity, Sha Qing slows down and almost stops the oxidation of tea leaves.

     

    Kintsugi (also known as Kintsukuroi) – is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by applying lacquer mixed with powdered gold or other precious metals. It is part of a philosophy that treats breakage and repair as part of the history and the character of an object, something that should be proudly displayed rather than something to disguise.

      

    Koicha – is an extremely thick Japanese tea, made with ceremonial grade matcha. It is reserved only for tea ceremonies and is always enjoyed alongside wagashi, the traditional Japanese sweets. To prepare koicha, use 4 chashaku of ceremonial grade matcha per 50ml of water. 

      

    Koridashi – kori dashi (氷出し) is a Japanese way of cold-brewing tea over ice. While this process takes quite some time, the ice is great at extracting all those sweet notes of tea and eliminating bitterness and astringency. 

    1: Place 1 gram of gyokuro or sencha tea leaves for every 30 ml of water (ice) in a brewing vessel
    2: Place the ice somewhere where it can slowly drip down on the tea leaves as it melts
    3: Wait for the ice to melt completely (in hot weather this will take a few hours)
    4: Enjoy:)

         

        Koucha – what we call "black tea", in Japanese. Like hong cha in Chinese, koucha translates as red tea and not black tea. The properties of Japanese black tea are the same as those of hong cha — it is a fully oxidized tea made from the leaves of camellia sinensis.

         

        Kukicha – is known as twig tea. Kukicha consists of a blend of leaves with the stems and stalks that are normally discarded during the production of gyokuro and sencha. The flavor of Kukicha is light and refreshing with a mild sweetness and its aroma is fresh and vegetal.

         

        Kyusu – Japanese teapot. There are 5 different types of kyusu:

          Yokode no kyusu – literally "side hand teapot”. Originally, this shape made it easy to pour when sitting on a tatami mat in a traditional Japanese room, as the host would sit across from the guest, rather than pour tea from the side or from behind. Kyusu has a handle that is placed 90 degrees from the spout. This is widely used in Japan for preparing sencha green tea.

          Atode no kyusu – this type of teapot has a round handle on the opposite side from the spout. This type of teapot is probably the most widely used around the world. In Japan it is mainly used for non-Japanese teas.

          Houhin – a houhin is a kyusu without a handle. Compared to other types of kyusu it has a wider spout, so it is often used to brew smaller-leaf teas. The main feature of houhin is a strainer. Although houhin does not have a handle, gyokuro always steeped using water of around 60 degrees or lower, so there is no concern of burning hands.

          Shiboridashi – is a kyusu very similar to Houhin, but Shiboridashi is wider and not as tall and is used mainly to brew gyokuro and sencha. It is very similar to Chinese gaiwan, but with Shiboridashi one doesn't have to adjust the gap between the lid and the body – the body of the vessel has a lip-spout at the top and the lid serves as a filter, holding tea leaves inside and ensuring smooth flow of tea. It doesn't have a strainer, so it is often used to brew larger-leaf teas.

         • Uwade no kyusu – this kyusu is shaped like a kettle with a handle above the body. Because its larger size, compared to other types of kyusu, it becomes handy when serving many people. Recommended for teas such as hojicha and bancha.

          

        L:

        Lao Ban Zhang – is an area in Yunnan Province, China, famous for its production of pu-erh tea. Pu-erh from Lao Ban Zhang is called King of Pu-erh and is the most prized as well as the most counterfeited tea. The real Laobanzhang pu-erh poses a uniquely strong, bold and complex taste and it can be aged for decades, always changing and developing more depth and texture. 

         

        Lao Cong means "old bush", referring to teas that are made with leaves from mature tea bushes that are over 50 years old. Maturity of a plant usually results in a smoother, multi-layered flavor. 

         

        Lapsang Souchong (Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong) – is a black tea that is grown in Wuyi Mountains, Fujian Province, China. It is one of the world’s most important tea producing regions. The tea is being grown on a highly prized mineral-rich soil. There are two types of this tea: smoky and non-smoky. Smoky Lapsang Souchong leaves are being smoke-dried over pinewood fire, taking on a uniquely smoky flavor. Lapsang Souchong, created in 17th century, is considered to be the first Hong Cha – Black Tea.

         

        Liu Bao – post-fermented Dark Tea (Hei Cha) from Guangxi Province, usually aged in bamboo baskets. Liu Bao is the forefather of shou pu-erh.

         

        L-theanine – is a unique amino acid present exclusively in tea. L-theanine affects serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, aids with mental focus, increases cognitive performance, improves mood. According to studies, it can help with combating stress and anxiety as well as reduces blood pressure. 

         

        Lu Cha (绿茶) – Green Tea, referring to slightly oxidated tea.

         

        Lu Ni (绿泥) – a very rare Yixing clay of green color with excellent heat-retaining properties.

         

        Lu Yu – (陸羽, 729-804), Chinese writer and tea-master, often referred as Tea-Sage for his contribution to establishing Chinese tea culture. His book "The Classic of Tea" (Cha Ching (茶经)) is the first comprehensive and monumental work on all aspects of tea. This book played a huge role in popularizing tea drinking.

         

        M:

        Mao Cha (毛茶) – translates to "rough tea" and refers to the intermediate product in tea processing. After primary processing steps, but prior to the final refining processes, the tea is termed Mao Cha. Typically associated with raw (sheng) pu-erh, this term is applied to tea leaves before they get compressed into cakes, bricks, or tuocha. 

         

        Matcha – is a traditional Japanese green tea powder produced by stone-milling a shade-grown green tea called tencha into a fine powder. It is the central piece of the Zen-inspired and highly artistic Japanese tea ceremony. It is the cornerstone of the Japanese tea culture.

        Introduced in the 12th century by the Buddhist monk who returned home from China, Matcha was the first type of tea ever tried in Japan. The birthplace of Matcha is considered to be Uji region of Kyoto Prefecture, as the first plants of tea, brought from China, were transplanted to that area. Today, Uji region is where the best-quality matcha in Japan is produced. The quality of matcha greatly depends on the tea bush cultivar, shading technique, and picking standard used to produce tencha.

