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Tea Glossary

Our glossary is always being 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:

 

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.

 

 

 

Bai Hao Yin Zhen ('Silver Needle') – is a type of white tea that is produced in Fujian Province, China. Amongst white teas, this one is the most prized as only the top buds are used to produce it. Only the first flush is used in making Bai Hao Yin Zhen and as a result, it has a delicate fragrance with a long lingering sweetness.

 

 

 

Baozhong also known as pouchong, 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

 

 

 

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 fermented, 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).

 

 

 

Bi Luo Chan Tea – also known as ‘Snail Tea’ is one of the most famous and praised Chinese green teasIt is grown in the Dongting mountain region near Lake Tai, Jiangsu. Bi Luo Chan is made of the freshest and most tender tea leaves. It is full of vitamins, antioxidants and tastes fruity, with a floral aroma.

 

 

 

 

Bud – when used in reference to tea the word ‘bud’ usually means a young and unopened tea leaf rather than a flower bud. If the tea mention is white tea, however, this can also refer to the flower of the plant. The finest and most prized teas usually contain only the top two tender leaves as well as an unopened bud.


 

 

 

C:

Cha – 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 (ie 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 Ban – 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 Hai – ‘sea of tea’ or ‘bowl of impartiality’. 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 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. In Chinese cha hai is also called ‘goon dao bai’ or ‘bowl of impartiality’ because it lets each participant enjoy the same brew.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Cha Lou – tea funnel used for directing the flow of tea into yixing 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 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.

 

 

 

Cha shao – scoop used in gongfu to transfer tea from the tea container to the cha he.

 

 

 

Cha shi – spoon used in gongfu to transfer tea from the cha he to the gaiwan or yixing.

 

 

 

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. Also used as the drinking cup.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Cha Zui – (Tea Drunk / Tea High) 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 fermented teas such as Oolong (especially the dark ones) and red (black) teas are not ideal for reaching the state of being tea drunk.

 

 

 

D:

Da Hong Pao – an oolong tea that grows in the Wuyi Mountains of northern Fujian, China, which is one of the world’s most important tea regions. Da Hong Pao is grown on a highly praised rocky, and mineral-rich soil.

 

 

 

Dan Cong, also known as Fenghuang Dan Cong in Chinese 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 Honey-Sweet 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).

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

G:

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. Gaiwan 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.

 

 

 

Gao Shan Cha referring to High-Mountain oolong tea that is growing in central Taiwan

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Green Tea – are the least oxidized of all the teas and are categorized by the firing method and craftsmanship technique; steamed, pan-fried, 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.

 

 

 

Gong Fu refer to the Chinese tea ceremony. While the process can look complex, it is not truly a formalized ceremony. Gong fu translates as ‘right effort’ and cha means ‘tea’. Thus, gong fu cha refers to the effort put forth to get the best flavor from a tea.

In many ways, the resulting cup is like an espresso. By contrast, western brewing methods create something like a big cup of coffee, or as they call it in Europe – ‘americano’.

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 Yixing – 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’ or ‘bowl of impartiality’. 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. In Chinese cha hai is also called ‘goon dao bai’ or ‘bowl of impartiality’ because it lets each participant enjoy the same brew.

Cha Ban – 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 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.    

 

 

 

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.    

 

 

 

Gu Shu – means "ancient tree", referring to pu-erh tea that is made of large leaves from 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 – literally "dark" or "black" tea, is referring to shou (ripe) pu-erh. 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 (ie 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.

 

 

 

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 – literally "red tea", is referring to fully fermented tea, known in the West as "black tea". Not to be confused with Hei Cha ("black 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 fermented, 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).

 

 

 

I:

Ichi-go ichi-e – "one time, one meeting".  It is s a Japanese idiom that describes a 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 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.

 

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.

 

 

 

Jin Xuan – often referred to as “Milk Oolong” is the high-mountain oolong teaprimarily 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:

Kabuse Cha – 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.

 

 

 

Keemun – is a famous Chinese black tea 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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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 and is used mainly for steeping gyokuro tea or very high-grade sencha. Compared to other types of kyusu it has a wider spout. 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. 

 • 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 houjicha 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. 

 

 

 

Lapsang Souchong – 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 and the leaves are being smoke-dried over pinewood fire, taking on a uniquely smoky flavor.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

M:

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.

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.

 

 

 

Milk Oolong (‘Jin Xuan’) – Jin Xuan, often referred to as “Milk Oolong” is the high-mountain oolong tea, 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.

 

 

 

N:

 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 the 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:

Oolong Tea – oolong (wu long) 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 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 fermented, like pale delicate-tasting green teas, to forms which are almost fully fermented, 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. Most oolong teas are sold under simple trade names (e.g., Tie Guanyin, Shui Xian, Dong Ding, Dancong). However, experts categorize and understand oolong by its region, age, bush variety and season of harvest, just like wine.

