Have you ever watched someone take a sip of tea and suddenly utter a confounding phrase such as, “that’s a little too astringent for my liking, I prefer a smooth full-bodied finish” and wondered what that gibberish really meant? That someone can be you! Next time you sit down with good friends and great tea, you can impress and confuse people with your skillful tasting terminology. Use the glossary below to reference next time you want to characterize the taste, smell, and strength of your cup of tea.
Tea Tasting Glossary:
Aroma: Also called the nose or fragrance, this is the odor of the tea.
Astringency: A mouth-drying effect on the tongue. Not bitter, but a refreshing quality. Astringency is caused by a reaction between polyphenols (tannins) and the protein in saliva.
Body: A tea’s weight and substance in the mouth, also described as light, medium, or full.
Bouquet: A complex aroma.
Bright: A lively, clean, and refreshing taste on the palate.
Character: A tea’s attributes depending on its origin (country, region or type).
Clean: The purity of the flavour and an absence of off-tastes.
Finish: The lasting taste on your tongue after swallowing the tea.
Flowery: A floral aroma or flavour associated with teas.
Full: This indicates a well-made tea, with colour, strength, substance, and roundness.
Malty: A sweet malty flavour that is characteristic of Assam black teas.
Muscatel: A flavour reminiscent of grapes, most often used to describe high-end Darjeelings.
Smooth: Round-bodied, fine-drinking teas.
Soft: Smooth, lush, and lighter in taste.
Vegetal: A characteristic of green teas that might include grassy, herby or marine flavours.
How Does That Tea Taste?
Next time this question comes up, you’ll be eager to answer. Enter the world of tea-tasting terminology when you begin sprinkling the word “bouquet” into your vocabulary. As a plus, you can repurpose this glossary when describing your next glass of wine! We have to say, tea tasting often changes for the better when you can classify the sensations. Sharpen your taste buds and your vocabulary.