        Tencha is harvested just once per year between May and June and is grown almost exclusively to make matcha. Tencha tea bushes are shaded for 3–5 weeks prior to harvest using a traditional frame-and-thatch technique known as tana, which blocks 70-85% of the sun's energy from reaching the tea bushes. Shading inhibits photosynthesis in the tea plant, boosting chlorophyll levels and creating a deep green leaf color. The tea bush draws up nutrients stored in its roots and grows wide, thin, tender tea leaves in a struggle to gather more light. These plant adaptations all result in boosted levels of natural plant sugars, amino acids and caffeine, along with decreased levels of catechins, giving high-quality matcha its distinctively sweet, umami-rich flavor with a creamy texture and low bitterness.

        The highest quality matcha is milled using traditional granite stone wheels. Stone-milling tencha into matcha results in a smoother, richer, creamier matcha than the matcha that comes from the more common, ball-milling technique. What plays an important role in the flavor and color of the finished matcha powder is the speed at which tencha is stone-ground. Slower grinding speed reduces the friction and heat that is applied to the tencha leaf, helping to preserve matcha's vivid green color and fresh flavor, whereas faster-grinding speeds can "toast" the tencha leaf and cause its bright color to fade to a greenish yellow.

        There are two main cultivars of Tencha: 

        Yabukita – matcha produced from Yabukita is lighter in color and has more of "shibumi" (can be translated as tartness or bitterness). 75% of matcha produced in Japan comes from Yabukita cultivar. 

        Okumidori – harvested a week later than Yabukita. Matcha that comes out from this cultivar of tencha is darker and sweeter than the one that comes from Yabukita.

         

        Matcha is unique among teas in that when we drink matcha, we consume fresh green tea leaf itself, ground and whisked up into an energizing, refreshing bowl.

         

        Men Huang (闷黄) – can be loosely translated as "stewing yellow." It's the unique step in Yellow Tea processing that kills the grassiness of the tea and makes it sweet and aromatic. During the "Men Huang" step tea farmers must keep the tea leaves in a warm and humid environment. It is a sophisticated process where tea artisans must gauge the moisture very well to produce the best Huang Cha possible. "Men Huang" also involves intuition. There are no strict guidelines to the room's humidity levels, and it is a manual process. 

         

        Milk Oolong (‘Jin Xuan’) – Jin Xuan, often referred to as “Milk Oolong” is the high-mountain oolong tea cultivar, primarily from Taiwan. It has a buttery sweet taste with a fragrance that carries light notes of milk. Contrary to the myth, the buttery taste of Jin Xuan is not obtained through steeping or steaming the tea leaves in milk before roasting. Its unique taste is obtained by properly oxidizing and processing the tea that is grown at high altitudes of Taiwanese mountains.

        Due to very high popularity, today’s market is flooded by low-quality, artificial ‘Milk Oolongs’, that are produced using additives. A flavored Jin Xuan can be easily recognized: the added flavors are significantly masking the natural tea flavor. The natural Jin Xuan has only a very slight milky scent.

         

        Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) – the period known (among other things, of course) for its blue-and-white Ming porcelain, the birth of oolong teas in Wuyi Mountains and Chaozhou, and yixing teaware in the delta of Yangtze river. The Ming Dynasty was when the tea brewing method that we know today started to form.

          

        N:

        New Six Tea Mountains – tea mountains in Yunnan that recently became famous for Pu-erh Tea production (as opposed to Ancient Six Tea Mountains). These mountains are: Nannuo, Bulang, Bada, Nanqiao, Mengsong, and Jingmai (Huiming).

         

        Nixing (坭兴) – is one of the four famous Chinese clays whose history dates back to the Tang Dynasty. It comes from Qinzhou town, Guangxi province, China. Nixing clay is quite pliable, which allows it to be shaped on a wheel and create many different forms. The high porosity enables the clay to breathe, but its pores are small and don't trap as much heat as ZiSha clay does. Therefore, Ni Xing pottery (坭兴陶) doesn't retain heat as much as Yixing Zisha clays such as ZiNi or DuanNi teapots do. Such properties make Nixing tea ware suitable for more delicate teas: green, white, and yellow tea.

        Ni Xing pottery is unique in how the clay is prepared. The final clay is a mixture of clays from both of the Qin Jiang River banks. While clay from the river's East bank is stored wet in a sealed container, clay from the West bank of the river is left exposed to sun and rain for up to 6 months. Once the clay from the West bank dries out, it is crushed into powder and mixed with the moist clay from the East bank. The standard ratio is 6:4 (West to East).

        After the clay gets fired at a temperature of 1200ºC, it acquires different hues that range from copper brown to bluish-grey. The combination of the shades is impossible to control, and each pot comes out unique.
        Nixing pots are often covered in elaborate carvings and never glazed.

         

        Nong Xiang – "Strong Fragrance" refers to the traditional style of processing oolong teas. To remove moisture the leaves are first left to wither, then they get rolled and, in the end, are given a long and slow roast over a charcoal fire. As a result of these steps, the high and sharp notes are fading and the tea becomes more mellow, rich, nutty and toasty.  This method requires lots of work, attention and craftsmanship, and is slowly getting forgotten as the other method – Qing Xiang, is gaining popularity.

          

        O:

        Okumidori – cultivar of Tencha from which Matcha is produced. Matcha that comes out from this cultivar of tencha is darker and sweeter than the one that comes from Yabukita.

          

        Oolong Tea – oolong (Wu Long Cha – 乌龙茶) translates as "black dragon tea" and refers to a category of semi-oxidized teas (they fall between un-oxidized green teas and fully oxidized black teas). The production methods for oolong tea are known to only a few regions of the world. Today, the main production regions are in Fujian, Guangdong and Taiwan.

        Oolong teas are being produced from larger, more mature leaves. During processing the leaves are shaken and then the edges of the leaves are left to “bruise”. This brings the brownish-red color to the edges, while the inside of the leaves stays green. The actual amount of oxidation depends on the desired finish of the tea, as well as the skill of the tea maker. This can result in oolong teas that are lightly oxidized, like pale delicate-tasting green teas, to forms which are almost fully oxidized, like dark and bold flavored black teas.