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

 

 

 

P:

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 – There are two distinct types of Pu-erh: Sheng Pu-erh (the raw or green type) and Shu Pu-erh (the ripened or black type). Both Shu and Sheng Pu-erh teas are made from a sun-dried tea called Saiqing Mao Cha. After fermentation and roasting, pu-erh tea is aged, often for many years, resulting in its dark color and bold, 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.

Being fully oxidized, pu-erh tea has significant health benefits, especially for weight loss. It is highly regarded thought South East Asia, where it is an essential part of the food culture, as a slimming and naturally safe dieter's tea.

Most pu-erh teas brew best at water temperatures of around 200-210ºF (95-99ºC).

  

 

 

Q:

Qing Xiang – "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 a 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 Shu Pu-erh)

Raw (Sheng) Pu-erh is a pu-erh that is made from non-fermented green tea leaves that were picked, quickly roasted, sun-dried and then steamed to be compressed into round disks called cakes. After which the cakes are aged until the tea’s taste is properly transformed. Because raw pu-erh is not fermented and doesn’t go through the piling process, it retains a fresh scent as well as a little bit of astringency, with a sweet aftertaste.

Ripe (Shu) Pu-erh is pu-erh that is made from black tea – the one that is fermented. At first, shu pu-erh goes through the exact same steps as the sheng pu-erh. However, at the stage of producing the cakes it undergoes the following procedure, called ‘wet piling’

:

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.     

 

 

 

S:

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Silver Needle Tea (‘Bai Hao Yin Zhen) – is a type of white tea that is produced in Fujian Province, China. Amongst white teas, this one is the most prized as only the top buds are used to produce it. Only the first flush is used in making Bai Hao Yin Zhen and as a result, it has a delicate fragrance with a long lingering sweetness.

 

 

 

Spring Snail Green Tea ('Bi Luo Chan')  – is one of the most famous and praised Chinese green teas. It is grown in the Dongting mountain region near Lake Tai, Jiangsu. Bi Luo Chan is made of the freshest and most tender tea leaves. It is full of vitamins, antioxidants and tastes fruity, with a floral aroma.

 

 

 

T:

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 (ie 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 – (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 fermented teas such as Oolong (especially the dark ones) and red (black) teas are not ideal for reaching the state of being tea drunk.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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. 

 

 

 

Tie Guan Yin (‘Iron Goddess’) – It 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 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 (ie 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. 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

White tea – being a rare tea, white tea is the least processed among the five different teas and is made of the most tender and fresh buds and leaves. It is harvested only during the spring season. 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.

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

 

 

 

Wuyi Rock Tea – is an oolong or black tea 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. This tea, made from the leaves of older bushes, is limited in quantity and therefore is significantly more expensive. Amongst the most famous Wuyi Rock teas are Da Hong Pao and Lapsang Souchong. Wuyi Rock Oolong Tea is also known as Yancha.

 

 

 

Wu Long – 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 fermented, like pale delicate-tasting green teas, to forms which are almost fully fermented, 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.

 

 

 

X:

 

 

 

Y:

Yan Cha (Wuyi Yancha) – "rock tea", is referring to oolong teas from the Wuyi region in the north of Fujian Province, China. It is famous for its roasted flavor with mineral, floral and chocolaty notes.

 

 

 

Yellow Tea – 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-fermenting. 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 and ferment 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 

 

 

 

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

The other types of clay that are being produced in Yixing and are used for teaware are ‘zhu sha’ (bright red hue of cinnabar with a high iron content) and ‘duan ni’ (made using various stones and minerals in addition to zi ni or zhu ni clay. The color varies from beige, blue, green and black).

Today ‘yixing’ became the household name for Chinese teapots and unless one is a true expert, it is hard to establish the authenticity and the origins of teaware sold online.

Yixing teapots with a finer, thinner clay are better than their thicker counterparts and are best to use with green, white and oolong teas. Teapots that use a thicker and more porous clay work best for black (red) and pu-erh teas.

Chinese clay teapots do not use glazing. The teapot’s clay remains porous with the intention of the tea oils to build up inside the teapot. Over time it smoothes the taste of tea and improves it by adding its own unique “taste” from the accumulated oils. Taking this into consideration, we don’t recommend using the same yixing teapot for brewing different teas unless the teas come from the same family/class of tea, such as different types of green or oolongs. However, even this is not ideal, as some teas from the same family have a strong flavor and in time, their taste can transfer to a more delicately flavored tea.

For these reasons, yixing teaware (and teaware in general) should never be washed using detergents, but rather with water only.

 

 

 

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:

Zi sha – is clay used for making teaware that usually comes from Yixing. Zi sha has excellent porosity and heat handling properties that significantly improves the taste of tea when compared to tea made in glass, porcelain or glazed teapots.

The clay has a has a somewhat sandy texture and is made from a mixture of kaolin, quartz and mica, with a high content of iron oxide. The process of making this type of clay is lengthy and has traditionally been regarded as a trade secret.

The other types of clay that are being produced in Yixing and are used for teaware are ‘zhu sha’ (bright red hue of cinnabar with a high iron content) and ‘duan ni’ (made using various stones and minerals in addition to zi ni or zhu ni clay). The color varies from beige, blue, green and black).