        The production of oolong tea requires some of the most artisanal and sophisticated skills of tea making. Oolong tea artisans are much like boutique winemakers. Experts categorize and understand oolong by its region, age, bush variety and season of harvest, just like wine.

         

        P:

        Pin Cha (品茶) – translates as "tasting tea," encompasses any tea gathering or brewing method that focuses on savoring and discovering the unique qualities of tea. While it is sometimes used interchangeably with Gong Fu Cha, Pin Cha is not restricted to that particular style alone.

         

        Pouchong – better known as Baozhong, is a lightly oxidized tea that falls somewhere between green and lightly oxidized oolong tea. Bao Zhong is often referred to as oolong tea due to its floral notes and lack of green teas' sharpness. It's an early spring tea that is being grown primarily in Fujian, China and Pinglin, Taiwan

          

        Pu-erh tea (普洱茶) – There are two distinct types of Pu-erh: Sheng Pu-erh (the raw or green type) and Shou Pu-erh (the ripened or black type). Both Shou and Sheng Pu-erh teas are usually made of Camellia sinensis var. Assamica. Pu-erh tea is often aged, often for many years, resulting in bold, complex, mellow flavor.

        Like Champagne or other regionally specific foods and beverages, pu-erh is a geographically indicated product. This tea can only be produced and fermented in southern Yunnan using sun-dried green tea from specific tea varieties found in Yunnan, Laos, Burma and some parts of Thailand and Vietnam.

         

        Pu-erh Tea Main Production Areas – the Lancang River Basin in Yunnan is home to a majority of ancient tea gardens, with over 270,000 mu (~180,000 square meters) of tea trees gathered in forests or scattered individually. It is the main area for Pu'er tea production in Yunnan, including Xishuangbanna, Baoshan, and Lincang tea areas. The unique combination of soil, microclimate, and river waters creates incredible biological diversity, with 4 lines, 31 varieties, and 2 species of tea plants found only in the Lancang River Basin, which is unmatched anywhere in the world. Lancang River Basin is the cradle of Pu'er tea and a birthplace of tea tree species. Renowned Pu-erh tea-producing regions like Fengqing, Daxueshan, Mengku, Jingmai, Bada, and Bulang mountains, as well as the Six ancient tea mountains: Youle, Mangzhi, Manzhuan, Yibang, Gedeng, and Mansa, are located here. The tea produced in these regions varies greatly in taste and aroma. In addition, the New Six tea mountains, including Nannuo, Bulang, Bada, Nanqiao, Mengsong, and Jingmai (Huiming) mountains, are also located in this area.

        Generally speaking, Yunnan can be divided into four main tea growing regions: Northwest, Southeast, Northeast, and Southwest. The high altitude of the Northwest area contributes to the growth of high-quality Pu-erh tea, including the oldest and largest cultivated tea tree in the world in Fengqing village. Bingdao is known for producing the most expensive Pu-erh. The Southeast area has a mild climate and produces soft, fragrant tea. All six ancient tea mountains are found here, and it is the starting point of the ancient tea-horse road. The Northeast area has scattered and scarce tea trees, with a big temperature difference between day and night, resulting in bitter tea. Its signature tea-producing places are Qianjiazhai, Zhenyuan, Wuliang, and Jinggu.The Southwestern area has a long history of growing tea, with an abundance of ancient tea gardens and large-leaf species. Signature tea-producing places include Banzhang, Naka, Jingmai, Bulang, Nannuoshan, Bada, Menghai, and Pasha.

          

        Q:

        Qi (茶气 – Cha Qi) – Qi (气) in Chinese is the life force behind all things, and Cha Qi is the life force of the tea. To better understand what Cha Qi is read our article on the subject

         

        Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) – the last Imperial Dynasty that ended with the abdication of the last Emperor. Succeeded by the Republic of China. Qing Emperors were ethnic Manchus. In the early Qing Dynasty, tea oxidation was mastered, and therefore different types of tea appeared.   

         

        Qing Xiang (清香) – "Clear Fragrance," refers to the style of processing oolong teas. Qing Xiang Oolongs are lightly oxidized (no more than 20-30%) and gently roasted. As a result, the Qing Xiang Oolongs taste fresh, floral and naturally creamy.  This style was developed in relatively recent past and became very popular among the tea producers as this processing method requires lesser effort. The other well-known (and more traditional) method of processing Oolong Teas is Nong Xiang.

         

        R:

        Raw vs Ripe Pu-erh (Sheng vs Shou Pu-erh)

        Raw (Sheng) Pu-erh is a pu-erh that is made from tea leaves that are withered, roasted and sun-dried. Such tea is now called mao cha (毛茶 – "rough tea") which is then steamed to be compressed into round disks called cakes. Then, the cakes are aged until the tea’s taste is properly transformed due to micro-processes within the leaves. Young raw pu-erh is not yet fermented and retains a fresh scent and can be a pleasantly bitter and astringent, but should have a sweet aftertaste.

        Ripe (Shu or Shou) Pu-erh is pu-erh that is made from mao cha (毛茶– same processed tea that is used for Raw Pu-erh. However, prior to being pressed into cakes, it undergoes the very important procedure, called ‘Wet Piling’ (渥堆 – Wo Dui)

        The leaves get piled up to a certain height that is usually around 70 cm, but different tea masters have their own preferences.

        The piled tea gets wetted with water, and then coved by a linen cloth. This step allows the tea to stay warm and creates a humid environment to accelerate the fermentation.

        After the tea ferments to a certain degree, it gets unpiled and ventilated.

        Depending on the degree of such fermentation, pu-erh turns from green or yellow to a reddish-brown color. You can tell the degree of wet piling by the color of the liquid – the darker the liquid gets, the higher the wet piling degree, and vice versa.

        The process of piling transforms the tea’s taste to a very thick one with an earthy aroma.     

         

        "Rock Rhyme" (Yan Yun 岩韵) – in Chinese Yan means rock, which refers to Wuyi Shan terroir. Hence the name "Yan Cha" – Rock Tea. Yun, on the other hand, is a more abstract term. In music, the term Yun is used to define a certain rhythm that coats the listener with delight. 
        The best way to describe Yan Yun would be a gracefulness of Yancha that exhibits all of the qualities, tying together taste, aroma, mouthfeel, and the feeling we get after sipping the tea.

         

        Rolling (揉捻 – Roun Nian) – one of the processing steps tea making. During rolling the juices captured in the leaves and responsible for the tea's taste are activated, and excessive moisture is further released. Different regions have different rolling styles that might vary significantly.

          

        S:

        San Cha (散茶) – is a term that directly translates to "loose tea". Contrasting with Mao Cha, which indicates tea that's not fully processed or refined, San Cha denotes any tea that isn't compressed or pressed. For example, it may refer to loose-leaf Hei Cha that is not compressed.

         

        Sencha – is the most common variety of Japanese green tea. Sencha can be translated as "roasted tea". It comes from an older style of processing Japanese green tea that was influenced by Chinese tea processing methods. Today, most sencha is steamed instead of pan-roasted.

        Sencha is acclaimed for its delicate sweetness, mild astringency and flowery-green aroma. The quality of sencha will vary depending on origin, time of harvest and leaf processing techniques.

         

        Senchado – is the Japanese tea tradition of preparing and drinking sencha and gyokuro. It originated at the end of 17th, beginning of 18th century. 

         

        Shaded Tea – is a practice when tea bushes are shaded from direct sunlight, usually about 20 days before harvesting. Fighting for survival, the tea plant stack on L-theanine and other amino acids, giving the tea leaves extra sweetness and making tea even healthier. This practice is used to make some of the famous Japanese teas, such as matcha, gyokuro, kabusecha.

         

        Shan Yun (山韵) – "mountain rhyme", similar to "yan yun" (岩韵) for Wuyi Rock Oolongs. The term is used to describe the unique characteristics of Fenghuang Dan Cong Oolongs

         

        Sha Qing (杀青) – "kill green" is a vital tea processing step. By quickly pan-firing leaves at a high temperature which arrests most of the enzyme activity, sha qing slows down and almost stops the oxidation of tea leaves.

         

        Shennong – Chinese Emperor and herbalist who, according to the legend, discovered tea in 2737 BCE.

         

        Sheng (Raw) Pu-erh  is a pu-erh that is made from tea leaves that are withered, roasted and sun-dried. Such tea is now called mao cha (毛茶 – "rough tea") which is then steamed to be compressed into round disks called cakes. Then, the cakes are aged until the tea’s taste is properly transformed due to micro-processes within the leaves. Young raw pu-erh is not yet fermented and retains a fresh scent and can be a pleasantly bitter and astringent, but should have a sweet aftertaste.

         

        Shiboridashi – Japanese vessel for brewing tea, similar to gaiwan. It has a lip-spout at the top and the lid serves as a filter, holding tea leaves inside and ensuring smooth flow of tea. Shiboridsashi has no strainer. Therefore it is usually used for teas with larger leaves.

         

        Shincha – the year’s very first harvest of Japanese green tea, celebrated for its fresh and lively flavor, naturally sweet finish and smooth umami character. Accessible for only a very short period of time, the much anticipated first harvest captures the season’s most refined flavors.

        In Japanese, ‘shin’ means new and ‘cha’ means tea.  Shincha harvest is in early April when young green tea leaves contain naturally higher concentrations of nutrients and vibrant flavors, the result of wintertime dormancy.

        Its limited availability and exquisite taste usually command higher prices.

         

        Shou Pu-erh – Shou aka Ripe Pu-erh is made from Mao Cha (毛茶) – same processed tea that is used for Raw Pu-erh. However, prior to being pressed into cakes, it undergoes the very important procedure, called ‘Wet Piling’ (渥堆 – Wo Dui):

        • The leaves get piled up to a certain height that is usually around 70 cm, but different tea masters have their own preferences.
        • The piled tea gets wetted with water, and then coved by a linen cloth. This step allows the tea to stay warm and creates a humid environment to accelerate the fermentation.
        • After the tea ferments to a certain degree, it gets unpiled and ventilated.


        Depending on the degree of such fermentation, pu-erh turns from green or yellow to a reddish-brown color. You can tell the degree of wet piling by the color of the liquid – the darker the liquid gets, the higher the wet piling degree, and vice versa.
        The process of piling transforms the tea’s taste to a very thick one with an earthy aroma.
         

        Song Dynasty (960-1279) – powdered tea made its way to Japan and is known today as matcha. In China, this tea-making method got lost with the Mongols invasion in the 1260s and the establishment of the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368). 

          

        T:

        Tai Di Cha (台地茶) – plantation tea, low-land tea, as opposed to wild tea, high-mountain tea, ancient tea

         

        Tang Dynasty (618-906) – high point and golden age in Chinese history. This was the period when poetry, crafts, and culture truly flourished, and so did tea. Lu Yu, the Tea-Sage, lived during this era (733-804) and wrote his famous "The Classic of Tea". At that time, processed tea was compressed into cakes to be later ground into powder form and boiled.

         

        Tamaryokuchatranslates as 'coiled green tea'. The short curly leaves are also called Guricha. This deep-steamed Japanese tea is later slightly baked which results in reduced astringency and enhanced aroma and flavor.

         

        Tea – is the second most consumed drink in the world, surpassed only by water. What may come to many as a surprise is that all teas (i.e. WhiteGreenYellowOolongBlack, and Pu'erh) come from the same plant – Camellia Sinensis.

        Camellia Sinensis is a sub-tropical, evergreen plant native to China. However since the early 19th century, when it was brought to India, it is grown around the world. Depending on the season when the leaves of Camellia Sinensis are harvested and on the different techniques that are used to process the leaves after the harvest, different kinds of tea come to life. Therefore "tea" is everything that is derived from the Camellia Sinensis plant.

        Anything else, while sometimes called "tea", is more accurately referred to as an herbal tea or tisane. Tisanes include chamomile, rooibos and fruit teas.

         

        Tea Drunk / Tea High – (茶醉 – Cha Zui) is the feeling we get from the psychoactive components of Camellia Sinensis, the plant from which all teas are made from. This plant has several vital components that give us the feeling of being tea drunk. Such elements are: caffeine – provides energy; L-theanine – stimulates alpha brain waves and by doing so puts us in a state of alertness and creativity; and catechins – the antioxidants.

        Being tea drunk or high on tea one may feel very light, almost flying. Creative. Emotional and introspective. Uplifted, happy, giggly and silly. Content, peaceful and blissful. Meditative and philosophic. Trippy. Relaxed. Feeling a deep connection with everything and everyone around you. If you are drinking tea with family or friends, you might feel exceptionally grateful to be in their company at the moment.

        The best teas for getting tea drunk are the high-quality teas that have the highest content of the elements mentioned above. For example, shade-grown Japanese green teas, such as Matcha and Gyokuro; Teas made from the very top leaves and the buds, such as Bai Hao Yin Zhen (Silver Needle) White Tea; and aged tea, such as Fuding Shou Mei White Tea. More oxidized teas such as Oolong (especially the dark ones) and red (black) teas are not ideal for reaching the state of being tea drunk.

         

        Teaism – is the term that is used to describe a tea-culture that is cultivating certain aesthetics. One of the cornerstones of teaism is a sense of focus and concentration while making and tasting tea.

         

        Teapot Shapes – the shape and constitution of a teapot affect the tea brewing process. For example, a round teapot will allow rolled leaves to unfurl, while a tall teapot is better for long, twisted leaves. A flat teapot conducts heat better than a round one and will ensure that tender leaves of green tea won't get overcooked. These are just some examples of how teapot shape may affect tea. It is, of course, impossible to list all the different shapes and forms of teapots. But here are some of the classic ones. 

        Teapot Shapes

         

        Tencha – is harvested between May and June, and is grown almost exclusively to make matcha. Tencha tea bushes are shaded for 3–5 weeks prior to harvest, which blocks the tea bushes from the sun's energy. Shading forces the tea bush to draw up nutrients stored in its roots and grow wide, thin, tender tea leaves in a struggle to gather more light. It results in boosted levels of natural plant sugars, amino acids and caffeine, along with decreased levels of catechins, giving high-quality matcha its distinctively sweet, umami-rich flavor with a creamy texture and low bitterness.

        After the being harvested tencha leaves are milled. The speed at which tencha is being stone-grounded plays an important role in the flavor and color of the resulting matcha powder. Slower grinding speed reduces the friction and heat applied to the tencha leaf, helping preserve its vivid green color and fresh flavor, whereas faster-grinding speed can "toast" the tencha leaf which causes the bright color to fade to a greenish yellow.

        There are two main cultivars of Tencha: 

        Yabukita – matcha produced from Yabukita is lighter in color and has more of "shibumi" (can be translated as tartness or bitterness). 75% of matcha produced in Japan comes from Yabukita cultivar.

        Okumidori – harvested a week later than Yabukita. Matcha that comes out from this cultivar of tencha is darker and sweeter than the one that comes from Yabukita. 

          

        Tenmoku – also known as Jian Zhan pottery is a type of Chinese black porcelain originating from Jianyang, Fujian province. Pottery has existed in Fujian province since the time of the Northern and Southern Dynasties (220–589). However, the Jianzhan teacup saw its rise during the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279). Nowadays, it is revered as the pinnacle of black porcelain ware.

        In the Song Dynasty's "The Record of Tea" it was said about Jian Zhan:

        "Tea is of light color and looks best in black cups. The cups made at Jianyang are bluish-black, marked like the fur of a hare. Being of rather thick fabric, they retain the heat so that when once warmed through, they cool very slowly, and they are additionally valued on this account. None of the cups produced at other places can rival these. Blue and white cups are not used by those who give tea-tasting parties." 

        In 1335, during the Kamakura period, a Japanese monk who was practicing in China brought back a Jian tea cup with him. In Japan, the style started to be known as Tenmoku, which is the Japanese way to say Tian Mu. 

        Following the Song Dynasty, the Chinese elite switched to favor loose leaf tea. Loose leaf tea required steeping in teapots, thus Yixing ware became the teaware of choice. Since that era forward Yixing ware continued flourishing in China while Jian Zhan became all but abandoned.

        It continued to prosper in Japan, where it is known as Tenmoku. Nowadays, it is a national treasure in Japan

        Since the 1900s, there has been a wave of potters in China dedicated to reviving this beautiful old part of Chinese culture. Under the guidance of some revered Japanese tenmoku potters, they have been reclaiming the style, rebuilding old kins, as well as making new ones.

          

        Tetsubin – is a Japanese teapot made of cast-iron. The history of Tetsubin starts in the 16th century.  Its popularity quickly grew, for it was used to brew sencha – a less formal tea than the powdered ceremonial tea matcha. Made of cast-iron tetsubin posses great heat-retaining quality. Nowadays tetsubins are often glazed with enamel which prevents rusting and makes it easy to clean. Glazed titsubin is called "tetsu kyusu". It is not meant to be put on a stove for water-heating purposes as the excessive heat will damage the enamel coating. 

         

        Tibetan tea (Zang Cha – 藏茶) – is a Hei Cha (黑茶) – post-fermented Chinese tea, produced mainly in Sichuan. Tibetan tea had many names that changed with time: Wu Cha (乌茶), Bian Cha (border tea, 边茶), Da Cha (大茶), or Ya Cha (雅茶). To learn more about this tea, read our blogpost



        has been produced here for up to 1300 years, with Ya'An serving as a major trading hub on the Tea-Horse Road. Early in 2008, the People's Republic of China's Ministry of Culture declared the production of black tea (Hei Cha – 
        黑茶), specifically Ya'an Tibetan tea, to be a grade 1 intangible cultural heritage.

          

        Tie Guan Yin (‘Iron Goddess’) – is a very popular oolong teaIt uses only leaves, not buds. The picking standard for Tie Guan Yin is three to four leaves of medium to large opening, with stems. The witted leaves are shaken 3 to 5 times, with 2-hour breaks in between the procedures. This technique is the most essential and skilled part in making Oolongs. This is an intuition based knowledge gained only with experience.

        When drinking a high quality Tie Guan Yin one can feel a tightening sensation at the end of one’s tongue along the cheeks where the umami receptors are, giving a sour feeling but not sour taste. Another giveaway for high-quality Tie Guan Yin is its airy and bright long-lingering aftertastes. Also, the “lingering throat sensation” (sweetness) which is similar in other high-quality teas is markedly sought after. Regarding the color, a whiter, or less colored liquid is best.

         

        Tisane – (pronounced as tea-zahn) also called “herbal tea”, is a major part of the tea world, although it is not technically tea. What is commonly referred to as "herbal tea”, is actually an infusion or decoction made from a plant (or plants) other than Camellia Sinensis (the plant from which all true teas (i.e. white, green, oolong, black and pu-erh teas) are made from). Tisane is caffeine free and can be served hot or cold. While some tisanes have a long history of medicinal use, others are consumed simply for enjoyment.

        Tisanes are usually categorized by what part of the plant they come from. Here are some examples of each major category of tisanes:

        • Leaf tisanes: lemon balm, mint, lemongrass and French verbena

        • Flower tisanes: rose, chamomile, hibiscus and lavender

        • Bark tisanes: cinnamon, slippery elm, and black cherry bark

        • Root tisanes: ginger, echinacea, and chicory

        • Fruit/berry tisane: raspberry, blueberry, peach, and apple

        • Seed/spice tisanes: cardamom, caraway, and fennel

        Often, tisanes are made from either a blend of plants or from multiple parts of the same plant.

         

        Tokoname – refers to a type of Japanese pottery, like Yixing or Zi Sha in China. It is stoneware and ceramics produced in Tokoname, Aichi, in central Japan. The tradition of Tokoname pottery dates back to the 12th century and is highly regarded nowadays.

         

        Tuocha – meaning 'dome-shaped tea’ is a compressed tea, usually pu-erh. Its shape resembles a bird's nest and it could range in weight from 3gr to 3kg. Most commonly Tuocha comes in the size of a single serving. 

         

        U:

        Umami – used not only in reference to tea, but in reference to taste in general. Umami or ‘savory taste’ is one of the five basic tastes, with sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and saltiness. It is described as brothy or meaty. 

         

        Usucha – "thin matcha". Unlike in "koicha", more water and less matcha powder are used when making usucha, which results in a smooth, latte-like drink. 

         

        V:

          

        W:

        Wabi-sabi – is a philosophical concept centered on the acceptance of impermanence and imperfection, and on finding beauty in it. "Wabi" means rustic simplicity and quietness; "Sabi" means beauty and serenity that comes with age. Wabi-sabi can be explained as "wisdom in natural simplicity." The embodiment of this concept may be seen in certain styles of Japanese pottery where the items used are often rustic and simple-looking, with shapes that are not quite symmetrical, and colors or textures that appear to emphasize an unrefined or simple style.

          

        Wakoucha – refers specifically to black tea produced in Japan. Like hong cha in Chinese, koucha translates as red tea and not black tea. "Wa" referring to Japan in this context. The properties of Japanese black tea are the same as those of hong cha — it is a fully oxidized tea made from the leaves of camellia sinensis.

         

        Western Style brewing – comparing to Gong Fu Cha, it is the more straightforward method of preparing tea. This tea brewing method requires just one big teapot (preferably with a removable strainer). 
         
        • Prepare a teapot.
        • Place the appropriate amount of tea leaves inside the strainer. The ratio is usually about 1-1.5 grams of tea per 100ml of water. 
        • Brew the tea using the proper water temperature.
        • After 3 to 5 minutes have passed, remove the tea leaves to prevent over-brewing (this is where a strainer comes in handy).
        • Pour the tea into your teacups and enjoy!

         

        Wet Piling (渥堆 – Wo Dui) – the key step in producing Shou Pu-erh (Ripe Pu-erh) tea. Wet piling consists of the following steps:

        • Tea leaves are piled in a tea factory to a height of about 70cm, varying by a tea master.
        • Piled tea is wetted with water and then covered with tarp (optional). This way, the farmers create a warm and humid environment to speed up the fermentation process.
        • Under the influence of heat and humidity, a complex of fungi and bacteria develop in the tea pile, enhancing the fermentation process.
        • After fermentation, the tea is unpiled and ventilated.

         

        White tea (白茶 – Bai Cha) – white tea is the least processed among the six different teas. The production utilizes the gentle process of withering, curing, and drying which give white teas delicate flavors, a smooth mouthfeel, as well as a subtly fruity or sweet finish. White teas tend to have less bitterness than other teas and can be more forgiving of water temperature and infusion times than green teas.

        Most white teas come from medium-leaf tea bush varieties that yield white-silvery sprouts and leaves. They are delicately hand-harvested only once a year for a few weeks in early spring when the weather is consistently cool and dry. The withering process of white tea raises an abundance of silvery-white hairs on the dried tea leaves and buds. Authentic white teas such as White Peony are multi-colored like autumn leaves and are covered with a silver-white "down" that resembles skin of a ripened peach. Silver Needle, the premier style of white tea, consists of only silvery-white sprouts shaped like needles without attached leaves.

        There are four main grades of white tea:
         

        Yin Zhen / Bai Hao Yin Zhen (白毫银针) – White Hair Silver Needle – the highest grade of white tea that consists exclusively of the top buds of the first flush. As a result, Bai Hao Yin Zhen is a tea with a delicate fragrance with a long lingering sweetness.

        Mudan / Bai Mudan (白牡丹) – White Peony – consists of buds and the first two young leaves.

        • Gong Mei (貢眉) – is made of large leaves, Da Bai – subvarietal of Camellia sinensis

        Shou Mei (寿眉) – made of larger, more mature leaves, similar to Gong Mei.

         

        There are also less common types of white tea. For example:

          

        • Yue Guang Bai ("Moonlight White" – 月光白) of Camellia sinensis var. Taliensis – Yunnan large leaf varietal. 

        Yabao (芽苞) – Camellia sinensis var. dehungensis. This tea consists solely of very young buds that develop into offshoot branches.

         

        Most White teas brew best at water temperatures of around 185ºF (85ºC).

         

        Wo Dui (渥堆) – "Wet Piling". It is the key step in producing Shou Pu-erh (Ripe Pu-erh) tea. Wet piling consists of the following steps:

        • Tea leaves are piled in a tea factory to a height of about 70cm, varying by a tea master.
        • Piled tea is wetted with water and then covered with tarp (optional). This way, the farmers create a warm and humid environment to speed up the fermentation process.
        • Under the influence of heat and humidity, a complex of fungi and bacteria develop in the tea pile, enhancing the fermentation process.
        • After fermentation, the tea is unpiled and ventilated.

         

        Wuyi Rock Tea – is an oolong that is grown in the Wuyi mountains of northern Fujian, China, which is one of the world’s most important tea producing regions. Wuyi Rock tea is grown on rocky and mineral-rich soil, hence the name. 

        The Wuyi Mountain Area can be divided into four sub-areas:

        • Zheng Yan – a National Reserve area, where no pesticides are allowed. The area is very biodiverse and has a unique microclimate. In Zhengyan, it is foggy and rains all year long, and the soil is very rich in minerals. Zhengyan is the core Wuyi area that consists of 36 peaks and 99 cliffs.

        • Ban Yan – means "Hlaf-Rock". The term is used to identify tea that is growing around the edges of the National Park. Tea from this area may be grown with the use of pesticides.

        • Zhou Cha – means "River Tea". The term is used to identify tea grown along the Nine Bends River in the Wuyi Shan area.

        • Wai Shan – means "outside mountain". Describes tea that is grown outside of the areas mentioned above.

        Amongst the most famous Wuyi Rock teas are Da Hong Pao, Rou Gui and Shui Xian. Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea is also known as Yancha.

         

        Wu Long (乌龙) – literaly "Black Dragon", is better known as Oolong tea. It refers to a category of semi-oxidized teas (they fall between un-oxidized green teas and fully oxidized black teas) that can only be made from certain types of tea bush growing in specific geographical regions. The production methods for wu long tea are known to only a few regions of the world. Today, the main production regions are in Fujian, Guangdong and Taiwan.

        Wu long teas are being produced from larger, more mature leaves. During processing the leaves are shaken and then the edges of the leaves are left to “bruise”. This brings the brownish-red color to the edges, while the inside of the leaves stays green. The actual amount of oxidation depends on the desired finish of the tea, as well as the skill of the tea maker. This can result in wu long teas that are lightly oxidized, like pale delicate-tasting green teas, to forms which are almost fully oxidized, like dark and bold flavored black teas.

        The production of wu long tea requires some of the most artisanal and sophisticated skills of tea making. Wu long tea artisans are much like boutique winemakers. Most wu longs are sold under simple trade names (e.g., Tie Guanyin, Shui Xian, Dong Ding, Dan Cong). However, experts categorize and understand wu long by its region, age, bush variety and season of harvest, just like wine.

        Most wu long teas brew best at water temperatures of around 185-195ºF (85-90ºC). Some require even higher temperatures.

         

        Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony – this type of tea ceremony originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. Wu-Wo (无我) translates as "void of self" – a Buddhist concept of reaching Nirvana by dissolving the Self. Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony allows many participants to brew tea together and is rooted in GongFu Cha, small pot brewing.
        Wu-Wo is usually conducted in complete silence. Everyone makes tea using the tea leaves that he has brought. During the ceremony, everyone makes, serves and drinks tea. The main principals of Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony are:

        • No distinction of social rank
        • No expectation of a reward
        • Keeping an open mind
        • Positive attitude
        • Constant striving for improvement
        • Respecting the schedule and abiding the rules
        • Cooperation

         

        X:

         

        Y:

        Yabao – yabao are very young buds that would become offshoot branches on a plant. It can come from a Camellia Sinensis as well as from other plants from Camellia family, such as Camellia Assamica, Camellia Crassicolumna, and Camellia Taliensis. Generally speaking, yabao is known for its light, sweet and crisp taste.  

         

        Yabukita – a cultivar of Tencha from which Matcha is made. Matcha produced from Yabukita is lighter in color than the one that is made out of Okumidoriand and has more of "shibumi" (can be translated as tartness or bitterness). 75% of matcha produced in Japan comes from Yabukita cultivar. 

         

        Ya Ji (雅集) – gathering of literati. Refers explicitly to gatherings where literati recite or create poetry and have intellectual discussions. In ancient times, scholars would gather with like-minded peers to converse and look for new ideas and inspiration while training their minds and pursuing a path of self-discovery and accomplishment. These intimate get-togethers were known as "gathering of literati" or Ya Ji (雅集). Ya means "distinguished and refined", while Ji refers to a gathering or a get-together. More than just poetic sessions, these gatherings were rich with art forms like incense burning, painting displays, music, and the tea ceremony.

         

        Yancha (Wuyi Yancha) – "rock tea", is referring to oolong teas from the Wuyi region in the north of Fujian Province, China. 

        Wuyi Rock tea is grown on rocky and mineral-rich soil, and it is famous for its roasted flavor with mineral, floral and chocolaty notes. 

        The Wuyi Mountain Area can be divided into four sub-areas:

        • Zheng Yan – a National Reserve area, where no pesticides are allowed. The area is very biodiverse and has a unique microclimate. In Zhengyan, it is foggy and rains all year long, and the soil is very rich in minerals. Zhengyan is the core Wuyi area that consists of 36 peaks and 99 cliffs.

        • Ban Yan – means "Hlaf-Rock". The term is used to identify tea that is growing around the edges of the National Park. Tea from this area may be grown with the use of pesticides.

        • Zhou Cha – means "River Tea". The term is used to identify tea grown along the Nine Bends River in the Wuyi Shan area.

        • Wai Shan – means "outside mountain". Describes tea that is grown outside of the areas mentioned above.

        Amongst the most famous Wuyi Rock teas are Da Hong Pao, Rou Gui and Shui Xian.

         

        Yan Yun (岩韵) – "Rock Rhyme". In Chinese Yan means rock, which refers to Wuyi Shan terroir. Hence the name "Yan Cha" – Rock Tea. Yun, on the other hand, is a more abstract term. In music, the term Yun is used to define a certain rhythm that coats the listener with delight.
        The best way to describe Yan Yun would be a gracefulness of Yancha that exhibits all of the qualities, tying together taste, aroma, mouthfeel, and the feeling we get after sipping the tea.

         

        Yellow Tea (黄茶) – it is a rare variety of loose leaf tea, with the least amount of production and with very few regions producing it. Being, by far, the rarest in China’s six tea categories, yellow tea, however, is an essential part of China’s long-lived tea tradition and is frequently featured among China’s ‘Ten Famous Teas’ list.

        Yellow Tea is a step up from green tea, being made through the process of micro-oxidation. The technique involves the wok fry process – very much like in green tea production, but for a shorter duration at a reduced temperature.The tea leaf, being only partially dried, traps the moisture inside, which allows it to oxidize the tea to various degrees – “yellowing” the leaves –Men Huang (闷黄). Men Huang can also be loosely translated as "stewing yellow." It's the unique step in Yellow Tea processing that kills the grassiness of the tea and makes it sweet and aromatic. During the "Men Huang" step tea farmers must keep the tea leaves in a warm and humid environment. It is a sophisticated process where tea artisans must gauge the moisture very well to produce the best Huang Cha possible. "Men Huang" also involves intuition. There are no strict guidelines to the room's humidity levels, and it is a manual process. 


        There are five main varieties of the yellow tea:

        • Jun Shan Yin Zhen (Silver Needle Yellow Tea)
        • Huo Shan Huang Ya
        • Da Ye Qing
        • Huang Tang
        • Meng Ding Huang Ya 

          

        Yixing (宜兴) – is an ancient county (established in 221BC, during the Qin Dynasty) in Jiangsu province of China, situated by the delta of Yangtze River. This is where the famous Yixing Clay (Zi Sha) is mined, and teaware is produced.

        The main types of Zi Sha that are being mined in Yixing and used for making teaware are:

        • Zi Ni (紫泥) – purple clay, the most famous and popular out of Zi Sha varieties. This clay is quite porous and has excellent heat-retaining qualities. 

        • Zhu Sha or Zhu Ni (朱泥) – the bright red hue of cinnabar with high iron content.

        • Hong Ni (红泥) – red clay with characteristics similar to Zi Ni though less porous. 

        • Duan Ni (緞泥) – the clay is porous and has good heat-retaining properties. The color varies from golden, beige and light yellow to blue and green.

        • Lu Ni (绿泥) – a very rare Yixing clay of green color. Lu Ni clay has excellent heat-retaining properties. 

        Yixing teapots with thinner walls are best to use with green, white, and yellow teas. And teapots made of thicker and more porous clay work best for oolongblack (red), and pu-erh teas.

        Chinese clay teapots from Yixing usually are unglazed. The teapot’s clay remains porous with the intention of the tea oils to build up inside the teapot. The clay smoothes the tea taste and transforms it by adding its own unique “taste” from the accumulated tea oils and minerals of the clay itself. Considering this, many prefer not to use the same yixing teapot for brewing different teas unless the teas come from the same family/class of tea. 

        For the same reasons, yixing teaware (and teaware in general) should never be treated with detergents, but rather with water only.

        These are some of the classic yixing teapot shapes:

        Teapot Shapes

         

        Yunomi – is a form of a teacup (usually made of ceramic or clay) used in Japan in informal settings. It is taller and not as wide as chawan and usually has a trimmed-, turned- or club-foot. 

         

        Yuzamashi – is a vessel used in Japan to cool the water before pouring it over green teas such as gyokuro or sencha.

         

        Z:

        Zang Cha (藏茶) – 'Tibetan Tea' is a Hei Cha (黑茶) – post-fermented Chinese tea, produced mainly in Sichuan. Tibetan tea had many names that changed with time: Wu Cha (乌茶), Bian Cha (border tea, 边茶), Da Cha (大茶), or Ya Cha (雅茶). To learn more about this tea, read our blogpost

         

        Zhu Ni / Zhu Sha (朱泥) – is a type of clay from Yixing, the delta of the Yangtze River. The clay has high iron content and is famous for its glossy finish and bright red color. This type of clay has a high shrinkage ratio, so many pieces don't survive kiln. That's why Zhu Ni teaware is quite rare and commands a higher price. Zhuni's porosity is from low to medium. 

         

        Zi Ni (紫泥) – "purple clay" is a type of Yixing clay (Zi Sha) from the delta of Yangtze River, Yixing, Jiangsu province. Zi Ni has excellent porosity and heat-retaining properties that significantly transform the taste of tea.

        The clay has a somewhat sandy texture and is made from a mixture of kaolin, quartz, and mica, with a high iron oxide content. Making this type of clay is lengthy and has traditionally been regarded as a trade secret. Zi Ni is the most popular among the Yixing clays and is often called by the umbrella name for all of the Yixing clays – ZiSha, which also means "purple clay". 

          

        Zi Sha (紫砂) – translates as 'purple sand', is an umbrella name for all of the Yixing Clays mined in Yixing, Jiangsu province of China, situated by the delta of Yangtze River. 

        The main types of Zi Sha that are being mined in Yixing and used for making teaware are:

        • Zi Ni  (紫泥) – purple clay, the most famous and popular out of Zi Sha varieties, and often called just "Zi Sha". This clay is quite porous and has excellent heat-retaining qualities. 

        • Zhu Sha or Zhu Ni (朱泥) – the bright red hue of cinnabar with high iron content.

        • Hong Ni (红泥) – red clay with characteristics similar to Zi Ni though less porous. 

        • Duan Ni (緞泥) – the color varies from beige and light yellow to green and blue. The clay is porous, and retains heat well.

        • Lu Ni (绿泥) – a very rare Yixing clay of green color. Lu Ni clay has excellent heat-retaining properties. 

        There are many subcategories inside of the five named above. 

         

        Zuo Qing (做青) – "Bruising". It is one of the main processing steps in making Oolong tea. Bruising is a series of shaking and resting the leaves to start partial oxidation. The leaves are gently swirled in a circular motion, then left to rest. It leads to the famous "green leaf, red edge" (lu ye hong xiang) expression, which characterizes the look of the Oolong tea leaves after this stage. It is crucial for the creation of Oolong tea's unique aroma and taste.